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Absurdities in the ongoing RAD

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I have been requested by the Auronet team to reduce the number of posts, so as not to flood the list. Thus, I have clubbed various episodes of ‘Absurdities of RAD’ and reposting as one long post. Bright side, this shall help the trolls from regurgitating various times. 

Dear all,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Instead of individually responding, I thought of responding to your broad theme of observations, as a separate mail.

Recently, my choice of words have been somewhat harsh. Those who know me would agree that it’s uncharacteristic of me. Perhaps, the world renowned shock artist from Auroville, might have left an impression on me. I apologise if it’s hurting a few. I only intend for us to collectively wonder, ponder.

I am also surprised at the number of positive one-to-one conversations, my posts have mooted thus far. It gives me some solace that the long hours spent on expressing my personal thoughts have not gone in vain. Many have resonated with me, though a few have also rebuked me pretty harshly. Irrespective, I respect it all. Be assured, your comment has not gone unnoticed. On the contrary, it has helped me broaden my beliefs.

I’m no expert on political democracies, electoral methodologies, or psephology. I am merely pointing out the glaring gaps in the ongoing RAD as a lay man. I understand that we need some systems to organise ourselves, and the voting system is a stepping stone. I am only trying to point out the blatant absurdities inherent in the ongoing process. The ongoing RAD is flawed at multiple levels and I’ve thus publicly posted my statement, announcing my abstination.

Noone ever personally informed me that my vote doesn’t matter. I’m sorry if my words come across with such insinuation. I believe the petitioners will be happy to add my vote to the lot, irrespective of it being yes or no. However, I find it futile to vote in the present situation. Here, I enunciate the absurdities, as I see it.

Absurdity of the intention
Per se, I am not against voting. I’ve myself participated in the RA processes. I am only questioning the absurdity of the intention of the exercise. The intention of bringing down our co-servitor, howsoever may have been our difference of opinion, is disturbing. I can understand this process if our WC was full of 7 members with one set of thoughts. But, that’s not the case. The petitioners know that 3 are amenable to their point of views and the remaining 4 beyond their control. If one objectively looks at the WC spectrum, it is well balanced, compared to other WG. The 3 on the left, 2 on the right, and Partha and Arun in the centre. I would argue it is already left-leaning, provided the 3 lefties act a bit rational. I believe the present WC offers a great opportunity for our community to find a way of working together with conflicting points of views. Resignation or rustication may not be a congenial solution. If we cannot work with difficulties within our Working Groups, with each other, how can we work together with external bodies?

This RADs elimination process sends a very negative signal to the Auroville Foundation. It sets precedence that it’s okay to expel the people whom we deem unfit. We are already suffering due to the cloud of doubt surrounding visa extension. If a handful of petitioners are allowed to dictate whom they exclude, what argument will we hold if the GB decides to expel a few whom they deem unfit. If the RAD opens the door to remove the four, I am afraid, it may lock the gates of various opportunities.  

The absurdity is that the petitioners want to decimate any opposition and install all amenable ones. I am abstaining from participating in the exercise of intoxicated intention. I would abstain  from such exercise even if it were to be conducted in reverse. Imagine the other side trying to bring down some people in AVC, FAMC, etc. to get things done their way. It’s a toxic idea.

Absurdity of voting YES/NO
I believe, given the previously mentioned ill-intention, it would be absurd to dignify the ongoing RAD with my vote. Imagine, tomorrow another imbecile group of 60 come up with an absurd RAD for changing the color of the Matrimandir. Should I respect the electoral process and duly vote NO? I can, but personally I won’t. It promotes and encourages further such irresponsible behaviour. I gained this insight being a parent of two young ones. I do not condone or condemn the unreasonable demands of theirs. I simply ignore them, and they get their answer. I hope I am not being an irresponsible parent by doing this.

One may also accuse me as part of cancel-culture for abstaining from the voting. But, I am registering my protest publicly for the petitioners to take cognizance. And, in my previous post I have not given a call to others to do the same, or boycott.

Absurdity of numbers
We have set up a system of absurdly low 10% quorum, to suit the migratory birds. I mean, that to win a RAD the petitioners need 239 votes, perhaps they can secure it amongst their friends and family. Given the appalling state of voter turnout and present situation in the community, I do not expect the vast majority to exercise their voice through voting.

I can understand the disappointment and vexations of RAS on the lack of community participation. But, the solution does not lie in the reductionist methodologies. We, claiming to be a conscious community, should have embarked on a difficult task of understanding the underlying causes, stigmas, fears, blockages, etc. behind such behaviour.

My insofar understanding is that there is a palpable sense of dejection and apathy amongst the regular residents. They know that the power corridors are hard to breach, and only a powerful few play musical chairs in the premises of Town Hall. Disheartened and demoralised, some locals have gathered themselves under the banner of Sangamam and Mamooty to have a shot at some chairs. It was a desperate act, but instead of seeing their pain, the elites have further ridiculed them. Rather than empathise with their needs, we shamelessly made caricatures of them.

Another small group, which believed that the Master Plan is a progression from the Galaxy Plan, was similarly marginalised and mocked for their beliefs. They’ve somehow gathered themselves under UTG to work the system, to be part of the system. The ongoing unabashed show of power of the powerful coalition of Be Here Now, Evolving Galaxy, Stand for AV Unity, Citizens’ Assembly, etc. will only lead to further alienation of the alternate few.

In the previous RAD – Outcome on the revised Selection Process to be used for: Working Committee, Auroville Council, FAMC, Entry Board, ATDC, a total of 368 valid votes have been submitted online and in-person. 95% (349) Aurovilians voted in favour of the proposal. 5% (19) Aurovilians rejected it. If one already expects to be in the 5%, how absurd is it to vote anyway.

If I were part of RAS or AVC, I would be seriously concerned with such landslide victories. It does not reflect the vibrance of thoughts and healthy discourses. This is like Usain Bolt winning a paralympic GOLD. When I highlight the flagrant issue, the petitioner has gracefully advised me to participate in the fair race with Bolt. He has also characterised my reflections as rantings, and has directed me to not indulge further. Royal Little Princes and Princesses of our fairy land! Damn cute!!

Moreover, the positive RADs to constructively contribute may still operate with 10% quorum, but the negative ones, aimed as targeted attacks, and vindictive practice ought to have 50.1% support to ensure if the majority wants any removal.  

Absurdity of phrasing
I’m amazed at the confidence of the petitioners in phrasing favourable titles. Look at the phrasing of the RAD statements, it starts with… ‘I agree to’, ‘I agree that’, etc. The sense of win is inherent in that. Usually, when we sign online forms, at the bottom, we get to automatically agree to the terms and conditions, etc. One needs to make an extra effort to untick it to disagree. The statements in the petition are psychologically tactile, made to derive a preconceived result.

The absurdity also lies in the explicit over-confidence in knowing what’s right for the collective. Look at the petition, it reads like a prescription.

“I agree to remove individual members of the Working Committee from office through this current RA decision-making process, given their failure to ‘assist’ and ‘represent’ the Residents’ Assembly as stated in their mandate. If more than 50% of voters agree that a member is to be removed, the term of that member ends with immediate effect.”

Absurdity of assumption
“I agree that any remaining members of the Working Committee will continue in office and can choose to appoint interim members. They can only do so in consultation with the Auroville Council. These interim members can only be chosen from members of previous Working Committees. The term of the interim Working Committee members shall be until the next RA-approved Selection Process has been held, and new Working Committee members have been selected. In the unlikely event that all Working Committee members are dismissed, the three Working Committee members who have the most votes to stay on will remain, as interim members, until the next RA-approved selection process.”

The assumptions ingrained in the above mentioned phrases clearly showcase the prior knowledge of the results. Or, at least, a strong belief in securing a win.

1. They exactly know which four members will get more than 50% votes to be ousted. – AAPS.
2. They know exactly who will be the remaining ones. – CHS. Otherwise, they would not have given the powers to choose interim members to the remaining members. God forbid, if AAPS win, they will get 3 more of their likes. Adding 3x to the petitioners woes. Of course, they know AAPS won’t win. Even if they win by some divine intervention, they’ve kept the checks and balances in the form of AVC force.
3. Finally, in the unlikely event, WC members are dismissed…? Dismissed by whom? GB? The provision is such that their 3 favourites will continue as interim members, how did the petitioners come up with this number? Why not 4? Why not all 7?

Full of undisguised and unashamed assumption of a win. Dear RAS, this kind of one-sided process is not very interesting or productive for the progress of our community.

Absurdity-in-waiting
I am told that the selection process which was used last time to select WG members, has been discarded after one trial. Usually, organisational models are tried a few times before moving on to the next. Why? If one has the guts to admit, it is simply to stop the Tamilians coming to WG in large numbers. The vast majority of the local population whom we thought will be forever dormant, suddenly got active seeing their likes in the nominated list. The ruling elite of Auroville was petrified by the sight. Gosh, too many Tamil-speaking ones in WC, ATDC, AVC, Entry, etc. The elites have come up with a new updated model, where a handful will be ‘randomly’ (wink-wink) selected, and they will have to sit in a public arena to openly support or decline the candidates. Ingenious! Masterstroke!! Look at our public meetings in Unity Pavilion / Kalabhumi, etc. from as far as your memory serves. It is of a certain hue and tone. The Tamil speaking populace is uncomfortable in attending such elitist gatherings, much less so to speak in public. The new selection process is designed to keep a section away. The elites have conjured up a slew of instruments of fear to subdue the local strength – FAMC, BCC, PCG, Loan Groups, Housing, AVSST, etc.? I will explore at some other time how the levers are used to manipulate and cage the new birds, poor birds, local birds, and the young birds.

A friend has noted in one of my previous post, ‘When equal opportunity and the invitation is there for every Aurovilian to choose to or not to exercise their right of free speech in the form of consensus or voting, how exactly would your personal vote not matter; by the RAS not counting it in the final result? I don’t follow what you are saying…’
Though I’ve highlighted various absurdities in the ongoing process, I do not see any evil design behind the intentions of the petitioners. I think they genuinely believe if they had all like-minded friends in the WC, the trajectory of progress would be better than now. I’m 100% sure they’ve goodwill for Auroville at the core of their actions. I am only arguing, because, for me personally, the process matters as much as the result. For the same reasons, I resigned from ATDC on the 4th Dec, on my own. I am putting forth a point of view, which might be different from yours. Take it if it’s useful, in part to mull, appreciate in full, or discard as a null.

Petitioners, by pursuing your intended action, by sheer means of force, ‘you’ shall win but ‘we’ may lose. Your machine of ~350 staunch voters is a powerful force, and may bulldoze its way through, but may not reach the rightful place. By driving your new CHS+ machine, you may build a new road to the Court or power corridors of New Delhi, but might we lose our Path to Peace? Speaking from experience 😉