News & Notes 669:Report of the Working Committee for September 2016

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669 icon.jpg   News & Notes 669
15 October 2016

Report of the Working Committee for September 2016

Ongoing and new topics:

1) Meeting of the Governing Board and International Advisory Council. The last meeting of the present members of the Governing Board and International Advisory Council took place on the 8th of September. The minutes of the meeting of the Board have been published on Auronet. Link […]
2) Entry Service. In August, together with the Auroville Council, a decision was made to start a process to select new members for the Entry Service. A half-day "team-building" workshop was held on the 3rd of September. As a result of this workshop, a new team emerged. The names of the new team members were published and a significant amount of feedback has been received. After the feedback is processed, the Working Committee and Auroville Council will report back to the community. Meanwhile, the previous Entry Service team met with the Working Committee to express the hurt they felt caused by the process used during the transition. The old team didn’t feel included nor acknowledged for the work they had done. The Working Committee and the Auroville Council jointly decided to request Koodam to facilitate a session with the intention to hear and acknowledge this impact, so that we may further learn how to improve our processes. This session is scheduled to be held on the 14th of October.
3) Regarding the strike on Friday, the 16th of September. We have received several feedbacks from the community regarding the Working Committee’s communication during the strike on Friday September 16. Here, we wish to share with you the reasoning behind our actions, so that you may have a deeper understanding about how we saw the issue. Our first advice to the community (that activities may remain open) was based on firstly that we believe that Auroville should not participate in political issues and secondly that the Supreme Court of India demanded Tamil Nadu and Karnataka not to engage in protests. The article can be found here: […]
However, some unruly individuals from the neighboring villages used the on-going protests between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as an opportunity to disturb Auroville and went around threatening industries, the Solar Kitchen, the Town Hall and even workers in residential communities. The turning point was also that some residents were physically assaulted. At this point, the AVSST strongly recommended us to shut down. This advice was also expressed by community members. This led to our second advice and was based on the fact that we were not able to provide our community with simultaneous, sufficient and timely back-up to all those who were affected or harassed by the protestors. Some wrote to us that it is a fantasy to believe we can go on functioning every time a strike is declared, as the scenario of unruly elements touring Auroville and threatening violence is too well-known, and our advice to leave the decision to stay open or not to the individuals concerned left them indeed to fend for themselves when the strike enforcers paid them a visit. Some others communicated to us condemning us for changing our initial stand and not having the courage to stand by our former decision. Evidently these two messages from us caused confusion and pain within the community. We apologize for the tensions caused and for the violent behaviour some of you have had to endure. We are taking this matter forward with relevant News authorities while simultaneously looking into improving our own internal reinforcements in order to provide the community with a safer and more secure environment. Please bear with us.
4) Meeting on village relationships and land protection. The Working Committee, the Land Board and the interim TDC have initiated regular meetings with the support of Koodam with the aim to improve our internal organization, to harmonize and unify the views of the various Auroville working groups and to plan a common approach. This process is on-going.
5) Meeting with the German Consulate. Several Aurovilians paid a visit to the German Consulate in Chennai to strengthen Auroville's link with foreign missions. The Working Committee endorsed this initiative and will participate in and organize events around sustainability and other topics to foster this link along with the Aurovilians who initiated this step.
6) Right to Information Appeal requests. In the month of September the Auroville Foundation received 23 appeal requests from the same person who sent in August 23 initial requests for information, based on the Right to Information. The work is on-going. We will keep you posted.
7) New Town Development Authority (NTDA). The Working Committee, Auroville Council and the NTDA Task Force will have a joint meeting with the Secretary in the coming days. This will be followed by a general information meeting and, possibly, a Residents’ Assembly Decision-making event on the endorsement of the NTDA request.
8) Appeal Process. A draft appeal process, made in collaboration with the Auroville Council was published by the Council in September. The feedback is currently being processed.

9) IT returns. It has come to the Working Committee’s attention that ALL foreigners who reside in Auroville (Aurovilians and Newcomers) for a period longer than 180 days, and who hold foreign bank accounts, must file an Income Tax return, regardless of the balance in the bank account. We have circulated a list of lawyers who can help with this in the News and Notes (no. 668) dt. 8th October 2016. The Working Committee and FAMC plan to potentially arrange a periodic office space in Auroville where some lawyers can be met regarding this topic. More on this topic will follow in subsequent reports.

Completed topics:
Topics that we were involved in and have either been resolved or flagged with the relevant working group. We will not be reporting any more about these topics, but they do remain on our radar:

10) Loud parties. There have been some complaints about loud music and heavy traffic during a party on the night of 13th of August. The issue has been discussed with the AVC and Auroville Safety and Security. The organizer of this party has been met with, the consequence of the disturbance has been acknowledged. The matter has been settled.

Pending Topics: (topics that are still on our table for which we have no noteworthy update to provide)

a) Water Harvest/Water Service
b) Auroville Child Development
c) Matrimandir Executives
d) Matrimandir Access for Special Guests
e) Tackling Beach Erosion
f) TDC term of office
g) 50th Anniversary Celebration
h) Pending Visa matters
i) Strengthening of Integrated Animal Care (jointly with the AVC)
j) Emotional and Mental Health Care in Auroville (jointly with the AVC)

The Working Committee
(Angela, Carel, Elisa, Hemant, Inge, Mandakini, Ranjith)