Several Aurovilians have been struck by the parallels between Auroville’s economic ideals and practice, and those that animate Universal Basic Income (UBI) policies and experiments, so our team decided to include a Universal Basic Income researcher among our participants at “The Bridge – Auroville 50th” to explore these. We invited Dr. Sarath Davala, the founder and President of the India Network for Basic Income (INBI), Vice-Chair of the global Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), and co-author of “Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India.”
Unbeknownst to us at the time, Sarath had already visited Auroville, and recognized such parallels as well: “For me who is researching and advocating the idea of unconditional basic income to all citizens, Auroville stands as a symbolic community that is idealistic and at the same time pragmatic in its world view… There are major intersections in Auroville’s worldview and that of what our network believes in – a vision of a more evolved man, and a more evolved human society,” he responded, eagerly accepting to join us.
During the in-depth immersion into Auroville’s socio-economy that The Bridge offered its participants, Sarath expressed his admiration for how much of what UBI activists are trying to achieve is already established in our community. Shortly after the event, we began discussing a research partnership, to include focussed socio-economic research, and participatory workshops exploring UBI and Auroville’s socio-economy. “The advantage Auroville members have is that you already have the experience with the utopia that we are grappling with… That is what makes us such exciting research partners,” he shared with us. We too recognize that further collaborations could have mutually beneficial potential: offering Auroville fresh perspectives to inform our advancement towards our socio-economic ideals, and inspiring UBI from our basis of experience.
This year, the annual congress of BIEN will be held in India for the first time: https://indiabasicincome.in/congress/, hosted by INBI under Sarath’s presidency, in Hyderabad this August 22 – 25, 2019. The congress is drawing a global cohort of Universal Basic Income activists, researchers, and policy-makers to India, and several will be visiting Auroville before and after the event. A public talk and participatory workshop are planned, to raise further awareness in Auroville about Universal Basic Income and offer us an opportunity to explore the overlaps and potential for cross-fertilisation with this progressive socio-economic policy (See Events).
A group of Aurovilians will also be attending the congress. Suryamayi, Bridge co-director and Auroville social scientist, has been invited to present, while others will participate, generously invited to do so free of charge to support this budding partnership. We look forward to sharing our insights!