In the article titled “On Symptoms and Questions” published on 03-05-08, I had alluded to the situation of the “Auroville Archives”. This seemed to have no effect whatsoever and Krishna, its founder and main person, remained ignored, and justifiably upset about it. Krishna also wrote to the Working Committee and to the Finances and Assets Management Committee; the latter – in a reduced form, several of its members being on “vacation” – discussed the issue in its meeting of 23-05-08, and supported Krishna’s views and the needs of the Archives, but couldn’t come to a decision on the course of action until other, perhaps more influent members, had returned.
Abha, one of Krishna’s daughters living in Auroville, is a member of the FAMC, representing commercial units; she had been present at the two only instances of interaction between Krishna and the Bharat Nivas Group, and was determined to see that the matter gets attention; but, being family, she could not insist on it. Deepti and Uma, who are also his daughters, were even more restrained, not having been present at those occasions.
I chose to write again, this time in the form of an open communication to all, devoted on the topic.
The week of 19-05-08 t0 26-05-08 was the annual week leave for the AV News and Notes, and I was not sure whether my “slot” would come for the coming issue or the one after; but I wrote to the editors, sending both the “Communication” and another, regular article, and asking them to please publish the former anyway, and the latter when they would wish.
They did, and it appeared on 31-05-08:
A communication to all, regarding the Auroville Archives:
Everyone will agree that the ‘Archives’ constitute an indispensable organ in the functioning of Auroville. It is its information bank, its history, its memory, the record of its adventure and it is, naturally, expanding. Everyone is bound to, at some point, make necessary use of it, whether in depositing into it or in consulting it.
It came into existence more than twenty years ago, was developed, guided, overseen, made solid and reliable, through the persisting efforts of one man, a senior Aurovilian, Krishna Tewari, who will soon be 86 years young.
The work of the ‘Archives’ is a most sensitive one: it requires persons who are wholly trustworthy.
We do not wish here to embarrass Krishna by listing his sterling, rare qualities, but again everyone will agree that in him Auroville has been provided with complete dedication and unconditional integrity.
This is someone who was tested and tried by the most exacting circumstances as an Army man at the service of Mother India and whose reputation, based on his deeds and conduct alone, commanded universal respect when he joined Auroville in the late 1970s. It was thus that he was asked to represent Auroville at the Supreme Court of India.
On the development of the ‘Archives’ and its discipline and guidelines he has brought to bear the standards of ethics he was trained to serve.
This is our luck as a growing community that such a man took up this task, among others, for the welfare of Auroville.
When the ‘Archives’ started, the only space that could be made available was where it is still located at present, in the back of the main Bharat Nivas building, into a corridor running from its center to its rear, without any natural light or ventilation.
Over the years this space was gradually colonized by cupboards and fitted with de-humidifier and air-conditioner devices; the two assistants were given a cubicle of sorts, while Krishna would receive everyone in his tiny office behind a flimsy partition.
In the recent years, when the new administrative centre was erected near the Matrimandir, most of the activities that had been sheltered in the Bharat Nivas were given new accommodations. This year, the Auroville Foundation’ entire operation, which occupied half of the front space, shifted to its new, grand setting, next to the new ‘Town Hall’.
No one thought it fit or decent to approach Krishna and see with him how to give the ‘Archives’ a better working space.
Krishna had earlier formulated a project for a permanent Archives building, which had moved through the various stages of approval to end on a shelf somewhere, awaiting funding.
Now, a newly formed Bharat Nivas group has elaborated remodeling plans to install a permanent exhibition on India’s contribution to the world, which is all fine and good; but this group made no effort whatsoever to see with Krishna to the needs of the ‘Archives’, till the time a new, permanent building is funded and constructed.
On the patiently insistent request of Krishna, two new members of that group revealed to him their proposal: he would be allotted another buried, narrower corridor and, as a bonus, a back room which had been used by the Auroville Foundation accountants. This was offered as if a large concession.
Krishna is no politician; he is a truth-lover. As such he gets the shabby treatment that well too often is given to those who cannot enjoy maneuvering others.
But this is precisely the point we wish to make and it leads to the request we wish to openly share with all.
Quiet dedication must be recognized and whole-heartedly supported in Auroville: we request that all efforts are made at once to support the ‘Archives’ and its team of 3 – Thambidurai, Ayappan and Krishna – in getting adequate working space in Bharat Nivas until a new building is erected for it, along with adequate infrastructure.
We request everyone to make their support known, by word or/and by donation.
Fraternally, Divakar on behalf of the Archives Team.”
(Note: I had suggested to the editors to write “on behalf of several concerned Aurovilians, but written in my name as neither they nor Y go, as a rule, for petitions”, but they chose to use this formula, without telling me about it, which perhaps was alright and simpler.)