AUROVILLE – A place with no religion or politics

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Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the state of Puducherry in South India.It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as “the Mother”) and designed by architectRoger Anger.As stated in Alfassa’s first public message in 1965, she states that, Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.

Prior to 1980, the Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, legally owned all of the city’s assets. In 1980, the Government of Indiapassed the Auroville Emergency Provision Act 1980 under which it took over the city’s management. The change was initiated when after the death of the Mother in 1973, serious fissures in the day-to-day management developed between the Society and the city’s residents. The residents appealed to Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India for an intervention. The Society challenged the Government’s action in the Supreme Court of India. The final verdict, upheld the constitutional validity of government’s action and intervention.

In 1988, after the verdict, a need was felt to make a lasting arrangement for the long term management of Auroville. The city’s representatives along with Sh. Kireet Joshi, then Educational Advisor to the Union government met for consulations with the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Later that year, the Auroville Foundation Act 1988, was passed by the Indian Parliament. The Act stipulated the vesting of all movable and immovable assets of the city in a foundation, known as Auroville Foundation and the creation of a three-tier governing system: the Governing Board; the Residents’ Assembly and the Auroville International Advisory Council. The highest authority is the Governing Board selected by the Government of India. Consisting of 7 individuals, they are all prominent Indians in the fields of education, culture, environment and social service. The second authority is the International Advisory Council whose 5 members are also selected by the Government. These are chosen from amongst people who have rendered valuable service to humanity in the areas of Auroville’s ideals. The Resident’s Assembly consists of all official residents of the city.

The Auroville Foundation, headed by a chairmen, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.The HRD ministry appoints the seven members of the Governing Board and the five members of the International Advisory Council. There is also a Secretary to the Foundation, appointed by the Government of India, who resides and has an office with supporting staff in Auroville. The Foundation currently owns about half of the total land required for the township. The remaining lands are being purchased whenever funds are available.

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