However, the Mother was very conscious that the world was not ready for this, that there are legal realities which could not be ignored, so for practical purposes, such as buying land, she arranged for the Sri Aurobindo Society to legally own Auroville, although this ownership was meant to be only in name. But the will to own and control Auroville proved too strong, and the Government of India had to step in, so to say, to protect the Mother’s dream.
When the ownership of Auroville shifted, the feeling was that the government would be like a benevolent Big Brother which would keep Mother’s dream alive and allow the Aurovilians to develop in the way that they needed to achieve this, while, at the same time, ensuring that no others would claim ownership. For many years, this seemed to be the case.
But we now see a government that has a strong sense of ownership of the cultural identity of India, and, seemingly, also wishes to shape Auroville according to this identity.
Politically, the Auroville Foundation Act of 1988, framed at the conclusion of the conflict of the 70s, seemed to provide a governing structure that empowered the residents of Auroville, but with the current administration’s interpretation, the Residents’ Assembly has been sidelined in favour of government-appointed persons. This clash of approaches to ownership seems to be at the core of what’s happening now. It is a return to a struggle for ownership over a community which has been envisioned to have no ownership.
And ownership of Auroville has suddenly become very attractive. Not only from the viewpoint of consumption with its world cuisine or products and services of the New Age world market, but also Auroville is beginning to look like an experiment that is offering solutions to larger world problems. From this point of view it is a bud ready to bloom, both materially and culturally, offering an attractive prospect for ownership leading to material and ideological exploitation.