On the 26th August, Mr. Raghu Ananthanarayan received a formal letter from the Secretary of the AVFO, stating that the GB is requesting a process for deeper dialogue in Auroville, and requesting him to facilitate this process,“enabling the stakeholders of Auroville to arrive at a consensus and commit to a way forward […]” Dena Merriam, IAC member, has since posted on Auronet (Intranet forum that has been taken over by the Foundation office) announcing this intention to the community. Mr. Ananthanarayan reached out to Deven, an Aurovilian, who then invited others to participate in one-hour long exploratory sessions. Several Aurovilians have been in conversation with Mr. Ananthanarayanan.
The announcement raised questions about whether a process of dialogue or reconciliation should start whilst the takeover of Auroville’s internal organisation systems by the AVFO is still in process, and the pressure regarding visas continues. Concerns were also raised about the GB initiating this dialogue, without having met or consulted with the RA. As of today, no formal process has been defined. The Working Groups of the RA have sent emails to Dena & Raghu highlighting their concerns. Here is below their communication to the community:
Regarding dialogue with Mr. Raghu Ananthanarayanan
The Working Groups selected by the Residents’ Assembly have over the past months been doing their utmost to protect the rights and the role of the Residents’ Assembly as a body of the Auroville Foundation. The Residents’ Assembly as our legal container within the Auroville Foundation, graciously granted to us by Mother India, will give us, the people of all nations assembled for the Dream, the opportunity to live and realise the Charter of Auroville and to fulfill the purpose for which Auroville was created, that of Human Unity.
Over the past almost one year there have been many attempts by RA selected working groups and other members of the RA at mediation, collaboration and real dialogue, in order to synthesise diverse points of view and proposals. Although these attempts have not been successful, we feel that the possibility of facilitated dialogue or mediated discussions towards real solutions that reflect the spirit of Auroville should remain open, and would honour Auroville’s aim to become a living embodiment of an actual human unity.
However, this cannot be done in the current atmosphere of oppression and at the cost of the autonomy, diversity or the safety of Auroville residents – it can only happen if the concerned parties stand on an equal, and respectful footing. We feel that dialogue or mediated discussions with an external and neutral party would be possible provided certain conditions were first met. These could include a commitment in writing that all methods of coercion, harassment and intimidation by the Office of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation are stopped; that the Residents’ Assembly and its decisions regarding its internal functioning will be respected by all; and that until such mediated discussions have reached an outcome there will be no more physical destruction (ie roads, forests & parks, houses) or threats on visas and maintenances.
At the recommendation of Dena Mirriam, Chairperson of International Advisory Council, the Governing Board and Secretary, Auroville Foundation have invited Mr. Raghu Ananthanarayanan to ‘help address some of the core issues dividing the community’ and with the purpose ‘enabling the stakeholders of Auroville to arrive at a consensus and commit to a way forward’. We have written to both Dena Mirriam and Mr. Raghu Ananthanarayanan to express deep concerns about the inappropriateness of both of these stated aims. It has been pointed out that the communication from Dena Merriam does not acknowledge that the core issue is the ongoing hostile environment created by the Secretary, seemingly with no objection from the Governing Board. You can find these communications here: email to Dena & Email to Raghu.
We will be arranging meetings in which updates will be given by the legitimate Working Groups and to get input from the residents about the conditions that they feel need to be secured before engaging in any mediation or reconciliation process.
The date, time and place will be announced very soon.
Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly of the Auroville Foundation,
Aravinda, Bharathy, Chali, Hemant, Maël, Sauro, Valli
Julia, Philippe, Samrat, Svenja, Balaji, Claudine, Shivaya, Shiva, Suryan
Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC)
Amy B, Bobby P, Danny, Elodie, Mita R. Palani, Ranjithkumar
TDC (Town Development Council )
Allan B, Anan, Dorle, Divya L, Fabian, Island, Lata, Meera N, Natasha S, Tom G