The Systems Engineering Galaxy of Auroville: As Approved by the Mother by Paulette Hadnagy.

In 1985 I moved from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to Auroville. After working for one year at the Matrimandir construction site, on the roof, I joined the Laboratory of Evolution (research on Integral Yoga) and the Centre for Human Unity (archival documents and the Mother’s statements on all aspects of life in Auroville). Located in the Bharat Nivas compound, both research centres, complementary to each other, were instituted by Kireet Joshi and initiated by Bhaga. The purpose for the initiative, with regard to the Centre for Human Unity, was to share research and documentation on Mother’s vision of Auroville, along with her practical guidance for the establishment of a model town of 50,000 inhabitants, whose planning she had entrusted to Roger Anger. The funds for my work, which was designated as a team-project and signed accordingly by all other members, came from the Government of India. This activity resulted in a series of stencilled compilations, distributed for free to the entire community via the Auroville News, focusing on the Matrimandir and the town as they kept emerging, interacting with the Mother, and, simultaneously, her guidelines — along with in depth exploration of Integral Yoga charting the path.

This sustained research had been instrumental in calling back Mother’s architect, after an eight years self-exile from Auroville. On October 15, 1987, a seven hours non-stop meeting re-installed Roger Anger as the one architect the Mother had chosen for the Matrimandir; building the town was the next step. As we became a reference point, I received more and more documents, many of which never shared before, from Roger Anger, Suresh Hindocha (the town in five years through systems engineering), Oscar (the editor of the Auroville Gazette), and others. Oscar had also given me the photographs, some of a very large size, of all the layouts for Mother’s town; the two photographic exhibitions we displayed, in the eighties, stirred something deeply within the community: we had reintroduced Her town.

Those were incredible years, living with nothing: the enthusiasm for our day-to-day discoveries was our strength and sustenance. Nothing else mattered: we saw Her town, Her people, real, vibrant, alive. Merged into an immense, breathtaking throve, we felt at the edge of something unprecedented ready to manifest, if only the Force could be channeled: we had the proofs. This ever-growing awareness, lifting us to a totally different dimension, reached the peak when one day, sitting behind his desk in plain executive’s clothes, someone I had never met (I was introduced by the Aurovilian trustee of Aurelec, a much promising computer factory) handed over to me a copy of the magic folder no one in Auroville had seen, crowned by Mother’s letter to the Ford Foundation, 13 March 1969, with the request to help funding a feasibility study to build the Galaxy — the only plan the Mother approved for execution — in five years via the systems engineering. The documentation leading to Mother’s resolve, and how this will evolve up to the United Nations requesting in 1971 Sidney Firstman (Planning Research Corporation) to submit a plan, completed the folder.

That man was Suresh Hindocha, who played a role unique regarding Mother’s vision of THAT town, beyond time and space, eternally real, forever. Suresh is the nephew of Huta and the son of the late Laljibhai, the Pondy-based industrialist (Horizon Sugar Mill — a reincarnation from Egyptian times the Mother said) whom the Mother had put in charge of Auroville’s industrial zone. The Hindocha family will purchase most of the land for the Matrimandir, and Huta was the one who made the Mother reminisce her old formation, in the thirties, where Sri Aurobindo would have been living at the centre of his town.

The Suresh Hindocha folder is my adesha: this is the town the Mother approved for execution.

Twenty-two years later, cycling in Nehru Street (Mohini Dadlani, Kireet’s friend, kept my cycle at her place) I saw from behind a man on the sidewalk. I jumped down, patted him on the shoulder, he turned… Suresh, I knew it was him! Whom I had seen only once, and who had since then settled in London… I was so intimidated at that time, yet now I greeted him as an old companion, so happy! I invited him to speak in Auroville and he, reserved and grave when he gave me that folder, immediately accepted; he, who had asked me to keep confidential the truth on the play of forces that short-circuited the Mother’s submission to the Ford Foundation, came to the Auroville Town Hall and told the full truth.

Below is the text of Suresh Hindocha’s speech, officially hosted by L’Avenir d’Auroville, and recorded by the Auroville Radio, on 24 February 2009.

Planning of Auroville using systems engineering

On completing my electrical engineering degree course at Aberdeen University [Scotland] I returned to Pondicherry in April 1967. I started teaching English, electricity and electronics at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. I also joined the Auroville team as a technical advisor.

At that time I was a subscriber to a prestigious and respected journal, Scientific American. There was a special edition of the journal on cities and urban planning. It was very interesting reading as it was extremely pertinent to Auroville. It was mentioned that a typical city has more than 2000 identifiable systems. Each system could be broken down into sub-systems. How these systems interact among each other was the key to planning a city.

To plan a completely new city, like Auroville, understanding the concept behind it was of crucial importance. The Mother’s vision had to be understood completely in order to plan it properly. In those days systems engineering was the mantra for historic missions like the Apollo Moon mission and Voyager mission.

In that particular issue of Scientific American, there was an advertisement, by Planning Research Corporation, promoting urban planning, using the latest systems engineering techniques. This immediately got my attention.  I wrote to them regarding Auroville. I wanted more information regarding their previous planning efforts. I asked them if they were interested in helping us to plan Auroville, using these latest techniques. I got a reply from Dr. Sidney I. Firstman. It was quite positive. They had provided planning for Maryland near Washington DC. For example providing public transportation, for residents, which was no more than a few hundred yards from any house. They showed how to locate firefighting stations, for maximum effect with minimum cost. They were also involved in the Apollo Moon mission.

More correspondence followed leading to a preliminary meeting at Paris in December 1968.
This meeting was funded by my father, Laljibhai Hindocha, as Auroville was in no position to do so. My late younger brother Harish and I went to Paris for the meeting. The meeting was held at Roger Anger’s office. It was attended by Dr. Firstman, Roger Anger, André Morisset, Gilbert [Gauché] and others whose names I cannot recall. A lot of discussions took place with a very positive reaction from Dr. Firstman. He felt that it could be possible to complete the whole project within a time frame of about 5 years. He said that it was quite a privilege to be involved in this unique project of Auroville, for his company and himself.

He had a few suggestions for Auroville. It was quite clear that, as soon as a project like Auroville was started, land speculators would move in with a view to make a quick profit. Since an organisation like UNESCO was involved, the Government of India could be approached to declare the land, in and around Auroville, as a special development zone. Land could not be bought except by Auroville, at a fair price, fixed by the Government. This would also protect the local land owners from selling out to land speculators at an unfair lower price.

To finance the project, he proposed setting up Auroville Industrial Corporation, an international entity, perhaps with headquarters at Paris. This corporation would sell bonds, which could be bought by financial institutions or governments. The funds generated by these bonds were to be used to promote profitable high-tech industries and to buy land. The profits generated by these industries would initially be used to promote more industries and to buy more land.

There was already a plan, by Auroville planners, for two industrial zones. One would be an external zone for polluting industries and those industries which would donate only a minor part of their profits to Auroville. The internal industrial zone would be for non-polluting industries, which would donate 100% profits to Auroville. The external zone was to be built at land already owned by Auroville on the road towards Vanur/Mailam.  An example of such an industry was Aurofoods near that zone.

Of course water would be needed in great quantities for industry. When the Mother was asked about this she asked me to bring a map of the land. She pinpointed a spot on the map with a red marker pen. A test bore well was drilled at the exact point marked by the Mother. It was a real bonanza as it yielded almost 14,000 gallons per hour.

Once surplus funds were generated, the corporation would redeem or buy back the bonds in stages. Once all the bonds were bought back, the corporation would be dissolved. Then the Mother’s vision of money-less Auroville could be achieved eventually. It was meant to be a temporary tool to get Auroville going. In fact, Dr. Firstman managed to talk to a financial institution in Paris. They became interested enough and were quite willing to underwrite these bonds. The underwriting was on condition that systems engineering techniques were to be used for planning at Auroville. The bonus for them, I suppose, was the prestige that would be generated by being involved in such a unique international project.

It was decided to conduct a feasibility study first, followed by a fully-fledged planning effort.
Dr. Firstman mentioned that a substantial amount of money would be required, to initiate a feasibility study for planning of Auroville. He promised to visit the Ford Foundation headquarters at New York, during his frequent visits to that city, in order to find out if they would consider financing such a study. He said that he would do this without any charge to Auroville, as a gesture of goodwill to Auroville, knowing full well the financial situation.

Subsequently, he managed to visit Ford Foundation at New York. By an amazing coincidence Douglas Ensminger, the chief of Ford Foundation’s India operations, was visiting New York headquarters. Dr. Firstman met him and explained the project of Auroville to him. He was very enthusiastic and asked Dr. Firstman to contact Auroville, for submitting a proposal for funding a feasibility study.

With the help of Dr. Firstman, my brother Harish and I prepared a draft proposal for the Mother’s approval. After a few changes the final 13 page proposal was signed by the Mother as the chairman of Sri Aurobindo Society.

At that time a group of traditional urban planners were working at Kolkata (Calcutta) and about to end their term. They were funded by the Ford Foundation. It was felt by Anjani Dayanand, the then chief secretary of Pondicherry and Navajata, secretary of Sri Aurobindo Society, that rather than going in for a planning effort by Planning Research Corporation, the experts at Kolkata should be called in. They were totally against the proposal to engage the services of Dr. Firstman. We explained to them that we were not proposing to do mere urban planning. Systems engineering was much more than that.

Our proposal was for a totally integrated approach taking into consideration all aspects of Auroville, including finance and industries. We were not talking about patching up an existing city. Auroville would start from scratch. It would be planned first underground for things like water, electricity, sewerage, etc. and built on that.

I would like to digress, for a moment, to mention planning of a building in Tokyo, by the renowned architect of Golconde, Antonin Raymond. While we were in Tokyo, he showed us Sophia University, which appeared to be freshly painted with a light pink colour. He mentioned that in fact no paint was used at all and it was a relatively old building. The colour was obtained by the addition of a pink pigment directly into the concrete. The advantage was that there was no additional expense of painting the tall building. Furthermore, the building never required repainting since it was an integral part of the external walls.

