Collective decision making is a true challenge
anywhere in the world, and certainly in Auroville! Perhaps prompted
by an earlier extensive proposal called 'Towards a Divine Anarchy' for
a well functioning organisation for our budding township, the community
has been pondering several forms and formulations of the same from the
beginning of 2002 onwards. The following document was collaboratively
written by a diverse group of Aurovilians, many of whom had found themselves
in opposition to the 'Towards a Divine Anarchy' document (which you
find herewith as download
This new proposal represents another conscious
attempt to find areas of agreement among all of us and to proceed from
there. It was circulated in Auroville in early April of this year
and on April 22nd, a General Meeting was held to discuss the principles
outlined in it. Encouraged by the feedback of that meeting, the
group which had taken on the task of synthesizing these principles from
the various proposals which have arisen over the last several years
will now undertake to transform the principles into a proposal that
it will submit to the community for ratification hopefully by early
While always bearing in mind Mother's words
of lore "No rules or laws are being framed. Things will get
formulated as the underlying Truth of the township emerges and takes
shape progressively..", we present you here with our latest
efforts that are presently under discussion:
Making collective decisions in Auroville
The intention behind this document is to begin a
process which will enable the Residents Assembly of Auroville to play
a more effective role in making decisions in Auroville. To reach this
goal we will have to listen to each otheršs ideas, visions and needs,
so as to speak with a stronger collective voice one that tries to
integrate all of our various expressions.
This document is not meant to be a proposal, it
is a statement of principles with which those of us who wrote it all
agree. If agreement with these principles is found to be widespread
in Auroville, then the principles will be used as a foundation for drafting
a detailed proposal.
Agreements in principle
What constitutes agreement?
Consensus among all parties, especially those
directly impacted and those knowledgeable on an issue, is an ideal
that we strive for in making collective decisions.
The process to reach agreement must take into
account as wide a range of viewpoints as possible.
If, and only if, a sincere process has been
tried and we have failed to reach consensus, then the Residents
Assembly should see whether a decision by consent is possible -
whether those who do not agree with a proposed decision are willing
to step aside in order to allow the community to move
If neither consensus nor consent can be achieved,
then the Residents will be asked to vote to resolve issues or make
Different levels of approval may constitute
acceptance for different types of decisions.
The following two points were thought to be
in the right direction, but the group composing the proposal was not
unanimous here. Further discussion will have to take place with the
community before a proposal can be formulated.
As a general rule, any decision with irreversible
impacts should carry a high requirement for approval (say 75%),
while two-thirds might be considered adequate for other decisions.
(Others thought a simple majority would suffice, but we couldnšt
find a satisfactory answer to the question of how to implement a
decision in Auroville with which nearly half the community disapproves)
A quorum of at least 20% of the those eligible
to vote and in station at the time of the vote is necessary.
Decisions should in general be made at the most
decentralised level possible. Thus working groups should continue
to make decisions in areas of their direct responsibility. Usually
only issues or policies that are broader than the functional responsibility
of any single working group, or decisions on which there is substantial
objection to a working group decision or policy, should come to
the Residents Assembly for resolution.
The Residents Assembly will approve Auroville-wide
policies, procedures for the formation of all major Working Groups,
and the delegated responsibilities for those groups. The Residents
Assembly will also approve medium and long-term development plans
and the community budget. The RA may also decide on other specific
proposals that from time-to-time may be brought before it.
Any Working Group whose delegated responsibilities
and procedure for membership have been accepted by the Residents
Assembly may make the necessary operational decisions to carry out
that responsibility on behalf of the community.
Preparation of proposals to be presented to the Residents Assembly
The preparation of proposals for community-wide
decision is a significant work.
A group (let's call it 'the Council' for clarity
in this write-up) will need to be formed to serve the RA in this
The Council may make proposals on behalf of
the RA but they must always be subject to the review of the RA.
Proposals to establish or amend policy may arise
from individuals and ad hoc groups of Residents as well as from
the Council, working groups or established activities. Regardless
of where a proposal for decision originates, the RA must be provided
with adequate and timely information to enable it to make an informed
There should be regular open meetings of the
Residents, the Council and Working Groups to discuss current issues.
All feedback to proposals presented to the RA
must be transparent and made readily available to anyone interested.
Education will be needed for Council members
and members of other Working Groups to learn how to work together
better (e.g. respectful communication, group dynamics, etc.).
There needs to be a single location where people
can go to get information on township issues, to meet with the Council,
Working Committee, etc. (Town Hall?)
Any decision-making process has to be flexible
enough to be transformed as we evolve and understand how to work
together better in the future.
The RA has the right to include other members
of the Auroville community (e.g. youth, workers, friends of Auroville,
etc.) in its decision making process when appropriate.