Practice vs. Theory: The Auroville Economy

The economy of Auroville is ran on a system pertaining to a “gift economy.” Despite having such an ideal, there is still a significant circulation of cash and monetary exchange amongst “Aurovillians.” The budget that the FAMC receives is already below what would be required for “maintenance” (or salary) and most have to have some background capital and money in order to be able to subsist (along with their family members) if they wish to live comfortably. Maintenance refers to the monthly sum which is typically enough to meet the basic needs of living in Auroville which Aurovillians receive from the commercial unit or community service they work for.  unity-fund-14-15bcc

It is considered a “risk” to invest in joining the township, for there is no private ownership of land, housing or businesses in Auroville. Aurovillians invest in land that is collectively owned. 81% of their Unity Fund budget is specified whereas the other 19% is unspecified. That is to say, less than 20% of Auroville’s budget goes to what its members believe needs funding. (more information available at http://www.auroville.org/contents/2836). There are several umbrella branches (or departments) that must report to the FAMC, such as SHIIER which deals with education and related services. Is it sustainable? Not quite at the moment. There currently exists around a 50/50 ratio of Indians and foreigners who are recognized Aurovillians. Thus, there is an application process required for someone to start a unit or project. There is a long way to go before Auroville’s economy becomes self-sufficient and sustainable, yet they are headed in the right direction toward their ideal vision of exchange.

Serene Obagi

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