He then took us to another high-rise building, which was under construction. The surprising part was that there were occupants in the lower floors while the upper floors were still being constructed. He showed us how it was constructed. He used massive pipes as structural columns. Each pipe had all the utilities like water, electricity, air-conditioning, heating and sewerage built in. No-one was willing to supply such special pipes except to Antonin Raymond. Of course, it might have taken a bit of arm twisting before Sumitomo made these pipes especially for him.

Each room was meticulously planned, well before any foundation was laid. The position of each switch near a door, and electrical outlets was decided well in advance. Similarly, water pipes, wiring, air-conditioning ducts were planned in detail. He explained that he was the most expensive architect in Japan. He used to a team of great engineers, for design and planning. It took a long time to plan, but when it came to building, it was extremely fast. This meant his projects started earning money, even before the building was complete. Remember that this was well before any personal computers were available. Now CAD programs are very common now on affordable PCs.

He also explained that before he built Golconde he consulted the local elders. This was to find out the local planning practices and the sound scientific reasons behind them. He discovered that unlike Japan, the locals preferred East West orientation for the long part of the building. This effectively prevented solar absorption by the walls. This made perfect sense, in a hot country like India. In Japan, they preferred North-South orientation, in order to make houses warmer during cold winters. Well, if a building can be built from ground up in a properly planned way, a city could, just as easily, be built, from ground up, using systematic planning.

Unfortunately, our point of view was not appreciated. Anjani Dayanand explained that getting funds for the existing Ford Foundation experts stood a better chance than the systems engineering approach. The amount of money required for a feasibility study was excessive. Ford Foundation would never consider to pay this large amount. It was possible that the current experts would prove more cost-effective than our proposal.

Since the Mother was well informed, by other sources like André Morisset and Roger Anger, she signed the proposal for funding a feasibility study.

Before we were to submit the proposal to Ford Foundation, Anjani Dayanand again asked me to visit her. She asked me not to submit our proposal for the above reasons. We had to ignore her request, since the Mother had already signed the proposal, as the president of Sri Aurobindo Society.

My brother and I went to Ford Foundation, at Delhi, where we met Mr. Preston Andrade. Dr. Firstman wanted us to meet him, as per instructions from Mr. Douglas Ensminger, the chief of Delhi operations.

We were totally shocked when we were told by Mr. Andrade that, just a few days ago, they had received a counter proposal from Auroville. Basically, we were told that Auroville must get their act together, since one group did not know what the other group was doing. I do not have to elaborate the devastating consequences of this really damaging and outrageous action.

When we returned to Pondicherry, we got a letter from Ford Foundation that they declined to support our proposal to finance a feasibility study for planning of Auroville. It was quite obvious that the counter proposal also did not succeed, for the same reason.

When the Mother heard the news she told my father that she was not at all happy that they did not do the right thing.  Presumably it was the Mahasaraswati aspect of the Mother that wanted a systematic and organised approach.

I went to see the Mother later, totally disheartened. I asked Her, when will we get money for Auroville? All I got, for my deep concern, was a mild tap on my head from Her. She said with a smile, “Why are YOU worried. I am here.”

That was a tremendous lesson in recovering one’s faith. Though still somewhat down-hearted, I knew that there was going to be a long wait for Auroville, but it was quite certain that it will be built. Anyway it was a reality check for me. As a naive youngster, the world was supposed to be a nice place, with nice people, but the ugly truth was revealed to me, in the most shocking way.

Another curious thing I came across while we were visiting Egypt. We saw the temples at Luxor. There was an obelisk built by Queen Hatshepsut, an incarnation of the Mother. The guide explained that originally the queen wanted the pyramidal top of this great column covered with pure gold. The idea was that the golden top would reflect the Sun’s rays all over the city. Unfortunately the treasury ran out of money and no gold covering could be applied. At once the image of the sunlit crystal in golden disc covered Matrimandir sprang to my mind. No wonder the Mother wanted a sunlit crystal and a golden globe at Auroville. I suppose it is an unfulfilled vision from her previous incarnation getting completely fulfilled.

Things changed a lot for me from then on. Although I was not actively involved in planning of Auroville, a deep sense of belonging remained. The saddest part of Auroville’s history had started and I just stood by unable to anything against forces which I did not understand or could do nothing to counter.

Once I was met by Gilles of Srima, who was expelled from India. He asked me why there was just so much opposition to progress at Auroville. The only explanation I could come up with was influenced by science. The answer was provided by Sir Isaac Newton, who was more of a mystic than a scientist. One of his laws stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you apply force at a point, there is an equal and opposite force, at that point. So there has to be a Cosmic counterpart to this law, which forecasts resistance to forces of change. Now if the Divine applies Supramental force on the world, there is an equal and opposite force to resist the change. The maximum resistance is quite apparent, at the point of application, i.e. the Ashram and Auroville and possibly the world at large.

The other comment I would like to make is about money. If money is offered to Auroville, should it be refused? It is quite well known that the Mother refused large amounts of tainted money, while lovingly accepting a few paisa, from a devotee, for whom, even these few paisa was a truly great sacrifice. It was the attitude, behind the donation, that was important. The Mother was always happy to accept donations, which were made without any expectation from Her. It was not a commerce but a true offering.

Let us not forget that money is also an aspect of the Divine Mother, in the form of Mahalakshmi. If you are offered money or if you have a lot of money, it is probably a result of Mahalakshmi’s Grace. Would it be right to refuse the money? That would be tantamount to rejecting Divine Grace. If you reject Divine Grace, then it would surely withdraw from you.

Suresh Hindocha

In 1968 the magazine Scientific American published a special edition on urban planning; an advertisement by the Planning Research Corporation caught Suresh Hindocha’s attention. Suresh Hindocha is the nephew of Huta and the son of Laljibhai, the industrialist whom the Mother, in 1969, a crucial year, put in charge of Auroville’s industrial zone. This is the same family that purchased the land for the Matrimandir. According to archive material, shortly before the Mother signed the document to be submitted to the Ford Foundation, she wrote “Yes” to Roger proposing “Suresh for the finances” and, regarding his father Laljibhai, “He would be at his place investigating industries for Auroville.” Two days later she added, “Yes, I prefer him [Suresh], there is a wealth.  I am not mistaken.” That same day the Mother wrote this message, in French and in English, “Laljibhai Director of the organisation of the Industrial Zone of Auroville. Blessings”.

Suresh Hindocha’s letter was answered by Dr. Sidney Firstman, explaining how new towns could be built in a few years with systems engineering. This was a logical initiative, as in subsequent years the application of systems engineering to the building of new towns became routine. In consultation with the Mother, Suresh and his brother Harish maintained contact with Dr. Firstman, whom they met in Paris in November 1968, in Roger Anger’s office. Letters were exchanged between them as well with the Mother’s architect, Roger Anger, and her son André, who reported regularly to the Mother.

The outcome of Suresh and Harish Hindocha’s efforts, in consultation with the Mother, Roger and André, was that a preliminary master-plan was prepared to submit it to the Ford Foundation for partly financing a feasibility study for Auroville to be built in a few years via systems engineering. On March 13, 1969, as President of the Sri Aurobindo Society the Mother signed the following funding request that Suresh was to submit in person to the Ford Foundation.

To: Mr. Douglas Ensminger                                                               

The Ford Foundation                                                                         

55 Lodi Estate,                                                                                  
New Delhi – 3
Auroville Industry, Commerce & Finance Department,
24 Rue Francois Martin,  P.O. Box 85
13th Thursday March 1969

Dear Sir,

Regarding: Proposal for partially funding the application of a systems engineering approach to the planning of Auroville.

Sri Aurobindo Society – an institution recognized by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research as engaged in research in Social Science – is sponsoring the Auroville Project in South India in order to promote “material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity”.

Auroville is unique – not only is it a city being constructed from scratch but it combines the social, economic and physical aspects of the city in a manner designed to enhance the evolutionary process in man.  As such the 14th General Conference of UNESCO held in Oct-Nov 1966 passed a resolution expressing the belief that the project will contribute to international understanding and promotion of peace, and UNESCO commended this project to those interested in UNESCO’s ideals. Again in Oct-Nov 1968 at the 15th General Conference of UNESCO a resolution was passed calling on Members and non-Governmental Organization to participate in development of this project.  For reference copies of the resolution and other material relating to the interest of UNESCO are enclosed.

Meanwhile from the very inception of this project the Government of India has been supporting Sri Aurobindo Society in various ways as set out in the enclosed references.  The Government of India has made the project known at home and abroad through official channels.  Sri Aurobindo Society apart from being tax exempt, from the Government of India also enjoys various facilities from the Reserve Bank of India such as a blanket no objection authorisation for import of goods/articles and authorisation to open overseas bank accounts.  The Ministry of Education has extended a grant for the quarterly publication of Auroville – “Equals One” which is Auroville’s official publication.  At present the Planning Commission is considering what activities can be financed at Auroville in the fields of education and health.  However, we are expected to pursue our requests concretely when we have adopted the planning approach proposed in this letter.

It is necessary to outline what little development that has taken place at Auroville at the very onset before introducing – why we at Auroville have decided to apply the systems engineering approach, to the Planning of Auroville what this approach involves with respect to town planning, what type of development organisation and personnel may be required, and where in the above context may be possible for the Ford Foundation to supplement Auroville’s efforts in this direction.

Until now most of the work of Auroville has been of a preparatory nature.  Some 1,500 of the l0,000 acres of land required initially have been acquired though not contiguously.  On this land agricultural activity has already started quite successfully a model agricultural village named “Hope” is under construction. Deep-bore welling to raise the area’s water resources has been successful also. Construction has been taking place mainly at “Promesse” where Aurovilians working at site are accommodated, meanwhile a guest-house is also nearing completion there.

