Sunday, May 22, 2011

Antagonistic becomes complementary

Self-appraisal at the end of 2011 term of office
The term of office of the members of the Working Committee and Auroville Council ends on June 22nd. Both groups have published an appraisal of their functioning over the past two years. Here we share excerpts from these self-appraisals.

Since the beginning of our tenure, the team has worked reasonably well. It was possible to find mutual agreement between us and work through consensus, however long it may have taken at times to arrive at it. None of us had any particular agenda in mind and that is probably an important condition for a consensus.
Most of the members of the present Council were quite new to this type of task and it took us a long time to understand the complexity of the job and the full nature of the problems and how to address them effectively.
We felt as if we were thrown inat the deep end, with no continuity with theprevious group except for the saving graceof our secretary Sathya's presence as Council secretary.
Therefore, keeping in mind that it takes members quite some time before they can be pro-active within the group and contribute significantly, we think it would be advisable to renew some of the members every year, in order to allow new members time to get acquainted with the work, or to allow some members of the previous group to stay on with the new group for a period of a few months to ensure continuity in the work.
Having a totally new group, new to its job every two years, is not a good working formula. The members spend half their time reinventing the wheel.
The mandate of the Council is very wide and diverse, but more than 90% of our time was taken up by conflict resolution. The most essential part of our mandate, which concernsfinding living ways to manifest the ideal of Auroville, is thus continually put on hold as our time is consumed by conflict resolutions.
To avoid this overburdening of the Council, we propose that a Conflict Resolution cell be created under the Council with permanent members having the required profile to assist the Council in this aspect of the work.
Most of these conflicts are irrelevant to Auroville's aims and ideals. Most of the people involved just want recognition that they are right and that the other party is wrong. We have therefore come up with a set of requirements for bringing issues to us that puts the emphasis on the individuals involved working towards a true solution.
We are convinced of the impossibility of arriving at a true solution if the parties in a conflict do not want to make the necessary efforts to arrive at a mutual understanding. It is a progress that we cannot do for them and any decision taken then is a decision by default, not the truest one. It is far below what The Mother expected of us, when she mentioned several times the need to arrive at a point where what is antagonistic becomes complementary. As long as this effort is not made, we are not in the context of a society of unending education and constant progress.
Most of the Council members already have a full-time job and therefore cannot offer the needed time to follow-up on all of the issues which are generally brought to us when all else has failed and the situation has reached crisis point. This is hardly a way to function serenely. Help is needed to assist the Council members in their task by preparing and following up on the issues, as well in keeping a channel of communication open with the community and with the other working groups.
One of the areas where attention is needed is the communication/information aspect. The Residents Assembly Service needs to emerge as the group responsible for seeing to it that a living communication between the community at large and the working groups is maintained, perhaps through a certain minimum number of general meetings a year. A culture of consultation on key topics through forums with concerned community members who are determined to seek a comprehensive way forward and to stay with the process, also needs to be nurtured.
The Council mandate is obsolete in its wording. It is too vast and vague. It deserves to be more accurately formulated. There is a confusion of functions because the Council is asked to act as an executive body implementing decisions, as a judiciary in conflict resolution and as a supreme court of appeal in deciding conflicts between individuals or between individuals and working groups. We need to separate these functions because they have to be independent of each other and because they require people with different profiles and abilities.
To summarise, what is needed is to take organisational steps to allow more availability of the Council, more facilitated transition between two Councils, more coordination with other groups and more communication with the Community.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Village is a more representative unit of Indian civilization and culture

A unique project of Sri Aurobindo Society in Rural Development.
Senthil, Chitra and Chiranjeevi

An integral approach to village development which includes the inner growth of people as well as the outer development of the community; with a people-centric inclusive and participatory process of growth; where development programmes and activities are identified, planned, organized and managed by the village community with SARVAM acting only as a catalyst of the development process.
Key Perspectives
Background; the strategic vision; manaveli, a model hamlet: vision in action; village journal & TV; village coordinators & social workers; practices for inner growth.
There are two factors, which make the Indian Village important for the future of India. First is that, the village in India, even now in our modern age, is a more representative unit of Indian civilization and culture than the urban towns and metros, which have become more or less westernized. However we need a more integral approach to Rural Development. The integral view looks at a community not merely as an economic and social unit but as a living human organism with a collective soul, mind and life. In this view the main emphasis is on inner growth of the community, which means mental, moral and spiritual development of the group, through education and yoga but without ignoring or neglecting the outer growth in the economic and social dimension. For, our approach cannot be integral if we ignore the development of the outer life. But the integral ideal is that outer growth has to be a spontaneous expression of the inner growth.
The Strategic Vision
Sri Aurobindo Rural Village Action and Movement (SARVAM), is the Rural Development wing of Sri Aurobindo Society. The SARVAM can be considered as an experimental “action-research” in integral community development. The programme of action is four-fold, covering the following areas:
bullet Physical and economic development using available local materials and technology.
 Development of the family and community, particularly empowerment of women, skills enhancement and entrepreneurship.
 Psychological and cultural development through education and training.
 Spiritual development through the right understanding of religion, spirituality and Yoga, and their role in life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reforms introduced by the British were of benefit only to upper caste women

