Economics of Auroville have attracted little attention
Studies on Auroville
Yet, studies and research to date have rarely exceeded descriptive style and quality. Valuable exceptions are an excellent sociological study by Stuart Leard on aspects of Auroville’s administrative structures,2 an essay by Bindu Mohanty on Auroville’s spiritual ideals,3 and Anupama Kundoo’s fine book, in which Roger Anger’s architectural achievements – the architect who realised great buildings both in France and Auroville – have been splendidly presented.4
Interestingly, the economics of Auroville have attracted little attention to date, in spite of the prominence of articulated ideals such as ‘social ownership’ and ‘social commitment’, which are indications of a socially and economically coherent system. The absence of work contracts for members of the Auroville community signifies an emphasis on relations of trust between people, rather than the customary supply and demand in conventional market relationships. Also, the objective of creating a “no-money-circulation” system within the community shows the orientation Aurovilians are searching for in designing the socio-economic contours of their future city.
Auroville’s expansion, now stretching into its fifth decade, gives evidence of its institutional stamina also in the field of economics being sustained by a second and soon third generation of members. It is thus high time for a closer scrutiny and research.
Research on Auroville’s economy – to the extent that it has been undertaken – has mostly focused on two themes: the implications of a no-money-circulation economy and the key role of “contributions” from commercial units to the community.5 The first theme represents a strong preference to search for self-support, and the second tells how surpluses largely determine the community budget for sustaining its members and offering free or subsidised access to goods and services.
The aim of this study is to present an optimal mix of qualitative institutional characteristics with a quantitative analysis of Auroville’s economy. While applying a rigorous analysis, various methods have been used to optimally ensure a high degree of harmony with the fundamental objectives and practices in which this community would ‘recognise itself’. Author: Henk Thomas, Manuel Thomas
Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.