For the coming three years it is expected that major construction at “Auromodel” will be implemented in four phases.  In so far as this advanced colony will represent most of the major facets of Auroville it will provide a great deal of planning data for Auroville proper.

Meanwhile some of the preliminary ideas and planning so far accomplished are presented in a booklet form (English translation from French enclosed).  These have been prepared by our Chief Architect Roger Anger, M. Heymenn and Associates of Paris.

At Auroville various factors have entered our consideration regarding the decision to apply the systems engineering approach to the planning and implementation of Auroville.

Firstly, the Auroville project is of great proportions requiring a large magnitude of resources for its development. If an efficient method of implementation is not applied, wasteful, but avoidable expenditure can easily be committed perhaps necessitating further expenditure to rectify mistakes. It is precisely to achieve maximum result from the least expenditure of resources and time that this planning approach is suitable.

Secondly, the establishment of a complete city raises a multifaceted group of problems which require a multidisciplinary approach that this planning approach can provide, while at the same time keeping to the constraints imposed by the ideals of Auroville.

Thirdly, so far the process of Auroville has been, quite frankly, of a slow nature and unsystematic compared to the possibilities that exist with the use of systems engineering approach, which is highly goal-oriented planning and implementation approach – a process which is efficient and directed.  Hence the development of Auroville has reached a stage when the systems engineering approach for the work at hand is a necessity.

Fourthly, the systems engineering approach at the same time helps Auroville discharge its major responsibility of ensuring efficient and effective use of funds donated or granted to it by individuals, industries, charitable and other institutions, and governments.

Fifthly, the systems approach is a relatively new technique employed in the solution of complex problems.  In a way at Auroville all the problems of urbanisation will be faced at the very outset, requiring therefore, an equally all embracing technique for their solution, since Auroville is yet to be built and peopled.  Similarly, over time as industrialisation progresses with the development of the country, urbanisation will also continue increasingly within the country – presenting those complex town planning problems, which have to be resolved.  It is here that the researches and applications of systems engineering at Auroville can contribute a wealth of material in solution of problems related to the development of complete township, and partly to the existing towns.

Having outlined above some of the considerations that have prompted the use of systems engineering, we would next like to point out what the systems engineering approach to the planning and implementation of Auroville involves treated as a phased development plan, which covers the project from the beginning till its construction is completed.  This preliminary phased development plan was the outcome of our meeting in Paris in December 1968 with Dr. S.I. Firstman of Planning Research Corporation, Los Angeles, California.

The systems engineering concept for a new town development can be defined as “being concerned with planning, developing and implementing a town in a manner that achieves the goals established for the town with the least expenditure of resources.  In this process a town is conceived as a collection of organisations, activities, physical entities – that relate and work together in ways that produce the town’s functions and life styles.

Under the phased development plan, there are seven sequential and overlapping phases:


Below the first three phases, covering the first fifteen months approximately, are described in detail – as it is during these three phases that we are requesting start-up and supplementary funding from the Ford Foundation.  The remainder of the phases are also presented in an outline form.  A blue-printed Time Chart covering the time limits for each phase is enclosed within.


During this phase the major activity is to establish the economic, social and physical goals for the town and to determine for them a time sequence.  Meanwhile performance goa1s can be set up together with any constraints. The results of this would be the establishment of economic, social, physical and population objectives with relevant budgetary constraints and time limits.

An important activity that has not yet been systematically carried out at Auroville is the identification of both public and private sources of funds so that a list of potential sources of funds can be prepared.  Ensuing preliminary fund raising discussion can result in a preliminary fund acquisition plan.

Also during the town concept phase a study to assess the economic potential of the Auroville area can be initiated to discover what industry, agriculture and people the area can sustain.  Hence on the basis of such a town feasibility analysis the types of industry, commerce, agriculture and other economic activities can be determined.  A preliminary economic activity plan can be then prepared.

An important issue to clarify then would be the establishment of “effectiveness measures” so that the goals of the town can be compared against these measures in a quantitative manner at a later stage of development.  Hence these effectiveness measures will lead to the establishment of quantitative goal structure.

One of the most important activities at the Town Concept phase would be the planning of the organisation that would do the town design, development and implementation.  Hence a town Development Organisation plan with positions, communications, documentations etcetera can be prepared.

During this phase also it would be determined what people will be needed in the town and a plan to facilitate their coming – this would result in an anticipated population profile and a plan to draw the preferred population.


Because much preliminary conceptual work has been directed to the Town concept, substantial part of the activity under this phase has already been accomplished by Mr. Roger Anger’s team of architects at Paris.  The work done remains to be integrated with the remainder of activities that come during this phase and later phases of development.

At this stage the functions to achieve the town objectives have to be determined – these functions are transportation, education, communication, housing, industry, agriculture etcetera, for which the objective have to be defined also.  These functions may have certain normal and outside restrictions placed on them, so that for each of them the constraints have to be discovered for example in the interest of safety and health the building codes enforced by Central and State Governments have to be adhered to, this then is a constraint which has to be taken into consideration during functional analysis.

Once this is in progress the relationships between different functions have to be analysed for example between transportation and industry, housing and pollution etcetera.

The above activities will mean that we would be specifying the town concept as a system.  In the next phase – conceptual design all the above functions would be split into sub-systems.

During this phase a plan for attracting the preferred economic activities could be prepared.


The functions of the town would be split into sub-systems, that is each function would have its own set of subsystems. “Trade-off studies on these subsystems can be performed to determine the most suitable subsystems from a host of alternatives, and those subsystems chosen then can be specified.

Just as in the case of the functions of the town under the functional analysis phase, objectives and constraints for the subsystems have to be established, while the relationship between different subsystems have also to be determined, for example in the case of transportation relationships between the subsystems freight transport, and factory site and housing are important.

Inducements to attract specific economic activities (factories, stores etcetera) have to be determined.  Also planning can be commenced for the integration of the town into the regional economy, the transport network, and the social structure can be carried out; such that we would have a regional integration plan with its design and planning requirements.



Examine design options Perform subsystems trade-off studies.


Detailed design specifications (detailed Town Plan)

  • subsystem operations requirements
  • subsystem interface definition (e.g. pedestrian safety requirements for roadways)
Project Management Support

Funding acquisition (continuing)

Interaction with Potential economic activities

Estimate overall project cost

Plan for minimum cost cash flow (preliminary)

Determine development time requirement and time phased development objectives

Design effectiveness analysis – to overall system objectives


Funding commitment

Commitments of economic activities

Preliminary financial plan (for minimum-cost cash flow)

Preliminary program achievement, time and cost estimates

Suggested design and operation plans modifications


Design by subsystems


Procurement specifications.

Construction specifications.

Service and social subsystems specifications; curricula, social services, health services, family services, cultural activities, fire communication and data etc.

Project Management Support.

Funding acquisition (continuing)

Interaction with potential economic activities (continuing)

Coordinate investment in public facilities (hospital, schools, etc)

Determine specific cash requirement and timing of its flow

Plan minimum cost cash-flow

Design effectiveness analysis to overall long system objectives

Plan construction and implementation phase


Funding commitments

Commitments of economic: activities

Detailed financial plan (minimum cost)

Suggested design and operation plans modifications

Detailed construction and implementation plan.


Evaluate bids

Technical direction of physical construction


Physical elements of town

Project Management Support

Interaction with potential economic activities

Coordinate investment in public facilities

Contract for construction

Maintain control of construction timing

Maintain control of resource flow

Maintain control of design modifications

Maintain control of interfaces

Plan initial provisioning of town

Plan for training of social and service activity personnel

Plan staffing of social and service activity organisations

Prepare software for integrated data system

Publicize town and attract preferred population


Commitment of economic activities

Minimum cost construction

Minimum cost provisioning plan

Integrated staffing and training plan

Data system collection and processing plans and computer programs

(Starts during CONSTRUCTION phase)
Project Management Support

Control sequence of’ implementation activities

Perform implementation activities – by subsystem

  • City services (fire, water, education etc.)
  • Social programs (training, development…)

Acquire initial provisions

Train services and social activity personnel

Work with entering population

Measure performance of physical, social and service elements of town-all subsystems

Determine need for subsystems design or operation modifications.


Orderly sequence of implementation activities

Service and social elements of town

Adjunct social development activities and programs

Design and operation modifications

The type of development organisation and personnel necessary to implement the preliminary ideas set out above play an important role in determining approximately the supplementary aid needed by Auroville in starting this project.

For this purpose two organisation charts – (Chart I and Chart II are blue-printed and enclosed) – have been developed suitable to undertake the type of work envisaged above.  The initial organisation presented in Chart I will mainly be applicable for the Town concept and Functional Analysis Phases lasting for some eleven months.  It is suitable in that not only does it take into account the situation existing at present at Auroville, but also helps implement the systems approach.  This also takes into account the fact that a great proportion of the planning work has been carried out at Paris such as the geographical split under the overall co-ordination of the Project Director has been designed until during later phases of development work can be transferred to site.

At the summit of the organisation is The Mother, who is also the President of Sri Aurobindo Society and will guide the work of the whole organisation.  The overall responsibility for the execution of the project 1ies with the Project Director, who has a Project Management Team of five highly qualified experts specialised in Law, Economics, Town Planning, Social Planning, and International Relations.

After the Project Management team the organisation is split geographically between Paris and Auroville.  At Paris it is expected that systems analysis will be applied to the studies that are performed there, and also that Paris would be Auroville’s European fund raising centre.

Meanwhile at Auroville systems analysis and economic analysis will be carried out on the points outlined in the first two phases of development.

In Chart II the initial organisation, although retaining some of its features such as the Project Director and the Project Management Team, is changed such that it would be suitable for all the phases of development starting with the Conceptual Design phase.  As can be seen on Chart II that the Paris work in respect to planning diminishes while that at Auroville develops into a Design Section and a Project Management Support Section under which major functions of the town will be organised, and under which economic and systems analysis would be continuing respectively.

