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December 2005

 

A decrease of Auroville’s population

- Carel

Predicting the development of Auroville's population is close to impossible. A year ago the Auroville Planning and Development Council, asked to draft a 5-year development plan, studied the population statistics and concluded that it was unable to make any comfortable prognosis. According to figures obtained from Auroville's Residents' Service, the average growth of 7% in the years 1996-1998 had slowed down to 3% - 4% in the years 2002 – 2004. The APDC thought that the main factors responsible for the slow growth were the non-availability of sufficient housing, infrastructure, educational facilities, and work spaces. Optimistically assuming a yearly growth rate of 8 to 11 % for the next 15 years which afterwards would stabilise at 11%, the APDC calculated that Auroville's ultimate population of 50,000 people would only be achieved after 35 years. A population of 5,000 people (10% of the targeted population) might only manifest in 2016. Because of these uncertainties, the APDC decided to concentrate on a development plan for a city of 3,000 people, instead of a five-year plan.
But though the APDC knew that its assumptions might be optimistic, no one, in fact, had expected that the population would fall. And so it came as a shock when, in November 2005, the Residents' Service informed the community that, compared to 2004, the population had decreased by 20 people.

Table 1: Newcomers and Aurovilians accepted/refused by the Entry Group 2002-2005

Status 2002 2003 2004 Nov.2005
Accepted as Newcomer 80 67 69 64
Refused as Newcomer 11 0 9 1
Newcomer period terminated 3 2 9 1
Newcomers who left on their own initiative 11 10 25 26
Newcomers accepted as Aurovilian 10 37 60 54
Returned Aurovilians accepted as Aurovilians 7 4 4 8

 

Many Aurovilians thought that the decrease was due a too strict and rigid stance of the Entry Group. But the Entry Group members were quick to dispel that idea. They pointed out that, according to their own statistics, in 2005, 54 persons had been admitted as Aurovilian (after the customary 2 year Newcomer period), 8 as ‘returned Aurovilian', and 64 as Newcomer. In 2005, 26 Newcomers left (some of them had been accepted in previous years), and only one person's newcomer period had been terminated.

The Entry Group, whose mandate is limited to the admission of people into Auroville, explained that Newcomers often leave for purely personal reasons: Auroville being different than imagined, disappointment with Auroville, available housing not meeting requirements, one or more family members not adjusting to Auroville, financial difficulties, or unresolved issues back home.

Table 2: Adults and minors population by gender. August 2004-November 2005

  Aug.'04 Nov.'05
ADULTS 1390 1370
males 741 728
females 649 642
MINORS (<18 years) 413 413
males 221 220
females 192 193
GRAND TOTAL 1803 1783

 

Ilse looks after the Master List. Asked for a clarification, she explains that the Master List provided by the Residents' Service includes all residents of Auroville: children, Aurovilians and newcomers – as well as aspiring newcomers from abroad, people who have come to join Auroville but before becoming newcomers are going through the compulsory 3-months' guest period. “These people have immediately to be registered as per the regulations of the Indian Government,” says Ilse. The list maintained by the Entry Group, moreover, only mentions people from 18 years and above (no children). The Master List does not contain the names of Aurovilians who are out of station for a period of more than a year. “Those names have been removed; if the person returns permanently within a period of five years from the date of leaving, the name is automatically added again,” she explains. She informs that, according to her records, in 2005 so far, 41 people have left Auroville, and 7 passed away.

Table 3: Newcomers and Aurovilians who left Auroville 2002 - 2005

Status 2002 2003 2004 Nov. 2005
People left 44 41 74 41
People died 8 6 3 7
TOTAL 52 47 77 48


The figures are confusing. Ilse explains that the total number left in November 2005 compared to August 2004 is 20. “This figure may change soon again, this is only a moment in time. But Auroville's population is definitely not growing. That is worrying. It may have to do with individuals' private reasons, it also may be due to the way Auroville functions. We should try to find out. Hopefully there will be a larger influx once the Matrimandir is finished.”

Table 4: Comparative overview by nationality

NATIONALITY

Aug.'04

Nov.'05
Change
INDIAN 686 736 + 50
FRENCH 300 261 - 39
GERMAN 245 226 - 19
ITALIAN 82 85 + 3
DUTCH 84 77 - 7
U.S.AMERICAN 62 61 - 1
BRITISH 53 50 - 3
SWISS 42 42 0
RUSSIAN 36 40 + 4
SPANISH 32 30 - 2
CANADIAN 25 23 - 2
KOREAN 25 20 - 5
BELGIAN 24 17 - 7
ISRAELI 13 16 + 3
UKRAINIAN 17 15 - 2
AUSTRALIAN 13 12 - 1
SWEDISH 14 12 - 2
AUSTRIAN 7 10 + 3
ARGENTINIAN 9 8 - 1
TIBETAN 3 7 + 4
JAPANESE 3 4 + 1
SRI LANKAN 4 4 0
DANISH 2 3 + 1
HUNGARIAN 4 3 - 1
BRAZILIAN 2 2 0
BULGARIAN 1 2 + 1
ETHIOPIAN 2 2 0
LATVIAN 2 2 0
LITHUANIAN 0 2 + 2
SLOVENE 2 2 0
New Zealander 2 1 - 1
ALGERIAN 2 2 2
BELORUSSIAN 1 1 0
COLOMBIAN 1 1 0
FINNISH 0 1 + 1
IRISH 0 1 + 1
KAZAKH 1 1 0
NEPALI 1 1 0
South African 2 1 - 1
TOTAL 1803 1783 - 20

 

See also: Auroville population


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