KARAN SINGH WHO WANTS RENT HIKED FOR KASHMIRI PALACE MUST HIKE THE SALARIES OF AUROVILLE WORKERS.
DR.KARAN SINGH, The Honourable Chairman of Auroville Foundation, one day in recent past appeared in CNN-IBN Television or NDTV, my memory is not clear, wherein I heard him lamenting that the monthly rent for their ancestral Kashmiri Palace was only Rs 64,000 per month, which needs to be hiked. I did not hear why he sought the hike, or is it linked to price rise over which whole country is debating.
I thought if an Ex-Maharaja could find it difficult to tide over the problems caused by price rise, then what would be the fate of the poor Tamil labourers who are toiling in the 200 or so units run directly or through Trusts under Auroville Foundation?
In 1999, a Dutch Foundation, Stichting de Zanier sponsored a survey “to obtain a socio-economic profile of the employees in Auroville and to learn about the dynamics between Auroville and the villages that surround it.” Professor S.Gunasekaran, a specialist in demography, family formation and research methodology, who had worked among other positions, as Consultant for the World Health Organization before becoming the Head of Department of Sociology in Pondicherry University, conducted this survey with his team from Feb to July of 2000.
The report states “Our first job was to find out who, from among the respondents was truly an Auroville employee. Eventually we came to a number of 3762 persons employed in the period February to July 2000. The other interviewers were only incidentally working for Auroville. From these 3762 people, 33% said they were employed permanently, 50% replied that they were employed temporary but full time, 14 % did not know their status, 2% were contract workers and 1 % was working part time. We found that the average age of those working in Auroville is young 29.7 years. When we looked at the wages paid, we were amused that they were lower than we had expected. The average income was Rs 1545 a month. The total amount spent by Auroville on wages was about Rs 57.6 lakhs a month and we found that the 10 % of the employees in the highest income bracket took approximately 23 % of the total wages, while the 25 % in the lowest income bracket took only 10 %.This points to a lopsided distribution.”
This is a survey of 2000. The Report was filed in a publication by Mr.Carel Theime of BBC interview fame. There was a proposal to have the next survey after 7 years, the report said at that time. The BBC News Night of May 21st of 2008 among other things clearly mentioned the paltry pittance paid to workers in Auroville, thereby indicating even after 8 years of the survey the pathetic condition of Tamil workers in Auroville remains same.
Multinationals have come and if you compare the salaries with those under the management of the foreigner controlled Trusts and units within Auroville; you can evaluate the difference between both. Auroville, though its nomenclature remains as international city, remains a feudal village. The kind of infrastructure development near Industrial Parks or Special Economic Zones and the sleepy villages connected with dusty roads in Auroville needs comparative study to tell the world about the exploitation of Tamil workers in Auroville. The labour disputes pending before conciliation officers in Villupuram District for years, with arrogant white-men refusing to attend whenever called proves the inefficiency of Tamilnadu Government in protecting the interests of Tamil labourers. No where in India wages will be fixed by age wise except in Auroville, where these people claim they are creating an ideal society, and reaching the next stage of evolution by becoming Supermen with Super mind, but in reality they slide backwards in evolutionary ladder.
N.Nandhivarman General Secretary Dravida Peravai