At this point we would like to stress the importance of the Project Director’s role especially in providing leadership and making the project work.  Sri Aurobindo Society has just such a person capable of fulfilling that role with many years of developmental experience both overseas and in India.

The personnel needed to fill the positions within these organisations are out on the organisation charts.

For the initial organisation period lasting for some eleven months covering the Town Concept and Functional Analysis phases the total manpower needs expressed in man years is about 35.5.  Of this total the Sri Aurobindo Society will provide 27 man years, while the difference representing the services of experts to an extent of 8.5 man years the Sri Aurobindo Society would like the Ford Foundation to help finance, so that our efforts at applying and starting the system engineering approach to town planning at Auroville can be supplemented effectively.

Similarly forthe ensuing organisation covering the Conceptual Design phase lasting for some four months the total manpower needs expressed in man year is about 16.1.  Of this total the Sri Aurobindo Society will provide 11.3 man years, while the Society would like Ford Foundation to finance the difference of 4.8 man years representing experts’ services.

Hence for the first three phases lasting 15 months, the Sri Aurobindo Society would appreciate Ford Foundation’s help in supplementing our planning capabilities by partially funding the services of consultants and experts to an extent estimated below.  These estimates of manpower costs are quite conservative and are very rough.

For Initial Organisation (11 months)                                                  Manpower cost in $

Sri Aurobindo Society:

For 27 personnel

27 man years                                                                                                     —

Ford Foundation:

For 6 experts and 25 consultants.

6 man year at $20,000 each.                                                                         $ 120,000

25 man year at $52,000 each.                                                                       $ 130,000

           $ 250,000

For Ensuing Organisation (4 months)

Sri Aurobindo Society:

For 34 personnel

11.3 man years                                                                                                     —

Ford Foundation:

For 6 experts and 8.5 consultants.

2 man years at $20,000 each.                                                                          $  40,000

3 man years at $52,000 each.                                                                          $ 140,000

            $ 180,000

Approximate total supplementary funding needed:                                       $ 430,000

                                                                                                               or Rs. 32,25,000/-

We will be glad to discuss and explain these estimates in detail.  Further when making a specific request for funding, we will be much more explicit.

Hence we are requesting support for the start-up phases of the project and for that part of the planning manpower that is currently beyond the capacity of Sri Aurobindo Society to provide.

An important question that has been left open concerns the financing or development at Auroville.  Funds will be necessary to buy and develop the land, to build an infrastructure, to provide commercial, industrial, university, housing and training facilities.  However, some of the land has already been acquired, while for education and training the Government of India financial aid is most probable.  The international sector of the city will be financed by various foreign governments for the construction of pavilions and related facilities.

The Sri Aurobindo Society is hoping to establish a non-profit development corporation which will acquire funds by floating non-participating preference stock to be sold to foreign governments and to the world markets.  The corporation can acquire land and build up the housing, commercial and industrial activities.  The income derived from the sale of housing, and from the operation of commercial and industrial concerns can be used for redeeming the preference stock. However this overall financial plan needs more careful determination and study.

We would appreciate discussing the above further and await your suggestion for an appropriate time to meet again.  We will be pleased to meet at your New Delhi Office.


1.Auroville in UNESCO                                                                                             2 copies

2.Resolution Number 4.131 Adopted in the 15th General Conference of UNESCO on “AUROVILLE” held in Paris October 1968                                       2 copies

3.Indian National Commission letter dt. 28th April ’67                                              2 copies

4.Indian National Commission 1etter dt. 28th April ’67                                             2 copies

5.Indian National Commission letter dt. 11th July ’67                                                2 copies

6.Indian National Commission letter dt. 2nd Dec ’67                                                 2 copies

7.Gazette Notification                                                                                                      2 copies

8. Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of Sri Aurobindo Society

9. Sri Aurobindo Society Pamphlet

10. Blue Print Time Chart for seven phases of development

11.Blue Print Organisation Chart                                                                                    2 copies

a. Organisation Chart I for the initial organisation of Auroville

b. Organisation Chart II for the ensuing organisation of Auroville

12. “First Approach to Town” – a study with detailed illustration (In French).

13. “First Approach to Town” (A translation to English of the above study).

14. Auroville Universal Cultural Township Project First Phase of Development 1969-1974.

15. Auroville Literature (Green folder)

1971: request by the United Nations for a feasibility plan to build the Galaxy via systems engineering

As Suresh Hindocha unveiled in his speech at the Town Hall (see Part One), Mother’s request had been sabotaged by Navajata (secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Society) submitting to the Ford Foundation, on Mother’s back, a plan by a traditional Indian planner; so both requests were dismissed. But Suresh Hindocha, Roger Anger and Mother’s son André kept exchanging letters with Dr. Firstman, and on 29 December 1971 the latter informed Suresh that the United Nations, solicited by the Government of India, had asked him to submit a plan.

The Pakistan war short-circuited this too, but the fact remains that the one plan the Mother approved for execution was the systems engineering Galaxy, at that time the highest available option – and that the Government of India and the United Nations offered their help, as this letter shows:

1100 Glendon Avenue, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90024 . 479-7725
December 29, 1971
[Scribbled: Roger Anger; unreadable]

Suresh L. Hindocha

Auroville Industry, Commerce and Finance Dept

P.O. Box 85

Pondicherry, India

Dear Suresh:

I was fearful that you had been ill during the long time that you had not written. I am happy that you have recovered, and hope that your holidays are joyous.

An interesting thing happened recently. Enclosed is a copy of a job description from the United Nations. I believe it is self-explanatory. This was given to me by the United Nations in New York, with a request that I accept the role as Town Planner described, and go to Auroville for two months. Apparently, the Government of India was actively seeking help for Auroville and requested the U.N. to send me. I assume the Sri Aurobindo Society go[t] the request started, and I’m flattered.

I told the U. N. that I would very much like to perform the planning work requested, because of my personal commitment to the Auroville project. However, I told them that I cannot—for both personal and professional reasons—leave the country for two months at the present time. I suggested an alternative which would place me in Auroville for one month to prepare a preliminary working document, per the terms of their job descri­ption, and then to return after 4 to 6 weeks to work it into final form. This would allow me to work with the people at Auro­ville to prepare the preliminary plan, and then for the Aurovillians to have the opportunity to reflect upon the plan, con­sider it in detail, prior to my coming back to work with them again to finalize the document.

Unfortunately, the conflict with Pakistan erupted while the UN was considering my response and evaluating my professional qualifications. This put a stop to all further consideration by the U.N. of the Indian request—for an indefinite period, they said.

I will keep you posted on the progress of my dealings with the United Nations, assuming they reopen the subject. If it moves as I hope it does, I will be seeing you sometime soon there in Auroville. I look forward to that very much.


Sd/- Sidney I. Firstman, Corporate Director for Urban Programs

[The Request from the United Nations follows]
Technical Assistance Recruitment Services, United Nations.
New York 17.
29 October 1971


Request from the Government of the Republic of India


Post Title : Town Planner

Duration : Two months

Date required : 15 November 1971

Duty station : Auroville

Duties: The expert will advise the Sri Aurobindo Society for the Government of India, on the composition of an expert team required for the preparation of a technical feasibility report which is needed for the development of Auroville, a new town project being established as an international cultural centre. In particular the expert will:

  1. Review with the Society the nature of the pro­posed project, its principal elements and the major problems (institutionally and technically) that are related to its implementation;
  2. Prepare a draft discussion document as a preli­minary to the final report in mid-mission for the Society, identifying the principal areas that would appear to require primary focus on the part of an expert team in its preparation of a technical feasibility report (to be used for discussion purposes prior to final report); and
  3. Prepare a final report for submission by the Society to the Planning Commission, Government of India, which will outline the nature and content of the proposed technical feasibility study, set forth its objectives, describe the principal areas requiring study, establish the type of assistance required, number and type of experts, with job descriptions and/or consul­tants and the terms of reference for the lat­ter, and length of time required. That expert should bear in mind that, for this purpose, the township to be created is not the usual type of new town. Particular attention must be gi­ven in the report to the special quality and concept of the community to be created and to the establishment of basic design criteria for achieving this concept.

The expert must have:  A degree in town planning, with training in archi­tecture, architectural history, or the arts, or equivalent preparation, and Experience in new towns planning, preferably from design concept through implementation stages.

Language:  English

Background information: The Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, India, a nongovernmental organisation affiliated with the Indian National Commission for UNESCO, is presently engaged in early planning for the creation of an international cultural township to be known as Auroville. Development is proposed within township limits of approximately 11,000 acres and would include an international sector and cultural pavilions, with each national pavilion to contain residential quarters (for students, permanent residents and visitors), and cultural and national objects of that nations; a university; a Sanctuary of Truth; conference facilities for international youth programs; a seaside tourist/resort; administration buildings; housing; Institute of Health Sciences; a model village for 100 Harijan families; an industrial zone; an industrial training institute and a model agricultural village and 1,000 acre farm with Polytechnic Institute. The Society has proposed this project as an international environment within which people of different countries could live together in harmony as one community and engage in cultural, educational, scientific and other pursuits in order to contribute to international understanding and the promotion of peace. The Society, its objectives and proposals have been endorsed by UNESCO, and Member States and international non-governmental organisations have been invited to participate in the development of Auroville. Land acquisition is already under way.


About the Author: A senior member of Auroville, Paulette Hadnagy is a photographer, author and compiler whose published works include titles like At the Crossroads: the Evolution of the Spiritual BeingImmortal India—Towards the Ideal SocietyThe Gnostic Cycle—Towards the SupermindAvatarhood—Human and DivineSri Aurobindo—Compassionate Grace and LaughterBeing of Gold—Our Goal of Self-PerfectionBecoming One—The Psychology of Integral YogaThe Process of the Integral Yoga, Crossroad: the New Humanity, The Little Child and the Holy Knight — A Vedantin Tale. Regarding Auroville, she has published: The Auroville Foundation Act and the Mother’s Guidelines: a Comparative Study and The New Being and the New Society: A Compilation of the Mother’s Words and Archival Material During the Formative Years of Auroville and Interacting with UNESCO during Mother’s years.

