Straightspeak – Planning on deceit

eROUGHSPEAK- Planning on Deceit
eROUGHSPEAK- Planning on Deceit

 An Auroville fairy tale…..

AVES recently wanted to put a cable through a spot close to my house. They had to use a path near my house because of the intransigence of nearby residents. I agreed, subject to a “credible guarantee” that a road would not follow. Silly of me.

In my absence, work on the cable started- without the guarantee, of course. ( which finally manifested as a soppy and meaningless statement in the News and Notes). I stopped the work until the AVES executive, and one from TDC came to see me to assure me that they didn’t know how this happened, it would never happen again, blah, blah …. this only happened about four times! Love these guys, they really know how to make you feel good after basically “doing” you over!

I was therefore slightly surprised to see the following statement in the N & N after all the work had been completed:

The TDC gave a short update about the laying of the high tension (HT) cable from Kailash to Bharat Nivas (receiving station). Laying of the HT cable required talks with many individuals; generally the cable follows “right of way”; some adjustments had to be made. In Aurodam one Aurovilian was blocking the work. Mr. Bala Baskar said this behaviour is unacceptable and if his office is asked, he’ll talk to the individual. The Working Committee member made note of the offer.”

On Aug 26, I wrote to the FAMC asking whom they were referring to. Of course I never got a reply from FAMC- I’m still waiting.

One of the TDC members on the FAMC personally wrote back saying it wasn’t him, and said the meeting took place the same day I’d reached an agreement with them. The other member hasn’t replied.

Ok, why?

Lets think of why TDC lies, openly, to the community. Its in their genes. They do it for money. One of the executives of of TDC was booted out of the Auroville Service he was in, after an inspection found missing GPS’s, hard drives and even a jeep. Three other vehicles were found being used by people who were not supposed to have them, and a mere 10 lakhs had been diverted to a unit in which he had an interest. Worse still, 20 years of data, meticulously collected by dozens of people, had gone missing. FAMC, of which he’s also a member, refuses to act. On asking one of the members of the FAMC why they hadn’t acted, I was told that “he’s given most of it back”.

If all it needs to escape any consequences, is to give everything back, is it surprising that theft has become an honorable profession in Auroville?

Lets stop this nonsense and clean up all these criminals from our committees.

Auroville will become what is must be:

Only if and when the people living there will stop lying.

The Mother, 18.3.1973




Rewind about eight years. Three Auroville youth got expelled from India. A while later, the courts found them not guilty of the thing they were accused of, and in 2009 they were allowed to return.

In the meantime, one of them had a very close friend, also an AV youth. He asked this boy to house sit, until he could get back. He also gave him a workshop, with a set of very expensive tools, to look after. The guesthouse went to his mother, who handed its care to another good friend..

These arrangements were known to  the Auroville  groups involved, and when it became clear that this man would return, the housesitter was asked to move. He undertook to do so by February 2010, to the Auroville Council.

To cut a very long story short, he still hasn’t. In spite of resolutions by the Council, the Working Committee,  by Housing, and by the FAMC. In spite of having been offered at least five other alternatives, and large amounts of money  to relocate. In the intervening period he’s employed threats of violence, and actually brought in people from the nearby village to rough up the current manager of the guesthouse.

The workshop is shut, and what happened to the tools loaned to him is anybody’s guess.

A Little bird tells me that the reason for all this drama is that the ‘youth’ nurses a grudge for not having been put in charge of the guesthouse as well…another asset that could have plundered.

In the last 16 months, various groups have offered upto five different options, large sums of money,  and building permissions, all to be rejected.  The FAMC has ordered twice that the house be demolished, since it was badly damaged in the Dec 2011 cyclone. When last week the FAMC told him that he had to go, he and other lumpen elements ( aka the Big Bird) in the community broke into and occupied a then empty newcomers house in the community. This house had been vacant for a week, and was undergoing repairs! His moving to this house  had already been ruled out,   since with the history of unpleasantness he created, nobody wanted him as a neighbour.

Anywhere else in the world the police would have been called in, but no, we’re not supposed to do that here. Our anti-socials have license to express themselves, and get a bonus to boot. And now, I guess we will soon see a Residents Assembly where all the troublemakers will gather, to try and regularise this latest squatting. Aurovilians, we are at a time when you do not dare leave your house for a few days with your best friend: not only will you not get it back, but the community will paint you the evil one for wanting it back!

The only justification I’ve heard from anybody on any of these so-called groups that administer AV is, he’s an Auroville kid, we have to take care of him. I wish I was an Auroville kid. I could lie, cheat and threaten my way into getting anything I wanted!

More to the point, if our groups cannot enforce a simple decision such as asking a house sitter to leave, what is the chance that they will take the more important  decisions that need to be taken every day, for the well being of Auroville?

Yes, I’m talking about Reve Guest House.

Our groups need to be empowered to enforce their decisions- or there will be no alternative to calling the police on a regular basis.

eROUGHSPEAK : The fix is in…

(Disclosure: I volunteered for the Selection Committee, and was not selected. I was nominated for L’Avenir and refused this)

I was naive enough to join the Selection Process Review Group (SPRG) a few months back. This will be a new start, they said. We will run this group democratically, they said. Everything we do will be completely transparent and open, they said, and we will report everything we decide to the community.

Grandstanding began almost from the first meeting. Over the next couple of months, just about everybody who had any experience with the Auroville process (meaning, they had actually worked on one of these groups), dropped out, leaving the process in charge of those with the loudest voices. I was out of station for a while, and when I attempted to rejoin the group, I was asked to wait “until the selection process for L’Avenir was over”. This got me thinking. Was my presence inconvenient, and were the selections to L’Avenir going to be rigged, as usual?

Several factors confirm my suspicion.

Firstly, the process suggested was very convoluted, and was no different from that done earlier. Various groups which were supposed to be concerned with planning had their quotas on the new Selection Committee. It may be argued that a member of the current L’Avenir was needed since that person knew what the job entailed, also and members of the Farm and Forest Groups since they represent a vital land use component, But why members of the ABC, ABS, AVC or the last L’Avenir. Are they more qualified than members of the community at large, or are their any special interests at stake? Why members of the L’Avenir Advisory Board? They are supposed to advise: or are we surrendering our ‘democratic’ rights to Delhi, yet again? Why not just- 15 people from the RA, picked in some transparent fashion? Even picking volunteers at random, picking names out of a hat, would be less biased than this procedure.

Secondly, the SPRG report itself was available only on request. Why wasn’t this document discussed and debated on AVNet? Incidentally, The SPRG minutes have stopped appearing in the N & N, leaving us wondering why the group that advocated honesty openness and transparency has fallen into the same hole.

Thirdly, the discussions that happened on the SPRG report were conveyed to to community as a series of cartoons: cute, but leaving nothing to really react to.

Finally, the RAS proposed that the Selection Committee proceedings be shown on closed circuit TV to anybody who was interested. This would have ensured that behind the scenes slander without any accountability, would not take place. A little bird has told me that 3 of the new SC members have already objected vehemently to this, and the rest maintain an eerie silence.

So I guess the fix is really in.


posted with permission from the Author.