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Letter written in response by one of the Aurovilians:

 

Auroville, August 12th, 2001

 

Dear Members of the Working Committee,

I thank you for organising the forum on development of our villages. I found it very informative, and also helpful in providing a direction for future work. I would just like to share one perspective that is not often heard in our talks on village development.

All over the world today rural populations are being disenfranchised by economic pressures. That means people are losing their dignity and way of life, being "marginalised", unless they are able to compete in the global economic way. It is this that is leading to "poverty", not the lack of jobs or money. People were never so "poor" as in present times, nor were there so many of them.

If we provide economic incentives and educational opportunities for our villages, well and good. But the secondary effect of this individualistic development is that some people in those villages will not benefit, and perhaps the economically advanced members of the village will discriminate and care less for them, making them even "poorer" than they already are. Which institution will then care for the uneconomic: women at home, children less bright, farmers, adults unskilled or disabled, backward castes, the ageing...

Auroville?

Also, when we consider the villages' "need to expand", let's not forget that the expansion we see now is, and will be, compounded by other Indian people migrating to this area, further marginalising people born here.

We should be careful to sponsor development that will not disrupt the more positive aspects of the fabric of local society, and consider also the basic needs, like clean water & drainage, abundant fuel wood, proper waste disposal & cultivation of natural beauty - things for which there is only economic value by coincidence. The people you speak to in the villages may not ask for these things, but they will certainly thank you for them.

isha@auroville.org.in 

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