13 Replies to “The Systems Engineering Galaxy of Auroville: As Approved by the Mother by Paulette Hadnagy.

  1. This post is exclusively dedicated to the Mother’s Galaxy and Town-planning; off-topic comments will not be published.

  2. The Paris meetings, November 1968, leading to Mother’s decision

    The application of systems engineering to build the Galaxy in five years, leading to the Mother’s request to the Ford Foundation, was fruitfully discussed in Roger Anger’s office, Paris, from 18 to 25 November 1968, with Mother’s blessings. In order to fully grasp the background leading to Mother’s decision, it is important to go through those detailed reports, also part of the Suresh Hindocha’s folder.

    As Auroville was in no position to do so, the event was funded by his father, the industrialist and devotee Laljibhai Hindocha. The participants were Dr. Sidney Firstman, representing the Planning Research Corporation; the chief architect Roger Anger; Mother’s son Andre Morisset; Gilbert Gauché (who had donated the 34 huts in Aspiration); the two Hindocha brothers (Suresh was the one first contacting Dr. Firstman with Mother’s blessings). Dr. Firstman commented that it was possible to complete the whole project within five years; for his company and himself it was quite a privilege to be involved.

    From the introduction to the “Report on the System Engineering approach for the planning and implementation of Auroville developed with Planning Research Corporation of California”:

    “… Dr. Firstman has been corresponding with us for more than six months about using systems engineering approach for total planning of Auroville. He has worked for ten years at the Rand Corporation – a firm which has pioneered extensive use of systems analysis approach in diverse fields. At present he is working as an Intercorporate Director for urban programs at Planning Research Corporation. He has been appointed as an advisor to the President-elect, Richard Nixon of the United States of America.

    From his correspondence it is clear that he realises the uniqueness of Auroville and the ideals and concepts represented by Auroville. He also admits that planning for a city like Auroville would be difficult without understanding philosophical concepts of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He contacted various foundations in America on behalf of Auroville in order to finance planning of Auroville. He managed to interest the chief of Ford Foundation for India, Mr. Douglas Ensminger, for providing supplementary finances for town planning of Auroville. He was surprised and quite thrilled when we presented him a Blessings Packet. He exclaimed, “She [the Mother] remembered me, I will always keep this with me”.

    He mentioned, quite emphatically, that Auroville is going to be built on a concrete basis and it is not a fancy of a group of idealists, when he was explaining approaches to various foundations for finances. Roger and André were very satisfied with Dr. Firstman’s work in Paris. Roger suggested that if the U.S. – Vietnam negotiations were successful and the war stopped, then Dr. Firstman could ask the U.S. President to donate any surplus equipment such as materials, tractors, cranes etcetera to Auroville. Dr. Firstman agreed and made a note about it. While in London he talked about Auroville to the British city planner. Also, he discussed the feasibility of setting up of a nonprofit development corporation for financing Auroville with a well-known firm in London. The firm confirmed that this was indeed feasible and also showed willingness to underwrite the Auroville Bonds.

    These excerpts from the Paris report shed further light:

    “… Firstman also mentioned Planning Research Corporation’s capabilities in various fields e.g. aerospace, computer sciences, electronics, water systems, power systems, drainage and waste disposal systems, transport systems, economic studies, social studies, socioeconomic studies, education, medicine, job training, social services, cost analysis, and organisational planning. (he gave out literature of his firm which is enclosed with this report). …

    Roger asked Dr. Firstman’s opinion of his team’s plans which were studied overnight by Dr. Firstman. He said that these were good and suggested that these could be presented to various foundations as first thoughts when seeking financial assistance. …

    When meeting with Mr. Ensminger [Ford Foundation] takes place, the uniqueness of Auroville should be emphasised. The resolutions passed by UNESCO for Auroville should be shown. The support of Government of India for Auroville and any help received must also be mentioned. Auroville’s present and future status, should be explained. All plans made to date including Roger’s latest plans should be presented as first thoughts and concepts. The experiments carried out at Auroville may be mentioned. Amount or land acquired and progress made to date should be pointed out.

    The next important point, the future plans, should then be mentioned. The phased development plan, using System Engineering Approach (discussed at Paris) should be described with emphasis on the efficiency of the approach. The fact that through management organisation approach, minimum time and cost can be achieved, should be pointed out. The first 15 months of planning must be described for the town concept, functional analysis, and conceptual design phases. …

    After mentioning the funding of the 4th phase of plans which could include projects like university, hospitals, schools, the need for large scale financing must be explained. Assistance offered by various institutes of technology to Auroville should be mentioned. After identifying the Auroville image it is very important to project it to the world. The philosophical aspects like Sri Aurobindo’s concepts and ideals of human unity must be pointed out. It must be shown that Auroville has the competence to achieve the goals set and has the required direction to activities…

    At the various meetings over the seven days period two major topics took up most of the time:
    1. How Systems Engineering approach can be used for implementing Auroville. And
    2. How the finance for that approach can be facilitated by presenting to the Ford Foundation our case on a concrete basis.

    Dr. Firstman’s suggestions for implementing Auroville on Systems Engineering basis is described below in detail:

    System Engineering for New City Development

    Dr. Firstman defines System Engineering in this case as being “concerned with planning, developing and implementing a town in a manner that achieves the goals established for the town, with the least expenditure or resources (money, materials). In this process a town is conceived of as a collection of organisations, activities, physical entities… that relate and work together in ways that produce the town’s function and life styles.”

    The event was minutely reported to the Mother who, endorsing the conclusions, forwarded to the Ford Foundation a funding request for a feasibility study to build the Galaxy in five years via the systems engineering.

  3. Deeply moved by going through this account; It forms a vital part of institutional history and the history of Auroville. Going beyond the personalities involved, the documents here need to be carefully studied by all city planners in India and abroad for the lessons they carry for the the future of urbanscapes .

    What an extraordinary role played by the Mother in concrete terms ! Our infinite gratitude to Her.

    Sincere thanks for this post.

    Sachidananda Mohanty

  4. Thanks Sachi. And thanks for the lesson on humility you teach to all of us. This is how the AuroUniversity introduced him:

    “Sachidananda Mohanty is Adjunct Professor in the School of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. He was formerly Professor and Head, Department of English, University of Hyderabad and Vice Chancellor of the Central University of Orissa. Currently, he is a Member of the Governing Board of Auroville Foundation.

    Professor Mohanty was educated at Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education, Pondicherry, University of Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, University of Texas at Austin, and Yale University, New Haven, among other places.
    He is the recipient of several national and international awards including those from the British Council, the Salzburg, the Katha and the Fulbright. He has to his credit 27 books in English and in Odia…”

    Sachidananda Mohanti was a member of the previous Governing Board, Auroville. He presided in particular over culture and education, and I conveyed to him the many exchanges I had with Kireet Joshi on the subject. He has a deep understanding of Integral Yoga and his comment here is of a particular relevance, for the systems engineering Galaxy, in its technical perfection, is the mirror of the inward perfection the Auroville citizens should strive to achieve. Then, and then only, “the Avatar’s model town” can be built.

  5. Epistolary exchanges re the Ford Foundation

    Before the Mother forwarded her 13 pages funding request to build the Galaxy via systems engineering, letters were exchanged between Suresh Hindocha (at that time 26), his younger brother Harish, Mother’s son Andre’, and Mother’s architect Roger. This was no fanciful adventure. The four letters that follow show how minutely was the Mother informed – before taking the resolve to address the Ford Foundation.

    1st November 1968
    Divine Mother,
    We would like to explain to the Mother our work in Paris and Stockholm.
    In Paris, we will meet Dr. Firstman along with Roger and André to discuss the following. Firstly, the preparation of a report for the Ford Foundation seeking their financial support for paying fees of Planning Research Corporation, for systems analysis in Auroville.
    Secondly, to discover areas in Auroville where systems analysis could be effectively [applied] for the fastest development of Auroville with minimum waste.
    In Stockholm, we will contact the Swedish International Development Authority, with proposals to establish a 2½ million dollars printing press and establishment of a large mixed farm.
    While in Europe we shall also make known the Auroville project to institutions capable of giving financial for which purpose a Progress Report is being printed. We plan to leave for Europe on 9th November.
    Suresh & Harish [Hindocha]

    3rd January 1969
    Dear André,
    We acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 25th December 1968.
    Yesterday my father [Laljibhai] had gone to see the Mother and discussed a matter raised in one of your letters to the Mother concerning the approach to be made to the Ford Foundation, and about convincing the Government of India that no activities detrimental to Indian interests would arise from Ford’s help.
    My father has instructed [me] to enquire, from you in this context who was the official at the Indian Embassy, or UNESCO who advised you to make sure that the Indian Government was convinced that there was no CIA activities through Ford Foundation at Auroville. Also if you can obtain further guidance from this official on how we can approach the Indian Government simultaneously with the Ford Foundation – that is, is there any particular department of the Indian Government that we could also make known what we will be requesting from the Ford Foundation?
    This information will be helpful in our general approach for having the fees for systems engineering in Auroville financed without many complications. Of course we will also be seeking the advice of Nandini Satpathy in this question of approaching the Ford Foundation. Meanwhile there is here in Ashram an American professor, who has very good relations with the American Ambassador to India Mr. Chester Bowles, so as our application to Ford Foundation has to ultimately reach Mr. Chester Bowles – he will know about it already.
    We are, however surprised that the Indian official in Paris should have warned us against approaching the Ford Foundation without having informed the Indian Government unless of course it is the normal practice. We remember Dr. Firstman having said that during his trip to New York on behalf of Auroville he had met the Asia Foundation. This foundation informed him that it was banned from operating in India as a result of CIA activities being financed through them. However, over the past many years we see from Ford Foundation records of aid given in India and Nepal that Ford has financed many projects in India and continue to do so.
    Nonetheless we will be obliged to receive information on this count from this Indian Official in Paris and his suggestion as who we should present our case to in the Indian Government.
    Two reports – on our Paris meetings and on: the trip to Sweden – are with the Mother now. The Mother has asked us to go ahead with the preparations to approach the Ford Foundation. Once the Mother approves of these preparations, we will arrange to meet the Ford Foundation at New Delhi.
    In Sweden we have had a favourable attitude to our two projects of printing press and large scale farm. They will consider these, once the recommendation of the Indian Government was forthcoming. We have already proceeded to have these two projects recommended strongly by the Indian Government to Sweden.
    In the meantime we all wish you greetings for the New, Year.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Harish Hindocha

