SAIIER 2014:Auroville Archives
Auroville Archives was set up in 1991 to keep a comprehensive record of all the ongoing activities in this International Township founded on 28 February 1968 as a ‘Living Laboratory’ based on the four-point Charter laid down by the Mother, where volunteers were invited from all over the world to build a city for 50,000.
Today after more than 45 years of its existence Auroville has a population of only 1,800 adults from 49 countries (including 998 from India alone) who have been busy over the years converting what was once a barren landscape in Tamil Nadu and setting up lush green forests while meeting all the natural and man-made challenges. All this has been done through experimental approaches in soil reclamation, education, community life, health, technology, agriculture and setting up industries to raise the necessary funds for all the ongoing activities. All this has been done while maintaining a close collaboration with the local village population in and around the Auroville area.
Auroville Archives has been keeping a complete record of all the activities over the years - located in a temporary and improvised space below the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Bharat Nivas. The biggest challenge is of protecting the available material against the hot and humid climate with frequent power break-downs and insects of all kinds.
The priority of the Archives Team has been to collect and preserve the record of all the ongoing activities with its numerous problems of shortage of funds and other challenges with hardly any Rules and Regulations laid down in the existing improvised space. Besides this, the challenge exists of converting all the available material - paper, audio, photographs, videos, and slides into digital format for long term safe preservation for future research.
A project for a permanent and specialized building for the Auroville Archives was submitted in 2006 and is still awaiting sanction to be expedited. The present Archives was visited in 2003 by a team of officers from the National Archive in Delhi; they promised a grant for our ongoing activities which has been held up, due to office procedures.
Besides the expeditious sanction and construction of the proposed building for the Archives, we are constantly faced with financial difficulties due to frequent power breakdown; it is necessary almost daily to run a generator for lighting, air-conditioning and running of data machines.
Despite our appeals for a regular annual grant for the Archives by the Auroville Foundation and processing of the promised grant by the National Archives in Delhi, we had made two proposals for consideration by the Governing Board and their next planned meeting on 13 March 2014.
The first proposal was for the urgent sanction and execution on the ground of the proposed building for the Archives. The estimated cost of the building and its air-conditioning was Rupees 1.9 Crores.
The second proposal was for procurement of additional equipment (computers, scanners, UPS - uninterrupted power supply) by installation of solar panels on top of the new building.
Cold storage room
Due to erratic power cuts in Tamil Nadu, it is not possible to maintain the correct level of humidity and temperature control in the available improvised space. Under these circumstances, a small ‘cold storage’ room was improvised with technical help from an Aurovilian working in the Matrimandir air-conditioner plant. This was based on a special grant allotted through a request by the Foundation for World Education. Available sensitive materials (photos, slides, negatives, DVDs and other electronic materials) are now stored in the cold storage room where the temperature and humidity does not decrease drastically, even when there is no power.
An immediate sanction for the proposed permanent building for the Archives is a priority. Besides the above, there are certain other urgent modifications proposed in the existing habitat (such as air-conditioning of the front room). Financial sanction is urgently needed.