In the inauguration ceremony attended by delegates of 124 nations on 28th February 1968, Alfassa gave Auroville its 4-point Charter setting forth her vision of Integral living:
After the death of Alfassa in 1973, problems arose over the management of Auroville between Aurovilians and some of the initial pioneers based at Puducherry. A period of turmoil followed.
Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air- conditioned chamber of polished white marble - "A place to find one's consciousness". At its centre, a 70cm crystal ball in a gold mount and glow with a single ray of sunlight that is directed on the globe from the top of structure. According to Alfassa, this represents "a symbol of future realisation."
When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by beam from a solar powered light.
Matrimandir has its solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens.
Radiating from this centre are four "zones" of the City Area: the "Residential Zone", "Industrial Zone", "Cultural (& Educational) Zone" and "International Zone". Around the City or the urban area, lies a Green Belt which is an environment research and resource area and includes farms and forestries, a botanical garden, seed bank, medicinal and herbal plants, water catchment bunds, and some communities.
Politics and religion are not supposed to be in Auroville. Formally, it is the township, not the inhabitants, that owns the houses.
In 2004, the then president of India Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam visited Auroville and expressed his upmost appreciation and moral support to Auroville. In January 2008, the current president of India, Mrs. Pratibha D. Patil visited Auroville and expressed her kindest appreciation of the vision and work of Auroville. "It is India's destiny to support this work for the future of mankind" were her closing words in a message on the occasion of Auroville's 40th anniversary.
Central documents articulating the vision of Auroville are the following:
Satprem Maïni a French Aurovilian architect, the director of the Auroville Earth Institute, is representative for India and South Asia to the “ UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development”.
Some public drinking fountains feature "dynamised" water, which has been "made healthier" by having the water listen to Bach and Mozart.
Under the umbrella of Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER), Auroville runs several educational institutions in and around Auroville.
Auroville currently is not in position to provide free accommodation to all newcomers who come to Auroville. Consequently, the newcomers are expected to contribute financially towards building their house in Auroville.The house can be simple one room apartment or, if need be, it can be of a larger size. Thus, the housing cost form the largest item of expense for the newcomers, though there are ongoing efforts to provide free accommodation to the long term Aurovilians who have proved their commitment to the progress of Auroville. Residents of Auroville are expected to contribute a monthly contribution to and are asked to help the community whenever possible, by work, money or kind. "Guest contribution", or a daily fee payable by the guests of Auroville, constitutes a part of Auroville's budget. There is a system of “maintenance”, whereby those Aurovilians who need can receive from the community a monthly maintenance which could cover simple bacis needs of life. Auroville's economy as its overall life are of evolving nature and there are ongoing experiments to reach closer to the vision.
As states Auroville Today, "there are two more obstacles the lack of work opportunities and the low levels of ‘maintenance'. Auroville has only a small economic base and newcomers often cannot find suitable work in the commercial units or in the services. If they can, the levels of ‘maintenance' paid – Rs 5,000 for those who work full-time for Auroville's services, a bit more for those who work for commercial units – are just sufficient to cover basic living costs, but not to pay for a house, or for paying-off a loan.
Auroville finances itself mainly by receiving contributions from its commercial units which contribute 33% of their profits to Auroville's Central Fund and by donations. There are guest houses, building construction units, information technology, small and medium scale businesses, producing and re-selling items such as handmade paper for stationery items, as well as producing its well-known incense sticks, which can be bought in Auroville's own shop in Pondicherry, or are sold around India and abroad. Each of these units contributes a considerable part of their profits to the township. Over 5000 people, mostly from the nearby localities, are employed in various sections and units of Auroville.
Other activities include afforestation, organic agriculture, basic educational research, health care, village development, appropriate technology, town planning, water table management, cultural activities and community services.
Auroville has a small but dedicated 'OutreachMedia' team who regulate visits of journalists and film/video makers. Their particular aim is to ensure that all journalists and filmmakers get the official, up-to-date information or relevant/representative footage from the correct sources so that generally their visit is a fruitful and constructive one.
Articles and photos about Auroville in the web site of Italian writer Manuel Olivares: http://www.manuelolivares.it
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