In Response: Letter sent by Dr. G Seetharaman communicating that “𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘎𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘉𝘰𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘈𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘯 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘈𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴.”
May 9th, 2022
Dear Dr. G Seetharaman,
Thank you for your communication dt. 06.05.22 in which you mention that the Register of Residents (RoR) has not been updated since 2005. You also note a “complete dysfunctional state of affairs with the many committees of the Residents’ Assembly (RA)”.
You have informed us that in order to “help overcome this dire situation the Governing Board directs the Residents Assembly to pause any decisions taken by the Resident Assembly before the updation of the Register of Residents; all current ongoing activities such as with the RAD (Residents Assembly’s decision-making processes) are to be stopped with immediate effect until the Register of Residents (RoR) has been fully updated on an urgent basis. Any such decision taken before updating the Register of Residents will be invalid, null and void.”
While updating the Register of Residents is a welcome initiative, please note that maintaining the RoR is the sole responsibility of the Secretary of the Governing Board as per the Auroville Foundation Act. The inadequate maintenance of the RoR has no bearing on the validity and legitimacy of the decision-making processes of the Residents’ Assembly. Any ongoing decision-making process of the RA is therefore not to be paused, revoked, or otherwise impacted pending any update. In no country, including India, is any voting process halted or nullified on the basis of a census update.
Moreover, in 2018/2019 while the Auroville Foundation Office was issuing Auroville ID cards for Aurovilians through the Working Committee, an updated list of around 900 Aurovilians was submitted to the AvF Office and the Residents’ Service (RS) so that the Register of Residents (as maintained by the Secretary) and the Master List (as maintained by the RS) could be updated. It is of dire concern that the RoR has not been updated at that time.
The Residents’ Assembly Service verifies that all those who vote in a RAD process are Confirmed Aurovilians, using the list of residents maintained and provided by the Auroville Residents’ Service (the Master List). This is sufficient information to validate their participation, and conforms with the Residents’ Assembly’s current formal decision making process. This process specifies the threshold of votes required for a valid decision (quorum) to be “10% of the number of confirmed Aurovilians as registered in the Residents Service database (master-list) at the time of the RAD”. As such, the matter of the Register of Residents is not of primary concern regarding RAD processes.
While in your letter you refer to the Residents’ Assembly being dysfunctional, we would like to bring to your attention that the recent decision “To pause all clearing, infrastructure laying and permanent construction work on the Right of Ways of Crown, Radials and Outer Ring in order to enable the community to define a way forward for Auroville’s development…” was arrived at with the highest participation of Auroville residents on record.
The current RAD process, for which voting ended on May 8th 2022, seeks to address a substantiated dysfunctionality (see attached the background documentation provided as part of this RAD process) in the representatives of the Residents’ Assembly, the Working Committee.
This transparent process holds high standards in terms of integrity and consistency, in which members of the Auroville Residents’ Assembly will choose which of its current representatives may continue in office, given the present exceptional circumstances. According to the Auroville Foundation Act 1988, the Residents’ Assembly has the sole authority to choose members of the Working Committee, and how long they are to serve in this role.
The Residents’ Assembly has also recently reviewed, incorporated feedback on and agreed an updated selection process for its working groups, and is in the process of similar reviews of other important internal policies. Pausing formal decisions of the Residents’ Assembly which serve to improve its functioning, pending an update of the Register of Residents, cannot be seen to “help overcome this dire situation” as claimed in your letter.
For the Residents’ Assembly to exercise its authority and capacity to decide on its representation and the due process of its decision-making is crucial and shows a healthy and functional state. Furthermore, once a functional Working Committee is assured by the Residents’ Assembly, the former shall be able to fulfil its role of assisting the Residents’ Assembly as well as the Governing Board in supporting the development of Auroville as per its ideals. And therefore contribute to a more cohesive way forward.
Until then, decisions made by the Governing Board in its areas of responsibility cannot be considered well-informed by the Residents’ Assembly of the Auroville Foundation. We would also like to highlight that the Governing Board has a separate sphere of function from that of the Residents’ Assembly, and is further not authorised by the Auroville Foundation Act 1988 to make any such directions to the Residents’ Assembly.
Members of the Residents’ Assembly of the Auroville Foundation
𝘊𝘤’𝘥: 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘈𝘥𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘊𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘭
𝘚𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘎𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘉𝘰𝘢𝘳𝘥
𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴’ 𝘈𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘺
𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴’ 𝘈𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘚𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘦