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Cornered Crows React

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Yesterday, the 27th of April 2022, four members of the Working Committee took an extreme step. They’ve announced the expulsion of the other three from the WC. This is a matter of concern for most of us, Aurovilians. The crisis is deepening and as a community, we need to stop all that we’re doing and take a breather. Please do not be under any illusion, the unraveling events affect us all. All. We all need to profoundly introspect and question where all our actions are leading. It took us years, decades to build our little oasis. In a matter of few months, we’re plunging downwards, and at a great speed. 

Today, Auroville stands at an inflection point. And, the trajectory of its future course depends on the present actions, depends on the decisions we make now, depends on US. I know we are all hurt, I know we have abilities to hurt each other further. I also know that, if only we decide, we have the capabilities to heal each other too. We cannot deny that the choice to choose a positive option is not there. I urge each one of us to think of the long-term implications of our actions. Ask ourselves, does it fit with the ideals of Auroville, add to the idea of Auroville. Ask ourselves how will we feel to have contributed towards razing Auroville to the ground. Ask ourselves, how will we feel if we could think of others’ pain instead of ours.  Ask ourselves, how will we feel if we let go of our ego for the larger good, let the other win, for the sake of Auroville. I am happy to forget about my pain, and vanquish my enlarged ego, for the idea of Auroville is far greater than me, all of us put together. 

I urge you to read the following with an open mind, sans any blinkers, masks, or shields.

I understand that the expulsion of WC3 must have come across as a shock! Believe me, when I read it I felt the same. But, put yourselves in their shoes. What options did we leave them? Did we even hear their side of the story? 

I know that being in a Working Group, at times, one needs to take decisive action. There is not much leeway for endless discussions and dillydallying. Anyone one speaks with gives one side of the story. One needs to assimilate all the information and make a decision. It’s an individual’s decision and it’s influenced by their upbringing, aspirations, beliefs, ideals, social circles, etc. We selected the Working Committee members from amongst us, after going through a rigorous process, knowing fully well they will represent our community in a certain way. And, each one played their role as per their nature. Anu was exactly Anu-like, Sauro was Sauro-like, Srimoyi was Srimoyi-like, and so on and so forth. So, what’s the problem?

A group with a vigilante attitude came to the rescue. And, further exacerbated the situation. A slew of RADs since December is perhaps seen by the WC4, as a brash exhibition of arm-twisting techniques. The booing and bullying of the four during the RA organized meetings were perhaps considered unwelcoming, and virulent. The rash and vindictive behavior of certain individuals, in the everyday life, were perhaps perceived as intimidation and silencing techniques. AVC could have helped them. But, they instead decided to join the mob in throwing stones at WC4. Read ex-AVC member Suresh’s account here. The question is what else could they have done. Particularly, when they believe that the RA machineries, set up by the elite few are flawed, partial, and revengeful. And, particularly, when they believe whatever they are doing is in good faith, goodwill towards good fate. How could they have reached out to the full RA, in a safe manner, to explain their point of view?

All in all, the RA entities did not make an effort to hear their story. And, the WC4 could not figure out a way to reach out to the RA, in full. 

This April, the vigilante group, unilaterally discussed, debated, and decided to bring down the WC4. Interestingly, WC3 gleefully agreed, instead of defending and backing their team. Barring a few, everyone in the community is quiet. No doubt, the WC4 must have felt totally cornered. And, we started the count down of the hanging ceremony on the 23rd of April. Given the deadline of 8th May, what could they have done? Wait for the vigilante bullies to finish their pomp ceremonies? Or, start packing their bags already?

Even if we wanted to bring the WC4 down, did we give them the proverbial honorable exit? The placard around their neck reads, ‘they failed to ‘assist’ and ‘represent’ the Residents’ Assembly as stated in their mandate’. Is it easy to live in this close-knit community with such branding? If they move out of WC quietly, without a fight, won’t we all believe that they’ve something in their closet? 

I believe, the members of the WC4 were cornered, without much room to move. And, they’ve reacted. 

It’s time to be sympathetic, rather than being further vengeful. It’s time to show support, respect, and stand with each other. I understand we as residents don’t want to be seen as taking sides in public. But, if you don’t become active now, then when?

I think there’s enough scope for rapprochement. Let’s not further escalate the situation. Dr. Karan Singh, our previous chairman, once said, ‘Auroville is an arrow into the future.’ Let us make way for It to keep moving on Its track.  

Most likely, the NGT verdict may also come today. Let’s not spring new surprises. Irrespective of the results, we can work on the Detailed Development Plan to build Auroville. The possibility of Dreamweavers and ATDC working together is not far-fetched. 

The RAD can be easily withdrawn against the WC4. In return, the WC4 can re-induct the WC3, so that the Working Committee can work in full, respectfully, till the end of their individual terms. 

Given the fact, that the opposing factions are working for the progress of Auroville, the office of the Auroville Foundation can focus on important issues like the acquisition of the land, securing the existing assets, and access to further resources for the manifestation of Auroville. At the same time, I would also urge the Auroville Foundation to not use the duration of VISA as an instrument to discipline residents. 

Provided, we take the above-mentioned positive steps, we can finally celebrate Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary, together as a community. 

Ranting again? Maybe, but with love,

Lakshay