    6th January 1969
    Dear Harish,
    I hasten to reply to your letter of the 3rd January.
    I do not believe that the official of the Indian Embassy who gave me a friendly advice would like to be quoted in an approach to the Government of India. Furthermore he did not specifically mention the Ford Foundation but, in a general way, American Foundations.
    I see two frays of dealing with the matter, which could of course be used simultaneously. One is to have Surendra Mohan Ghose mention to the Prime Minister that you are contemplating to try and get some help from the Ford Foundation and ask her if it is all right or if there are some objections.
    The second is to ask Nandini Sadpathy to ascertain that the ford Foundation is not unofficially blacklisted and that it can be approached with no risk of complications.
    Another person who can be consulted is Mr. Rajeshwar Dayal who is Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs. My name can be mentioned to him as we talked together of Auroville when he was Ambassador in Paris.
    Yours sincerely,
    André Morisset [Mother’s son]

    25th January 1969
    My dear André,
    I have seen Mother again this morning about the report for the Ford Foundation. She had asked me to make a summary of it, which had remained suspended, waiting for her to be explained clearly its content, aims and implications – I believe.
    Mother has given her agreement in principle for it to be sent at the earliest to Delhi after making some remarks and suggestions, which naturally we will do our best to materialise in the final document to be prepared for the ultimate presentation to the Ford Foundation at Delhi before the 8th of February.
    I have, with Mother’s agreement, requested that copy of the document presented to Mother be communicated to you to know your reactions and the points you feel should be discussed. It is urgent that you communicate to us your feedback by return mail.
    I found Auroville in a mess rarely equalled and a waste of goodwill, which has confused further some and pushed others to take some actions and initiatives that are detrimental to the realisation of the project. When the fact will be better analysed, I shall speak very sincerely to Mother. With her help new methods of work, organisation and coordination should allow a greater efficiency I hope and try to make the financial situation healthier as it is confused to say the least. Human problems, the spirit of the relationship between Aurovilians must be presented to Mother. I very sincerely regret that you are not here to help in the organisation.
    I shall try to keep you informed. I hope that the Auroville Association progresses and that you can keep an eye at it. Everything is fine. Everybody is in great shape.
    My sincere souvenir.
    Roger [Anger, Mother’s architect]

  6. Dear Paulette :

    Thanks so much. Humankind seldom heeds the cautionary words of enlightened souls and Avatars.

    Your learning, wisdom and eclecticism are evident in all your writings and postings.

    As regards the Ford Foundation, on 2 Sept. 1994, I had met David Arnold, Ford Foundation’s Representative for India,Nepal and Sri Lanka in connection with a project I was then carrying out for the India Fulbright Commission.[ USEFI] regarding the cultural impact of international exchange programs. Later , the findings appeared in a book form: Sachidananda Mohanty, ‘In Search of Wonder : Understanding Cultural Exchange : Fulbright Program in India, Foreword: J.K.Galbraith , New Delhi: Vision Books, 1997. I gained, in the process, valuable perspectives of FF’s activities in the subcontinent.

    Despite the onset of the Cold War, and Prime Minister Nehru’s ambivalence towards the United States, Ford Foundation, under the leadership of Douglass Ensminger received adequate support from the Indian Government for its nation building activities. See Douglass Ensminger 1971/72 Oral History. Ford Foundation Archives,New York. Quoted in Mohanty, 1997, Op Cited, ‘In Search of Wonder’,p.40. Perhaps we could have received support if we had got our acts together.

    Thanks Paulette for bringing to our attention a valuable historical perspective. There are lessons here for all of us. We must move beyond partisan considerations and review historical facts in a proper perspective

    Sachidananda Mohanty

  7. Thanks for the precious information on the Ford Foundation. Mother knew it!

    “We must move beyond partisan considerations and review historical facts in a proper perspective” writes Sachidananda Mohanti who, besides being a professor of literature and an accomplished aurobindonian scholar and author, is also an historian. A real one. To be a true, dedicated historian is one aspect of the multi-faceted Integral Yoga.

  8. This extremely important document, is taken from “Auroville in Mother’s Words”, p. 163, by late Bhaga, at that time in charge of the Centre of Human Unity and the Laboratory of Evolution, of which I was a research member. Hers was the second book on Auroville, sponsored by the AVI US; Shyam Sunder had curated the first one. On 22nd January 1969 Roger asked the Mother, re the proposal to be submitted to the Ford Foundation:

    Roger: Establishment of a corporation to raise finance for Auroville’s industrial development only by issue of irredeemable preference shares without voting power, control or interference in Auroville.
    Yes. Such a corporation can be formed initially to get Auroville going and later on all preference shares should be liquidated, as we do not want to employ money to make money in Auroville.
    Roger: Employment of paid experts, whose services are donated by the Ford Foundation, to facilitate the application of systems engineering.
    Yes – but the experts who come here must work in the spirit of Auroville and as such must be chosen by me.
    Roger: Circulate a questionnaire in Auroville amongst its personnel to discover talents and skills available in Auroville.
    Yes – but we should choose the people for a particular.
    Roger: What image should Auroville project consistently to the world and to individuals?
    It is only a little mental affair. You get together and decide what should be the image of Auroville and then bring it to me. I will change it if necessary; and that image must be the final image and must be consistently followed.

  9. Dear Deshpande, as Anurag specified, “This post is exclusively dedicated to the Mother’s Galaxy and Town-planning; off-topic comments will not be published.”

    I have been discussing the same for years in the internal Auroville website (before it was taken over). There is an option, there, to remove off topics documents; but the issue was so clear that I never used it: no one misused or derailed the theme.

    Prof Mohanti’s comments perfectly serve the purpose of this ad hoc posting.

    1. What Anurag has said is ill-conceived and fallacious in an open forum. I am surprised that you uphold it. Sorry.

  10. Deshpande, if you have anything relevant to say regarding the Galaxy systems engineering, how it foreruns the way towns, today, are built anew or restructured – or how the Mother wished to raise the enormous capitals needed for such enterprises, you are welcomed. Otherwise you are off topic, which is utterly unbecoming of a scholar. Certainly, you are not allowed to derail again Mother’s town to savage Kireet, Satprem, the Act, the GOI, Auroville and what else, because of which we requested to remove the previous posting.

    Anurag, please remove any further attempt to hijack the theme, if this second warning doesn’t stop this scam.

  11. The correspondence between Dr. Sidney Firstman (Planning Research Corporation, Los Angeles), the two young Hindocha brothers, Mother’s son André, and her architect Roger Anger is incredibly actual, in its evaluating steps and possibilities as an answer to the same unsolved issues we still face today. Behind this unique concerted effort where all actors, in a sincere effort to materialize the Ideal, offered the best of their capacities, is the Mother, gathering those souls at that precise moment in time and space and acting on each of them. Nothing is more moving than witnessing the extraordinary transformation undergone by Sidney Firstman, representing a corporation that had just collaborated with Nasa in sending the first astronauts to the moon. The Mother, moulding him like clay in his being fully open to her action and force, realigned Firstman’s in depth suggestions to her uncompromising vision; surrendering to Auroville’s unique raison d’être, in his ultimate proposal he adopted a language today much familiar to us, as this last epistolary exchange shows.

    11 December1969 – Sidney Firstman to Suresh Hindocha

    Dear Suresh,

    I wanted to say a few other things to you that are not really appropriate material for company stationary, they are personal items.

    The long letter attached, Suresh, was very hard for me to write. I put it off and them “blocked” in writing it. It pained me to point out what I feel are the realities. Monies are needed to develop Auroville – it won’t happen otherwise. And, significant amounts of monies will not be available except by investment. Suresh, these are the hard realities and the question is, can the Society accept these and move ahead in a manner that can accommodate the goals for Auroville while still being realistic with respect to national or even international financing. This comment will become more clear to you when you read the larger letter.

    I also want to comment on the paper by William P. Netter that you sent: “The Problem of television Programming in India”. As a layman in this field, I found Netter’s paper to be extremely insightful. I am especially intrigued by his seeking way to communicate on other than the world level through use of the television medium. And, I am very supportive of his sensitivity to not creating materialism amongst people while teaching them to upgrade their lifestyle. We in the Western world have done a great job of creating a society of materialism. And, we have sowed much discontent amongst people whose expectations cannot realistically be fulfilled at present, within the economic structure of the western world. Television can be such a powerful force for the positive development of people. And, I look forward to future papers by Netter to follow his progress in this path.

    Without elaboration, Suresh, these are the things that I wanted to say to you in a personal way. Please give my regards to Harish, I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sd/- Sid.

    Dear Suresh:

    This letter is a long time overdue. I could offer numerous reasons such as heavy demands on my time and much travel, but those would be Just more words – the kind that I’m sure you hear every day there in Auroville. There are numerous things I want to write to you, so the letter will be long – and somewhat rambling.

    First, I want to express my gratitude for the blessings of the Mother. I am pleased to be accepted by her.

    There are several- topics I want to deal with: The first will be what I learned ay the United Nations Headquarters in New York concerning funding support for Auroville; second, I will summarize what I have learned to date, both at the U.N. and the World Bank, concerning international sources of development funds; and last, I want to suggest some issues that must be considered in selecting a preferred path for development.

