AUROVILLE : LET GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ORDER A PROBE
[In a letter dated 07.10.2006 to the Secretary-in-charge of Auroville Foundation , the President of Institute of Public Auditors of India, had spelt out his comments on the working of the Auroville Foundation. Dravida Peravai urges the Government of India to institute a high level multi pronged probe into all the aspects and functions of the Auroville Foundation. When China could construct rail and road in the Himalayan heights, the Matrimandir constructed for 4 decades is not an engineering marvel. The Aurovillians themselves in their in house publication displayed a cartoon, wherein two Aurovillians near Matrimandir site will be looking at ants
will and commenting if only the contract had been given to ants, Matrimandir would have been completed]
The Report says :
We wish to submit that our proposals were aimed at strengthening the Administration/ management of the Foundation, a statutory body, to enable it to be fully informed, exercise vigilance over entities that are not legally recognized/or incorporated and be accountable to the Govt. and Parliament on the one hand and the Donors and the Public on the other, It is for this reason that we recommended an examination of the relevance of the present system of Trusts and Units and, the manner of incorporation of their financial results in the Foundation’s Account. This was in the context of a not so well defined supervisory role for the Foundation and the dilution of financial controls, reporting systems etc, Our misgivings were confirmed during the course of the internal audit of a few entities and the preliminary systems review (Report dated12TH May)
We accept that the Organizations owe their existence to the ACT must satisfy the following basic requirements:
Ø Conform to the ideals set for the Auroville Residents Promote the aims and advance the Vision given to Auroville by the Mother. (Some of these are based on the principle of renunciation of ones needs and rights for common good)
Ø Meet the expectations of Donors and supporters.
Ø Be responsible for discharging the obligations to the Govt./ public institutions in respect of Grants and Assistance for various public purposes.
All these obligations have to be discharged within the strict requirements of the laws of India.
We have serious doubts about the appropriateness of the present arrangement to the basic functions of the Foundation in carrying out the objectives of the Act. The Act envisages that the Foundation will be primarily a facilitator and exercise control and supervision to the extent required to stay on course. Additional obligations on the Foundation, its organs and officials arise due to the legal and contractual requirements such as accounting for public moneys. foreign donations, to appreciate the needs for supervision and control or guidance to the entities functioning it will be useful to classify their activities:
a) Social and Cultural including the promotion of the ideals of Auroville Services to residents
b) Education including research and training technology development and
c) Scientific research, Trading and manufacturing emphasizing local/ethnic products and crafts development of an international village emphasizing unity in diversity
d) Providing opportunities for the residents to be usefully engaged.
Some of these activities are supported internationally and are primarily non-profit though they may be commercial in the sense of defining the relationship of the unit with the public. Given these attributes it is important to reexamine the nature of organizational arrangements, management and reporting relationship and above all enforcing their public accountability.
Firstly, when the Foundation promotes a Trust as a settler (after following the requirements of sponsorship by the Residents Assembly) it can not have any link with the Trust except as stated in the Deed of Trust. There is therefore no place for incorporating the financial results of their operations in the Accounts of the Foundation.
Secondly, there are a large number of units that are treated as part of Trusts, some in large numbers. These have apparently no legal status and are not incorporated. At the most they can be division or Branch of a Trust. It is understood that these units have been set up at the initiative of individuals. In that case they are either proprietary or partnership concerns or have to be treated as such. The Act has entrusted the primary responsibility for organizing various activities, formulating the master plan, raising of funds to the Residents Assembly.
The responsibility for constituting various bodies including trusts has been given to the Working Committee. This is of course subject to the approval of the Governing Board. The role of the Governing Board, it appears, is one of guiding the Residents Assembly rather than act on its own behalf in establishing the organizations required for furthering the objectives of Auroville. The establishment of new trusts with the Foundation taking the role of a settler is perhaps to ensure some minimum norms in the running of the Trusts, keep a watchful eye on their activities and intervene where necessary through disciplining the Trustees. This is easily done by removing and appointing Trustees, introduce the concept of Managing Trustees responsible to a Board, their rotation etc. Where necessary, the Foundation and the Residents Assembly should initiate legal proceedings against the erring trustees. The power of review of performance and directions to the Trustees must be with the Residents Assembly.
[ These extracts and many more reports aimed at bringing the trusts run as private empires without no accountability enriching the vested interests under the guise of being protected by the umbrella of a Government Foundation, must force the Government of India to intervene, and effect a complete overhaul of the Foundation and its activities detrimental to the Indians living there from ages….. N.Nandhivarman, General Secretary Dravida Peravai]