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May '02

For further study

Economy Task Group (ETG)

 

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Auroville economy

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During an FAMC (Auroville's Finance & Assets Management Committee) meeting in January 02, a sub-group was formed to prepare the topic of maintaining Aurovilians for further discussion by the FAMC, and eventually for the community at large. It quickly became apparent that a thorough look at Auroville's economy as a whole would be needed to see how Aurovilians could be better taken care of. The conclusion of the sub-group was to request the FAMC to recommend the formation of a special task group to come up with a proposal(s) for another dynamism to energise our economy. This need was recognised and the Economy Task Group was created for a specific purpose.

 

Its mandate is to produce an action plan and to identify the agents that would bring about change. The aim is to have practical proposals that would be a translation of our wish to move towards a common vision. Discussions about how to go about this began in March. In its first meeting the group considered what its aims and goals should be using as a guiding reference Sri Aurobindo's thoughts on the economy of a spiritualised society:


"The aim of its economics would be not to create a huge engine of production, whether of the competitive or the cooperative kind, but to give to men-not only to some but to all men each in his highest possible measure-the joy of work according to their own nature and free leisure to grow inwardly, as well as a simply rich and beautiful life for all."

Sri Aurobindo (The Human Cycle)

Programme

As this would require a redefinition of the roles of capital, labour, money etc as well as the relationship between them, the group drafted the following programme:.

1. Collecting Data: From the beginning it was acknowledged that our knowledge of the reality of some aspects of the Auroville economy were neither up to date, nor comprehensive. Various suggestions were made as to what empirical data might usefully be obtained, on the basis of which it would be possible to formulate a new economic policy. Discussions focused on the following:

  • Study of the community budget to determine the current budget, functioning and future needs of all the services. This would include a discussion of the differences and similarities of what are presently called 'units' and 'services' and perhaps the taking on of a more appropriate naming system

  • Study of basic needs by examining spending patterns of individual budgets. This is being carried out with Circle participants willing to involve themselves in this study

  • Study of the level, adequacy and source of income of all Aurovilians. Some considerable time was spent on the formulation of a questionnaire similar to that used in a previous economic study during the 1980's

2. Other sources of information examined included:

  • A presentation of the results of the survey of commercial units undertaken by Henk, Manuel Thomas, Harini and Stuart was listened to and their database and analysis of the findings will be of considerable benefit to the ETG.

  • The ETG was invited to attend the Central Fund Distribution meeting for April hosted by the Economy Group to observe its monthly discussion and disbursement of income. It was during this meeting that the ETG became very aware of the Economy Group's wish to open to wider community participation and a re-structuring which would enable the community to move closer to an economic functioning more in line with the ideals of Auroville.

3. Other ideas raised were:

  • To carry out an experiment of a Gift Economy where we move beyond salaries and maintenance system to a gift economy based on free giving. This has been formulated in some detail and has been presented to the community for consideration.

  • To build a more open and transparent atmosphere with regard to the many realities of our economic functioning by making a list of FAQ's (frequently asked questions). This is being worked on and will be made accessible on the AVNet and in the AVNews.

Throughout these discussions, and particularly in relation to the collection of information, it has become evident that without a clear definition of our aims and objectives the work could be rendered meaningless. We have therefore decided that we will spend some time focusing on our directions and ultimate goal.

Submitted by the Economy Task Group May 2002

 

Contact: economy@auroville.org.in 

 

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