Auroville: Residents Fight to Save World’s Oldest International Conscious City From Destruction, Call for Global Solidarity and Action
5th September 2022
- Auroville, the celebrated 54-year-old international township located in South India, founded by representatives from 124 countries and recognised by UNESCO, faces violent intervention led by civil servant Dr Jayanti Ravi, appointed in July 2021 as Auroville Foundation Office Secretary,
- Future of this community famous for advancements in sustainability, social development, education, and more threatened by the Secretary’s destructive intervention in once-peaceful town and bioregion
AUROVILLE, INDIA, 5th September 2022 — Auroville, the UNESCO-recognised, world-renowned international community located in South India, famous for advancements in sustainability and other fields, is today calling for international solidarity and action as it faces a never-before-seen threat to its very existence. Home to around 3,000 residents from approximately 60 countries, Auroville has long been a pioneer for exploring alternative living and realising ‘human unity’ since its founding in 1968, discovering practical and scalable solutions to pressing world challenges such as governance, climate change, and social inequality. The future of the world’s oldest international conscious city is now in an existential crisis following the appointment of a new official, Dr Jayanti Ravi, to the position of Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, whose authoritarian takeover of Auroville’s administrative network, decision-making processes, and finances undermines the community’s 54 years of peaceful and progressive self-governance and development.
Starting with the felling of trees and built-up structures in December 2021, Auroville has been faced with an escalating, divisive conflict as Dr Ravi forces a rushed urban development while brushing aside the community’s established decision-making processes and critical concerns, such as the protection of Auroville’s famous forests, water catchments, and community centres. Despite orders from the National Green Tribunal to halt all work until an Environmental Impact Assessment is done, and orders from the Madras High Court ruling that the Secretary cannot make decisions and take actions without respecting the community’s legitimate decision-making processes and wishes – all during a time when India loses 14% of its forests every year, according to Global Forests Watch – Dr Ravi’s destructive campaign continues with no end in sight.
Furthermore, Dr Ravi’s actions infringe on the rights, personal safety, and well-being of the Auroville residents as she threatens and hinders the immigration process for foreign residents — including those who have lawfully lived in India for decades— and uses police intimidation and harassment to proceed with the deforestation. Dr Ravi’s measures to enact a total takeover of all aspects of Auroville governance, including seizing the community’s lands and assets, which have been funded by individuals and international donations for over 50 years, as well as the community’s fund for which residents raise money through commercial activities and mandatory monthly contributions, also threaten the physical and financial security of the city. To learn more about these actions and other developments, click here.
Contrary to Dr Ravi’s claims that Auroville has not realised any significant achievements, the community’s 54-year history is full of groundbreaking experiments and milestones that benefit both local residents and countless individuals, organisations, and communities worldwide. These achievements include:
- Ecology: The extensive hands-on ecological restoration of Auroville’s 2,200-acre land showcases best practices for reforestation that have since been acclaimed worldwide
- Equality: Auroville exists as an equity-driven society by removing all concepts of ego-centric competition and engaging with thousands of locals to encourage equitable social development in the surrounding region
- Sustainability: A ‘living laboratory’ for research into meaningful ways of life, such as local farming and permaculture practices, zero waste and renewable energies, Auroville openly spreads its knowledge for the benefit of humanity
- Education: Auroville offers cutting-edge educational programmes and serves as a hub for personal and academic research, especially in fields such as social equity, sustainable development, spirituality, governance, and circular economy
- Economy: With a focus on circular and local systems, Auroville is a pioneer in building a new economic model for an urban community that is respectful of nature’s limited resources and residents’ quest for conscious living
For a full list of Auroville’s main achievements, click here.
The Auroville community now seeks international support, solidarity, and action to raise awareness of Dr Ravi’s actions and stop the destructive impact of abuse of power that threatens this important international project.
The community also wishes to share a message of solidarity with those who are experiencing violent political intervention in the name of development in other parts of the world. In the spirit of Auroville’s mission to realise human unity, the community encourages peaceful, environmentally responsible, and socially sustainable resolution to these challenges, and shares the following quote attributable to His Holiness Dalai Lama, issued during the inauguration of the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture in Auroville:
“We are deeply impressed by the spiritual aim behind the building of an international city called Auroville. The importance of the effort to achieve human unity and international co-operation by the creation of such a city cannot be over-emphasised; nor can we neglect the benefit to be acquired from it.”
Auroville is the world’s oldest international intentional community with the purpose of realising human unity by exploring different ways of living and structuring development. Founded in 1968 by Mira Alfassa, the French spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, one of India’s most prominent philosophers, Auroville is the only international project in the world protected by its hosting nation through an Act of Parliament. It is now home to more than 3,000 residents from 60 countries. The vision of Auroville is defined in its Charter which was endorsed by 124 countries at the time of the city’s inauguration. Since its founding, Auroville has served humanity as a pioneer in sustainable living, urban planning, development and education, and governance. To learn more about Auroville, visit https://auroville.media/what-is-auroville/.
The Secretary of the Auroville Foundation is an administrative position under the Foundation’s Governing Board. According to the 1988 Auroville Foundation Act, Auroville is overseen equally by three bodies: the Residents’ Assembly and its Working Committee (consisting of representatives of the Auroville community), the Governing Board (consisting of government-appointed persons), and an International Advisory Council of global scholars and those who are ‘devoted to the ideals of human unity, peace and progress’. The role of the Auroville Foundation Secretary is designed to be largely administrative (and is laid out in section 6 of the Auroville Foundation Rules 1997) as decisions in the community are made and carried out via the Residents’ Assembly. The current Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, civil servant Dr Jayanti Ravi, was appointed to the position in July 2021.