    Several meetings at the U.N. showed that only planning funds are available through the U.N. They are from the United Nations Development Program (so called UNDP). The UNDP comprises two parts:

    UNDP-Special Fund Component

    This program is focused at pre-investment planning of major projects. Development feasibility studies, resource surveys, and preliminary plans, are the type of activities paid for by this fund. Typically these planning efforts are large – greater than $ 1,000,000 per year per project. India gets 4 to 8 such projects per year. This is a very flexible program with few requirements. Ordinarily, a training component is included in each project. And usually the projects are such that the end activity – be it a dam, a road, or water and sewers for an industrial park – provides a stimulus for regional growth.

    Requests for Special Fund support may be made through the UNDP office in Delhi.
    Support from this fund, however, like the other UNDP fund, cannot be obtained without participation of the Indian central Government. That is, the proposed project must be adopted and presented as one of the Central Government. This means that you would have to bring the Central Government into some kind of planning partnership with the Society. Also, you would need to convince the Government that they should spend the monies available to India on this project. And, note, there is a long list of Indian projects awaiting funding.

    UNDP-Technical Assistance Program

    This is a smaller fund from which the Government of India gets approximately $3,500,000 per year. There are few constraints on the-use of this money and each government can use it essentially as it wants to.

    Again, the Central Government is the deciding body of how this fund is used; it is meant to support projects sanctioned by them. If they give priority to Auroville they can obtain funds for planning assistance for particular parts of Auroville, for example, for the industrial area, university, housing etc.

    Current availability of funds, and steps required to obtain funding support, should be discussed with the UNDP office in Delhi.

    I was led to understand that if the Central Government does elect to support the Auroville project, planning monies from this source would not be unlikely. But the monies available each year are split many ways.

    Turning to development funds, there are none currently available from the U.N. as a body. I had previously learned that World Bank funds could be obtained for infrastructure development in Auroville, i.e. roads, utilities, transport. This is a new program. But, again, this would depend upon Auroville being a project sponsored in some way by the Central Government of India
    It appears then, Suresh, that, being realistic, in order to obtain funds of any kind through such international- groups as the U.N., World Bank, etc., the Auroville project would need to be seen as one of the Central Government – at least one in which they are a “sponsoring agency”.

    The only sources of planning funds which could be obtained without the direct involvement of the Central Government are foundations such as Ford and Rockefeller. Thus, it would appear that there are two paths to obtain funds to support planning:

    1. Work closely with the Central Government, so that they essentially become “co-sponsors” of Auroville.

    2. Propose to foundations for planning support. (Have you had any further contact with Ford?)
    Assuming that planning work had been done. Auroville would still be faced with the task of obtaining development money. Funds would still be needed for the balance of the land acquisition, for the land development, housing, initial industrial site development, commercial development, the university (possibly a special case) , etc. From where will these funds come? I have posed this question before and now I pose it again. Let me give you my current reactions to this question.

    I want to preface my remarks by relating what I was told by Mr. Gerald Desmond at the United Nations. Mr. Desmond is concerned with development planning and plays a role in the UNDP. When I described the Auroville project to Mr. Desmond and asked about the availability of planning or development monies, his reactions were several fold. First, he commented favourably on the goals of Auroville. Auroville would be the culmination of many dreams beyond those of the Society. Second Mr. Desmond stressed that in order to involve the UN in any manner we would need to show a very positive role for Auroville in the economic development of the region surrounding the town. Third, positive relationships with both the Madras State and Central Governments would need to be demonstrated as a basis for any international funds. Fourth, he stressed that the Society would have to demonstrate that it was able to make an initial investment in the project, such as for land acquisition, before other development funds would be forthcoming. He summed up by saying that Auroville would need to be shown to play a direct and positive role in the economic development of the region and the town would need to proven to be economically feasible. Only then, does he feel that we could successfully go to the international community (including individual countries and private sources) for funding support. In other words, Mr. Desmond was pointing out that regardless of the ideals and the goals of Auroville, it must prove itself as economically feasible and desirable before international development money (from any source) could be expected to be forthcoming.
    Mr. Desmond’s reactions were similar to numerous others I have incurred. And, I see no alternative.

    So, where do we go from here? If Auroville were an ordinary type of new town development, the following steps would be appropriate at this time:

    1. Determine assets or capital the Society could bring to a development partnership, so as to maintain an equity position adequate for maintaining control of purpose and design.

    2. Seek out a financial organization to bring in as a partner in development. This financial organization, possibly an insurance company, would be allowed to make a significant investment of its capital in land acquisition and development. This will provide for the necessary initial development functions while giving the financial organization the opportunity to obtain a fair return on its capital.

    3. A large industrial organization would be sought as partner. This organization would be one that could profitably invest in a new facility located in Auroville. This is not intended to say that Auroville would become a company town, but that an initial significant base of employment would be provided by this partner organization.

    4. Then, the hypothetical Auroville Development Corporation would be in position to acquire land and to develop it. The corporation would develop the infrastructure, some commercial sites, an initial industrial park, initial housing, and such. A system approach would still be appropriate for planning and construction.

    5. Outside investment would be sought further to further develop commerce and industry and provide for construction of purchase and rental housing.

    6. The Government would be brought in to provide what it can – schools, training institutions, social programs, etc.

    In this manner, by organizing a development corporation and bringing into it the other organizations with the necessary strength to do the land acquisition and development, the Auroville project could proceed as a standard economic development program. All this assumes that Auroville were an ordinary type of new town development – which, of source, it is not. But, may be middle ground position can be found.

    From the above several paragraphs, Suresh, it would appear that Auroville is in a very difficult position. And, I am sure that this comes as no surprise. On the one hand, to obtain international support either of planning or development, the Society would need to bring the Central Government into some kind of partnership, thereby subjecting Auroville to all the pressures that such a partnership implies. On the other hand, to obtain development funds, so necessary and currently so lacking, it is possible that a partnership with a financial group and an industrial group would be necessary. And, this raises serious questions of another kind. What conflict would there be between the goals of Auroville and the goals of any partnership? Possibly, however, you could find partners for a development corporation who will share the ideals of Auroville – or at least, would not force development in a manner that would compromise these ideals. And, note, that even if you were to go into a partnership with the Central Government, you would still be in need of initial development money far beyond those provided by the World Bank or other international groups. And, again, you would be forced to look towards financial or industrial groups for funding support.

    Suresh, let me suggest the following sequence of activities:

    1. The Society should again consider the relationship you want to have with the Central Government of India. That is, is the Society prepared to bring the Central Government into a partnership in developing Auroville? If not, the Society is effectively blocked from utilising any U.N. or World Bank funds.

    2. Assuming that the Society will want to retain autonomy from the central Government, I suggest that a careful examination of economic feasibility be made. I am not an economist, but economic feasibility in this case implies to me that:

    a. Auroville can produce a range of products for which markets exist, both nationally and internationally. (Your ferrite plant experience demonstrates that positive answers can be found here).

    b. Access to raw materials for the production of these products and access to the markets are feasible, considering the transportation available from Auroville by land and water.

    c. There is sufficient industry in the vicinity of Auroville to supply needed parts and materials and other supporting production to Auroville industries.

    d. A work force is available to the Auroville industry, and it can be trained to perform the necessary technological functions.

    3. Examine the potential conflict between the requirements of economic feasibility and the purposes of Auroville. Is it likely the development of people will be sacrificed to the development of capital? Or, can it be seen clearly, that men will be able to live a life that will aIlow them to develop their inner selves while still meeting the demands of the economy?

    4. Assuming that you can see your way clear to retain the purposes of Auroville while also achieving economic feasibility, then I would suggest that you take initial steps to try to put together a development corporation – the line of the steps outlined above. I suggest that you seek a financial member or members, and consider what we previously discussed, namely the creation of stock (non-voting) as a means for achieving capitalization. Also, you should seek an industrial member. Preferably an Indian firm or an Indian subsidiary of an international firm. The questions here are: Can compatible partners be found, and can adequate safeguards for Auroville’s purposes be built into the development corporation agreements?

    If the fourth step works out, i.e. if you can put together the development corporation partners in a manner that is compatible with the development goals of Auroville, then you are in a position to move out. The role for the Indian Government will be that which we have previously discussed, i.e. providing subsidies to various training and social programs. Other national governments could also be approached for participation, as you had previously planned. Avoided has been the need for outside financial help for planning – such as that given by a foundation.

    I recognize that in all I have written here, Suresh, the notion of compromise comes back and back. I don’t see any way around some compromise at this point if Auroville is to be built. The question is what compromise can be made in the development of Auroville? And, I want to express my concern for the possibility of compromise, for I understand how firmly committed you and others of the Society are to the pure ideals of Auroville. But, I would be dishonest if I did not point out my feeling that the realities of development financing require some manner of partnership, either with the Central Government or with some industrial and financial organizations.

    Suresh, I look forward to your reactions to this letter. Again, my tardiness in writing notwithstanding, Iet me remind you that I stand ready to help you and Auroville in any way I can.

    Sidney I. Firstman
    Intercorporate Director
    for Urban Systems Analysis

    29 December 1969 – Suresh Hindocha to André Morisset

    Dear André

    I am enclosing a copy of a letter from Dr. S. I. Firstman of Planning of Planning Research Corporation, which I believe to be very important for Auroville. A summary of this letter was shown to the Mother and Her comments were as follows:

    i. No compromise. Auroville must remain autonomous in order to transform the old order into a new order of harmony and good will.

    ii. It is better for Auroville to be self-sufficient than to rely on conditional financial aid which may be sporadic in nature. What Auroville needs is continuous progress.

    iii. However any aid given to Auroville out of sheer good will of any institution or government will be welcomed because it stems from good will for Auroville.

    The above is not exactly what the Mother had said but it is what I have understood from my father when he saw the Mother.

    I am looking forward to your reactions, suggestions and any other comments regarding Dr. Firstman’s letter.

    Meanwhile I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy new year and more.

    Suresh Hindocha

    5 January 1970 – André Morisset to Suresh Hindocha

    Dear Suresh,

    I have read with great which interest Firstman’s letter which was included in yours of the 29th December.