Politics and ethics of the Indian Constitution - Rajeev Bhargava - 2008 - Thus, the first task before us is to ask just what it is that the Constitution is trying to say, to identify the broadest possible range within which all of us, coming as we do from diverse background and different presuppositions, ...
Religion and law in independent India - Robert D. Baird - 2005 - India's Constitution and Traditional Presuppositions Regarding Human Nature Harold G. Coward A major conflict exists between the Constitution of India and the traditional presuppositions of karma and guna theory. The Constitution ...
India's living constitution: ideas, practices, controversies - Zoya HasanEswaran SridharanR. Sudarshan - 2005 - EgGP Verma, Caste Reservation in India: Law and the Constitution, Chugh Publications, Allahabad, 1980; BAV Sharma and ... related example of the transnational discourse is, Clark D. Cunningham and NR Madhava Menon, 'Race, Class, Caste . ...
Power and contestation: India since 1989 - Page 15 - Nivedita MenonAditya Nigam - 2007 - The recalcitrance of caste The "backward castes" in power The period since the mid- to late 1980s has seen a dramatic collapse of old political formations and parties, which had dominated politics in the Nehruvian era.1 Even the ...
Recovering subversion: feminist politics beyond the law - Page 170 - Nivedita Menon - 2004 - the growing presence of backward castes through successive elections is an equally significant development. I will argue that these processes produced two very different (even opposed) sets of concerns ...
Sexualities - Nivedita Menon - 2007 - The grounds of restriction are caste 'purity', a notion passed down through the caste hierarchy. Notions of caste purity have something to do with economic forces, the means of production and control over these, with such division of ...
The blindness of insight: essays on caste in modern India - Dilip M. Menon - 2006 - See Dilip M. Menon, "Caste and Colonial Modernity: Reading Saraswativijayam" , Studies in History, XIII, 2, 1997; also reproduced in this book, 110-144. 27 CA Bayly, "Returning the British to South Asian History: The Limits of...
Cultural history of modern India - Page 77 - Dilip M. Menon - 2006 - What is important to stress is that the upholding of genealogy is perhaps stronger in the low-caste groups than in the ... The Bhats charge the lower castes large sums of money to maintain their genealogy, and their poor patrons have no ...
The caste question: Dalits and the politics of modern India - Page 288 - Anupama Rao - 2009 - With regard to Christian conversion of the lower and untouchable castes in western and central India, ... Dilip MenonCaste, Nationalism and Communism in India: Malabar, 1900–1948 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); ...
Gendered citizenship: historical and conceptual explorations - Page 222 - Anupama Roy - 2005 - The period also saw a vehement and vociferous rise in upper- caste opposition to caste-based reservations in jobs. ... Menon shows how upper-caste opposition to the Mandal Commission reservations in jobs for the scheduled castes and ...
Everyday nationalism: women of the Hindu right in India - Page 176 - Kalyani Devaki Menon - 2009 - Caste in particular is of concern to the movement, which faces serious threats to its electoral base as well as its moral image from political groups and parties affiliated with lower-caste and dalit groups. Several women spoke of the ...
Borders & boundaries: women in India's partition - Page 21 - Ritu MenonKamla Bhasin - 1998 - The issue of gendered identities is central to any discussion on the interplay of community, class and caste with wider political, economic and social forces. The adoption of a perspective that locates women at the intersection of these ...
From Mathura to Manorama: resisting violence against women in India - Kalpana KannabirānRitu MenonInternational Centre for Ethnic Studies - 2007 - By the same token, demonstrating control by humiliating women of another caste is a sure-fire way of reducing the "manhood" of those castes.25 Spaces, domestic and public, are similarly structured along lines of caste and gender. ...
Women empowerment and challenge of change - Latika Menon - 1998 - Most of the reforms introduced by the British administrations were of benefit only to upper caste women who were the ones who were denied the right to remarry if widowed, and whose families could afford to educate them, if education ...