Auroville: A city with a modern Barter System

Auroville, ‘The city of Dawn’, a city in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, is a beacon of hope for practices of sustainable living and communal peace and harmony. This unique town was founded in 1968 by The Mother’, Mirra Alfassa and was named after Sri Aurobindo. Even to this day, in 2023, the town generates genuine interest and curiosity in the world about its lifestyle of cashless economy.

This international community promotes and practices spiritual growth and unity and is known for its cashless economy lifestyle. Here, in this utopia like town, money takes a backseat.

Here, the lifestyle is such that, money is not the primary means of exchange; Contributions and shared resources are bartered. The town has its own currency called the ‘Auroville Unit’, (A.U.). Various groups are created that are responsible for the production and management of goods and services. The way this works is that, the residents contribute to the community by providing their skills and labour in exchange of necessary goods and services. This lifestyle promotes unity and sense of shared social responsibility.

To this day, Auroville is evolving. It’s commitment to sustainability has led to a lot of innovation and development.

    1. Auroville has invested a lot into renewable energy and resources. As a result, the town has significantly reduced it’s carbon footprint and has also become independent in terms of energy security.

    2. The town does its own farming and grows its own crops and that is what they consume. They don’t depend much on imported/exported food. To achieve this the town has been practising sustainable and organic farming since a long time. This ensures food security and healthy soil.

    3. Auroville is very much involved with research and educational programs and it specifically focuses on sustainable living, alternative healing practices and renewable technologies.

    4. Auroville has always had a flourishing artistic and cultural scene. The town hosts a variety of exhibitions, and events where artists from all around the world come together to perform. As a result, the culture and art here is free flowing, vibrant and diverse.

    5. Auroville promotes diversity and inclusivity. People from various backgrounds come here; Like-minded individuals who believe in the vision of Auroville. As a result the community here is richer, diverse and dynamic.

    6. Auroville has its own bureau for town planning and architecture. It has archival facilities, research institutions, auditoriums, 40-odd industries, restaurants, farms, and guesthouses, etc. It also has a high density of computers, and a dedicated e-mail network (auronet) for the residents.

Despite its many success, the town faces challenges ahead. Auroville faces challenges in maintaining a balance between traditional thinking and modern ideologies. Also, the constant inflow of new residents and visitors requires constant adaptation. The biggest challenge that remains is the question of how to maintain a cashless economy in an increasingly interconnected world that is also facing a lot of hostile action in recent years.

Auroville’s lifestyle of cashless economy offers valuable lessons for the world. It challenges conventional perceptions and practices of ‘working’ and motivates us to rethink about money’s role in our lives. Amid the prevalent complex global issues , will this experimental township stand strong and succeed? Well, only time will tell.

About the author,

    D. Neha

The author is an avid reader who loves exploring the inner self and is forever curious about nature and life. She is a finance graduate and is currently pursuing PGDM finance in IMT Hyderabad.

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