    There is no doubt that he has well understood the Auroville problem but he still considers that the development of Auroville has to follow a similar pattern to that of other cities. He thinks that planning and financing must be secured before actual work is started on the site. Hence the necessity of compromise which comes again and again in his letter.

    The two points which seem to me to be quite true in his views are:

    1. Nothing can be started without the agreement, at least tacit, of the Central Government and of the Governments of Madras and Pondicherry.

    2. An organisation has to handle financial matters with the scope of showing how Auroville is to be self-sufficient. This organisation has to be international and different from the Sri Aurobindo Society.

    As regards point 1, the present situation seems favourable inasmuch as the Central Government and the Pondicherry Government are prepared to help, and the Madras Government is more or less neutral. There is some likelihood that financial help can be secured through international agencies for particular projects which can at once be needed by Auroville and useful to India. For instance the television and satellite programme and some parts of the International University.
    As regards point 2, the founding of Auroville International is aimed at fulfilling the scope. It ought to unite the good will existing in various countries and generate more of it. It ought to overcome the danger of compromise as it is foreseen by Firstman.

    And everything to be coordinated by Mother…


    7 May 1970 – Sidney Firstman to Suresh and Harish Hindocha

    Dear Suresh and Harish,

    A letter from Harish arrived – I found it waiting upon my return from a business a trip. In it, Harish tells that you, Suresh, have been ill with a kidney ailment recently. I know there can be particularly disabling experiences. I sincerely hope you have recovered and are now feeling your normal self again.

    Harish’s letter also described the prevailing organizational thought. I perceived the situation of a few wanting a purposeful and focused development, path, expressed in a program and organization, and others, the majority, who wants to allow the development of Auroville to occur as it will. I find my thinking at this time to be somewhere between the two. Let me share it with you.

    There are several ways to introduce my most recent line of thinking. And, in fact, I came to my conclusions after various starts. Let me tell you about three of them.

    While reading the letters that you, Suresh, had sent to me from Julie Medlock and André Morisset, I was impressed with the thought that perhaps I had been too mechanistic or too goal-directed without a proper spirit of purpose and emotion that overcomes obstacles. Further I felt that perhaps I was being too time-table oriented in wanting to develop Auroville in 5 to 10 years, while I find Miss Medlock speaking of 50 to 100 years as the possible time table. And, André in his gentlemanly manner observed that I am too much wedded to the development path of the west. I was and in fact still am, wedded to the development paths of the west, but Auroville is not of the west. Therefore, I began to rethink my previous positions concerning the development of Auroville.

    At the same time, reacting to your letter, Suresh, I began to realize that we need a planning and development approach that is consistent with the current reality of Auroville. That is, Auroville does not have funds to acquire all needed land or to develop the land or to a sustained professional staff. Moreover, Auroville is really involved with developing the area within and near the town, and not just the town itself.

    Several days later, while on my trip in the midwestern part of the U.S., I was eating dinner and reading the most recent issue of Equals One. I was impressed by a curious and most significant dichotomy:

    On one hand, there is the city envisioned of Equals One; one which is very carefully planned in great detail. A city based on and utilizing the most modern of technologies. This is very much the town conceived by Roger and his group of architects and planners. It is the one presented by Roger in his preliminary concept for Auroville.

    I was impressed for example with the definiteness with which the writers of Equals One state on page 17, “all the residents will be connected with the most modern means of communication (walkie-talkie, videophone, closed circuit television, etc). These, do not constitute luxury items but the nervous system of the society”. It struck me that may be the Aurovilians, as they begin to live the life of Auroville, won’t want this type of open intrusion into their selves.

    Then I read further on page 17, “No child will be obliged to live with his own family. He may choose second or third families dividing his week or month or year among them”. I was impressed that this manner of child rearing implies very much concerning the sophistication of the residents of Auroville and their personal life styles and values. It also has implications on the housing and design of Auroville.

    I asked myself, is a city planned in such careful detail – physical and social – necessary for the goals of Auroville? Is the city of Roger’s preliminary concept necessary to achieve these goals?
    Continuing further from the same page of Equals One, I read “this society Sri Aurobindo has called “human unity” but one may also call it a planetary or laser society. One thing is certain: it represents a state of consciousness which cannot be obtained by external rules or even by a single great inner leap. It will be the result of a common, conscious and voluntary experience, a total education which will be synonymous of evolution itself. The community gathered up into Auroville would generate the education of change that way of learning which is conscious transformation.

    Auroville will not be a society organized by powers external to itself, with a money economy, administrative regulations, or a constitution. It will be based on a power inherent in each human being, but not rarely activated: the power to fulfil oneself within this society not against others, but with others.”

    Perhaps, I asked myself, a “place of unending education, of constant progress…” should also be a place that evolves, as an expression of the developing people who live there.
    The three sets of thoughts support one another. My resulting thoughts Suresh and Harish are these, simply stated: Auroville should not be planned all at once. It should be allowed to evolve, expressing the people. And in this evolution, adopt what technology, what physical forms, and what facilities it wants to express the life-style that evolves in the living experiment.

    Thus, though I may have been in too much of a hurry to develop Auroville in say 5 to 10 years, and too much oriented to western development approaches, I feel that at least some in Auroville have been too much concerned with determining the complete nature and physical form of Auroville. We are both of us wrong.

    Consider the following. Instead of preparing and following a town plan or master plan for development, we establish an adaptive development strategy. The basic elements of this adaptive development strategy are that annually, at least, and semi-annually if possible, a committee of Aurovilians carry out a planning and re-planning activity along the following lines:
    Goals – set by the people of Auroville. What do we want? How do we want to live? What is important to us? What do we want to express?

    Current Status – assessment of where Auroville is with respect to its goals.

    Next step objectives (5 years horizon) – what does Auroville want to do next? From where we are, what will maximize our overall goals achievement – what projects? What facilities? What activities?

    Possibilities – what options are realistically open? What funds are available? What projects have been offered – UNESCO, Madras, India, private organizations? What talents are available in Auroville?

    Action Program – from the possibilities, selects those that are to be pursued within the ability of Auroville (funds, people, land, etc) to best achieve the next step objectives.

    Action Plan – expresses the 5-year program in development plans: physical structures, infrastructure, social program, etc.

    This planning process is adaptive in that every 6 months or so the goals are re-examined, as is the assessment of current status. Next step objectives are periodically, re-assessed, etc.
    Several observations concerning this approach; (1) this provides structure for development without having a rigid plan. As I said before, I am not sure that one can plan, nor should one plan Auroville. Auroville should be an expression of Auroville. (2) To be consistent with the evolutionary nature of Auroville, expressing Auroville, this structure for development should be worked out in Auroville by Aurovilians. It cannot be prepared for Auroville in Los Angeles. (3) Professional competence (civil engineering, transport, planning, etc) will be needed to assist in expressing the goals and objectives in physical structures and other elements of an action program. But the planning is an expression of Auroville and not that of a “planning organisation” or of a “development organisation”. (4) This approach does not deny the development of Auroville as a system, but it expresses the system of Auroville in an evolving, dynamic manner. (5) this approach is consistent with the current economic reality of Auroville. That is, it does not require all-at-once acquisition of land or financing of infrastructure development. It does not require that Auroville go now to outside sources of funding or know exactly what development is to occur over time as a basis of acquiring outside funding.

    I should point out that this approach provides all the opportunity in the world for Auroville not to happen. It provides opportunity for responsibilities to be avoided and for things to be put off. However, to my mind, it provides the only possible approach to the development of a true Auroville.

    Thus, I feel we should find some way to allow Auroville to develop as an expression of itself… We must provide mechanisms that will assure the movement of this development.

    I can conceive of the current organizational structure implementing the development strategy. In fact, this approach in many ways parallels what is currently happening. But I feel that there must be definite organizational steps taken and planned to implement such a development strategy approach. That is, though it is to evolve, I think that the planning of Auroville should not be left to chances or to loose discussions. It must be made a matter of purposeful thought and purposeful expression.

    So, my friends, my current thinking lies somewhere between the need for hard planning and sequence development, sought by some there and certainly posed in my previous letters and suggestions to you, and the rather loosely structured, but largely unproductive approach that appears to have occurred in the 18 months or so since our Paris meeting. Now, I feel that Auroville should not be planned nor should it be scheduled, at least not beyond the next step objectives as seen at that time. But, on the other hand, I realise that to leave everything to happen as an expression, means that for most part nothing will happen.

    I have given some thought, but not too much, to the steps to implement such an adaptive development approach – a structure for planning is needed as is an organizational mechanism. But I hesitate to even express them. For once one accepts the adaptive strategy approach, and accepts this as a means for Auroville to express itself in physical and political and social form, then one must leave the particularization of this approach to Auroville. That is, I think the working outs of details of the approach should be done in Auroville by Aurovilians.

    I have considered some of the development consequences of this approach. That is, are we looking toward incompatible land uses? Will we have adequate water, sewers and powers to meet the needs of Auroville? Will the university and industry ever really come to be? I feel, that we can look towards the integrated development of Auroville with encouragement. Perhaps some mistakes will be made, but we can guard against major mistakes by annually or semi-annually expressing the goals and next-step plan in a general land-use plan. One that assures land-use compatibility while identifying the land that must be acquired next (hopefully at controlled rate with the cooperation of the Madras State). Moreover, careful expression of the near-term objectives will show the need for infrastructure and other town elements. And, these would become the town needs – the physical realities that must precede achievement of the other objectives and goals. What I am saying is that I feel we can build the appropriate engineering and other technological planning statements into the expression of Auroville on an incremental basis.

    Well, my friends, there is much more than I can say concerning both the suggested approach and my reasons for proposing it. You must have sensed that I am excited by the concepts – though straight forward I feel they are unique and potentially productive. But let me close at this point and wait your reactions to what I have written.

    Sidney I. Firstman
    Intercorporate Director
    for Urban Systems Analysis

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