Auroville’s Social Research Centre (SRC) was set up by Stuart Leard, Ph. D. Saskatoon University, in 1995 in a tiny room at the entrance of New Creation. Operating as a research unit under the administrative umbrella of the Centre for Scientific Research, SRC shifted in 2001 to its present location in the Aurelec campus at Prayogashala, Auroville.
After Stuart left Auroville in 2002 to undertake a Ph. D. program and later on joined the faculty at the Sociology Department, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, SRC’s management was taken over by its senior researcher and coordinator Harini Sampathkumar, who has been at the helm of the centre ever since.
Since its inception, SRC’s mission has been to assist Auroville’s development capacity by collecting, processing, analysing and reporting on social and economic issues related to the growth of Auroville and its bioregion.
SRC’s activities initially focused on developing an extensive database to document Auroville’s socio-economic growth from its inception in 1968. A tremendous amount of data was collected from archival material and historical documents: weekly newsletters, Auroville Notes/News 1975 to 2000, Auroville Review 1977 to 1984, Auroville Today magazine, and documents from the Finance and Economy section in the Auroville Archives, plus written statements by Auroville residents. All information was digitalised under a wide range of keywords and is available for research purposes.
As part of a major research project on Auroville’s economy (see Economics for People and Earth - The Auroville Case 1968-2008), SRC established a comprehensive financial database. Over a period of five years, over 3,000 balance sheets of all commercial and service units (dating from 1980 onwards) were collected by a volunteer team consisting of Guy Ryckaert, Mukul Kumar and Stuart Leard, and digitized under the conceptual and monitoring guidance of Manuel Thomas at Thomas (V.M.) & Co., Chartered Accountants, Chennai.
This unique digital archive of Auroville’s economic development from 1980 till 2008 allows to extract financial data based on a wide range of queries and is currently being updated till 2014.
SRC implemented in 2000 an assignment by SEWA (Auroville's Small Employer's Welfare Administration) to build a reliable database on the thousands of workers from the neighbouring villages: This was a “baseline survey for longitudinal measurement of Auroville’s effectiveness in helping the neighbouring villages to develop and prosper over time”. The survey showed that Auroville employed at that time over 4,000 people from the neighbouring area and confirmed Auroville’s positive impact on the surrounding village economy. The analysis was based on interviews of 3709 employees of Auroville.
The outcome of this survey serves as a baseline for further enquiries and provides the data needed for enhancing SEWA’s role in Auroville regarding various social policies and labour relations.
Between 1994 and 2000, SRC carried out two demographic studies of 32 villages in the Auroville bioregion. The first study of 11 villages closest to Auroville (comprising 2371 households) was undertaken over a period of three years with the aim of promoting social development by assessing the socio-economic situation of the entire region. From the larger bioregion, consisting of about 60 villages at that time, 21 villages from the outlying region were selected and 2446 households were interviewed during the second study.
Essential information on numbers of households, gender, marital status, caste, education and occupation allowed for numerous highly valuable cross-tabulations. Also information on the place of work and on incomes and assets were meticulously collected.
Studies and reports
Several micro-studies were made for Auroville services working in the field of town planning and of water and sanitation in hamlets of bigger villages. Also, articles were published in internal Auroville magazines like Ritam and a post-graduate term paper “Universalising Socio-economic Security for the Poor” was submitted by Harini at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Economics for People and Earth
All the above databases, surveys, studies and inputs were gradually woven into a larger research project focused on writing Auroville’s economic history over four decades (1968 - 2008). In the absence of a statistical office and despite various obstacles, this major research study was completed in 2013 and published in print and e-book under the title:
Economics for People and Earth - The Auroville Case 1968-2008
by Henk Thomas and Manuel Thomas, published by the Auroville Social Research Centre, 2013.
For more info, visit https://yikke.com/p/7p/public
This book has now received international coverage and is recommended by senior professionals (see views and opinions below)