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March '03

Central Fund

 

 

 

How did the Central Fund begin?

 

In the latter part of 1989 an Economy Study Group was formed by the Auroville Council to study Auroville's economic situation and to examine the financial and practical implications of a proposed change of system. In a General Meeting on 20 March 1990, the Economy Study Group presented its report to the community and made a series of proposals for a change in Auroville's economy. The General Meeting accepted the proposal to collectively support the monthly running expenses of the Electrical Service, Water Service, Dental Centre, Health Centre, Free Store and Pour Tous through a Central Fund and an Economy Task Group was constituted to implement this decision. Five months later, after gathering sufficient resources from within the community and taking a leap in faith, a new chapter in the history of Auroville's economy began on Sri Aurobindo's birthday, 15 August 1990.

 

How has the Central Fund grown?

Since that time the Central Fund has grown considerably in size, scope and income. In fact, the growth of the Central Fund has been a reflection of Auroville's overall development and expansion. Similarly, Auroville's internal resources have increased substantially over the intervening years and more funds could be channeled through the Central Fund to maintain Auroville's collective assets and carry out essential community activities. In 1990, the Central Fund had a total monthly budget of Rs 2.36 lakhs covering 20 services. In February 2003 the Central Fund distributed Rs 40 lakhs to more than 40 activities and services, including education. Though it is important to note that the present amount disbursed by the Central Fund is below that of the actual requirements.

 

What are the sources of income to the Central Fund?

From the beginning, the Central Fund has relied on a diversity of internal community resources such as income generated from commercial units, which contribute varying percentages of their profits; project contributions; contributions from guests and
guesthouses; donations from individual Aurovilians; and from interest on pooled deposits with the Auroville Maintenance Fund. There is also the much discussed scheme under which each unit contributes a minimum amount monthly for each Aurovilian working in that unit or, which self-supporting Aurovilians contribute. In 1990 this feature began as the Rs 200 scheme and was later increased to Rs 300. In June 1996 the minimum amount requested was raised from Rs 300 to Rs 750. This was done in order to preserve the basic value of this contribution. In December 1998 there was an increase of 20% up to Rs 900 and again in January 2000 there was an increase of 10% up to Rs 1000 as adjustments for inflation with the same reasoning in mind. In January 2001 there was an increase to Rs 1100, and in January 2002 an increase up to Rs 1200 to cover rising costs. Whether a further increase will be proposed in 2003 remains to be seen.
The form and exact figure of it need community approval and broad based support.

 

How has the Central Fund changed the last years?

Over the past five years there has been a marked shift in emphasis from giving support to the services to increasing support to the individual with issues related to maintaining Aurovilians receiving a great deal of attention. In a section entitled "Taking care of our people", the mandate of the present Economy Group states that, "In any organisation, people are the main resource. It is probably true in even more crucial ways in the case of Auroville: the 'cradle of the superman' must manifest through willing servitors of the Divine Consciousness. However remote the present Auroville may seem to be from such future manifestations, the necessary emphasis on 'people' is all the more crucial. Despite limited resources, we strive to create the space and provide the means for each one to discover what they truly need." The view was held that assisting a few, specifically identified services to become self-supporting would not be an impediment to going towards 'no exchange of money in Auroville' if truly collective ways of maintaining Aurovilians could be developed. The designated services would have the potential to become economically healthy and the funds that had previously gone into subsidies would become available to better maintain individuals. The Economy Group was aware of the risks involved in the deeper implications and long-term consequences in taking what appeared to be a step backwards. Any real progress in this area implies a focused collective will to discover the methods and economic models that embody the ideals of Auroville. A signal question is whether this will is active.

 

Contact: economy@auroville.org.in

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