Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

The Banyan Talks...

Our friendly banyan tree has leaned forward across oceans. A branch of the tree has set foot in Singapore. Welcoming the bough, this column of Newsletter offers an account of events happening at Auroville as guiding rays of light helping each one to connect with the miraculous place in unique ways.

Sustainable Livelihood – Auroville’s Outreach Programme

Not so long ago global leaders and the media were talking a lot about ‘development’ particularly in regard to the so-called ‘third world’ where the standard of living was well below that of populations in the West. Since then it is becoming increasingly clear that uncontrolled economic development without safeguards leads to some very undesirable consequences:  hazardous levels of pollution; over-consumption of precious natural resources; concentration of wealth in the hands of the few resulting from globalization; and, most dangerous of all in the long term, an ever-increasing migration of young people from rural areas into the overcrowded cities and urban areas where they struggle find work, while the food producing areas they have left behind go into decline.

In an effort to reverse these trends, responsible people all over the world are actively promoting the idea of sustainability – which demands a new level of awareness of the need for coherent planning at all levels. In effect, it pre-supposes a change of consciousness to correct and reverse a trend that threatens not only the immediate bio-region of Auroville and many parts of Asia and Africa, but ultimately the future of human life on Earth.

Inspired by the Mother’s vision of human unity, Auroville is actively developing a practical approach by setting a good example close to home: “Several outreach units have been operating in spheres like women’s empowerment, micro-finance, literacy, education, adult education, culture, health, art, music, sports, agriculture, irrigation, livelihoods and crafts. While some of the outreach work used to be funded through philanthropic contributions facilitated by Aurovilians, more recent ventures increasingly have to put in place a plan to sustain their project. This includes building the capacities within the community to own, manage and grow with these ventures.”

The New Sustainable Livelihoods Institute (SLI)

Tamilnadu is among India’s top 'developed' states, and yet it has one of the highest levels of malnutrition, as well as high unemployment among its rural population. While the service sector has grown in the cities, and the state is a leader in health care and information technology, less and less of land is available for agriculture, and farming is in decline. Rapidly shrinking natural resources, increasing dependence on global markets, climate change, and rising living costs are some of the factors that contribute to this situation. 

The purpose of SLI is to create a place that can offer increasingly sustainable approaches to the government agency and the community in Tamilnadu, in a consistent manner, through training programmes designed on the basis of local livelihood needs and in a framework of sustainability. Its activities will include aspects of outreach, research, innovation and communication. Auroville’s aim of human unity includes the people sharing its immediate environment (we all live mutually dependent, in a greater whole) and further afield.  A creative, constructive engagement with government and rural communities is crucial and mutually beneficial in view of shaping a common future, and allows Auroville to share its visions, values and achievements, offering elements that may help in shaping the profound transformation in which today’s humanity finds itself.

“Apart from creating courses for public servants and community resource persons, Auroville is encouraged to use all its creativity and vision to make the Institute into a dynamic centre that reflects its ideals and furthers its goals. It is envisaged that SLI can be an inspiring platform inviting the most advanced and promising initiatives from India and beyond for exchange, cross fertilization, networking and collaboration.”

The new Sustainable Livelihoods Institute will operate as an autonomous institution, jointly administered between Auroville and Tamilnadu Rural Development, and academically fully managed by Auroville, with association, assistance and affiliation from other institutions, agencies, and individuals from other parts of the region, country and the world.  Contact for further detail.

*Quotations in the text are from ‘Auroville Today’.
When will SLI start?
SLI is presently in its preparatory phase, with the first activities planned to take off in November 2014.

Where will SLI be?
The state government is funding the creation of a facility to house SLI, located in the vicinity of Auroville. From this facility, which will showcase the best of Auroville architecture, design, technologies, and conservation practices, participants will use the wider Auroville with its multiple projects and institutions as a campus for aspects of sustainability in action.

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