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The Circles

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Circle update Jan 2002

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Auroville Economy 2000

The 'Circles' are one aspect of the experiment Auroville Economy 2000, which underlines the basic principles of the Mother's Dream, one of which is losing the sense of personal possession. Based on this, the Circles are exploring ways to:

  • attain 'No exchange of money in Auroville'

  • de-link work from income

  • promote services that would assure the basic needs of all and that are largely staffed by Aurovilians

  • encourage trust, love and sharing among participants

Circles of 30 to 40 Aurovilians

During a seminar on the Auroville Economy held in July 1999, a suggestion was made to encourage the formation of various groups of 10-30 Aurovilians to work on experimental approaches to dealing with day-to-day economic issues. In response to this, several Circles have formed to facilitate sharing and a movement towards awareness of one another. The idea is that small groups will be able to develop mutual trust and concern, and it will be easier to keep an overview of the economic flow. Participants from each Circle have volunteered to serve as coordinators.

Nine circles

At present (December '00), there are 307 Aurovilians and Newcomers (227 adults, 26 students and 54 children) gathered in nine Circles. Aurovilians with mutual interests or who are living or working in the same location have formed five Circles and, four Circles have been formed at random. Participation in any of the Circles is voluntary. To keep to the original intention, the formation of new Circles will be needed as participation increases.

Mutual knowledge and understanding

For participants of the Circles, basic needs such as food, clothing, health care and transportation are reasonably satisfied, although shelter remains a serious community problem. Other basic needs that depend on many personal variants are also taken into consideration. It can be seen that in Circles that function well, mutual knowledge and understanding of the special needs of each participant would be one formidable way to provide for them.

Accounted through Financial Service

The transactions of the Circles are accounted through the Financial Service. Participants, which include families, put together whatever income they use for monthly basic needs, regardless of the source, into their respective Circle account. Each individual or family receives a monthly statement of expenditure. The total income and expenditure of all the Circles is combined in a buffer account where any surplus or deficit is recorded.

Monthly deficit

The Central Fund takes the responsibility to cover any deficit, which, for the first six months averaged around Rs 23,000/ per month (or about Rs 75 per person per month). However, looking at the expenditure of the last two months gives an indication that the deficit for the next six months will be approximately Rs 75,000 to 1,00,000 per month.

Buffer needed

The buffer is part of the Central Fund, which maintains many of the activities of Auroville. There is little allowance available for any deficits of the Circles. Therefore, additional efforts are being made to raise funds to secure a buffer up to the level projected for the next six months. The first response has been from one of Auroville's commercial units, Maroma, with a generous offer to guarantee Rs 1,00,000 per month through March 2001.

What have the Circles achieved during the first six months?

It has been observed that participants have begun to join resources and there has been a process of detachment from personal income, and a movement towards a more sharing economy. The feeling of the participants is generally positive. In some, there is the expectation that somehow the right solutions will be found and changes made, which will satisfy everyone, while making Auroville a better place. In others, there is awareness that thoughtful, positive action is necessary. Some of those who initially were sceptical about the Circles are now making suggestions on how they could succeed.

New services

Promoting services that would assure the basic needs of all is an important element of an economy in which there is no exchange of money. Obviously, the initiative to start new services is what is needed. However, such initiative does not happen very often. Furthermore, a new service or an expanded one requires financial backing, which may not be readily available. In spite of all these difficulties, one such recent initiative, a highly creative job service called Connections, intends to cooperate with the Economy Group to tackle the problems of creating, improving, and staffing services. More specifically, a Purchasing Service has been opened and is in the early stages of development. We can also look forward to collective dinners being provided in the near future.

Contact: economy@auroville.org.in

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