Report of the visit of the Visiting Committee to the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research at Auroville.
1.1. Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) has been recognised since 1984 under the scheme of financial assistance to the All India Institutions of Higher Learning by the Department of Higher Education. This Scheme is meant to support and develop innovative and pioneering institutions, which are not affiliated to any university. The Scheme admits institutions of higher education or educational research. SAIIER has been receiving annual grants (recurring and non-recurring) to the tune of Rs.20-30 lakhs, and has to its credit innovative experiments of educational research in education for integral development of personality, value-oriented education and education for international understanding, peace and human unity.
1.2. In March 2001, SAIIER submitted to the Department of Higher Education a Development Proposal, which presented a wide vision and envisaged the development of seven Faculties, namely:
1.3. The Proposal also included the development of an Apex Body in the form of a Centre of International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU) which would aim at convergence for researchers within SAIIER and around the world who are engaged in the theme of human unity.
1.4. In order that the proposal is evaluated, the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development directed that a Visiting Committee, headed by Professor G.C. Pande, and consisting of the following, should visit the Institute, assess its activities and needs for development, and present its recommendations:
1.5. The Visiting Committee paid a visit to SAIIER from September 25 to September 28, 2001, and made a study of the Institute in all its varied aspects and on the basis of its existing services and its potentialities, evaluated the working of the Institute and its Development Proposal.
1.6. The Visiting Committee held discussions with the Chairman of the Auroville Foundation and the members of the Management Committee of the SAIIER, and it also interacted with a number of researchers engaged in the tasks of the educational research of the Institute.
2.1. The Visiting Committee received a warm welcome on arrival on September 25, at Matrimandir, which has been declared by the Mother to be the soul of Aurvoille. Literature on this beautiful unique Hall of Peace and Inner Meditation was presented and expounded. We found that the Matrimandir is a universal meeting place of sadhana, vidya and kala, and we felt elevated by spending some time in the inner chamber, which is unique in its design, concept and atmosphere. It is a world-renowned architectural marvel and thousands of visitors visit this sanctuary of peace daily from different parts of the country and the world. For SAIIER, it provides a perennial inspiration to researchers, teachers and students for inner discovery and for learning by practising and for the growth of integral personality and spirit of human unity.
2.2. The same evening, we visited the Central Hall of the Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity (SWACHU), where we were introduced to a large number of Pioneers of Auroville and leading personalities who have offered for ever their life and work to the development of Auroville and of its various activities of research.
2.3. The historical development of Auroville was presented in respect of three main aspects:
2.4. We are appending in the Annexure-I, the text of the Charter of Auroville, and it would be seen that its fundamental aim is to conduct and promote a comprehensive research in the realisations of the past so as to open the gates for the future realisations, and to establish an actual embodiment of human unity. The objectives of continuing education and youth that never ages constitute the main thread of constant inspiration for the research activities. “A Dream”, the title of the text written by the Mother is at Annexure-II; it lays down, in brief, Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the coming of the New Spiritual Age, beyond all dogmas and creeds.
2.5. We were also given a brief account by one of the Researchers as to how efforts are being made to organise a New Economy, a New Organisation and a New Entry System, so as to give shape to the vision where money is no more the sovereign lord and where relationships of competition and strife are replaced by those of emulation to reach higher ideals and of mutuality, cooperation and discipline, involved in the pursuit of Truth.
2.6. We were also happy to receive the texts of Resolutions adopted by UNESCO on Auroville (Annexure-III ), and a statement of various prestigious awards which have been received on account of important researches which have made impact in various fields of national and international importance (Annexure – IV ).
2.7. Finally, a slide show was presented to us which centred on important landmarks of the developments of Auroville and its research activities, as also on the Master Plan, which has recently been approved by the Government of India. Important messages from the Minister of Human Resource Development and Minister of Urban Development on the subject of the Master Plan were also presented to us (Annexure – V ).
2.8. During the course of the above presentation, Gen. Ashok Chatterjee (formerly Lt. General of the Indian Army), who is the Director of the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research, expounded how the entire setting of Auroville provides a fitting environment and also the required personnel in the form of researchers, educationists, thinkers, philosophers, scientists, sociologists and specialists in the fields of architecture, arts, crafts, and technologies. He pointed out that since the basic thrust of the work of SAIIER is research in human unity, and since the research is not merely theoretical but also practical and experimental, educational researchers, teachers and students represent nearly 40 nationalities, and there is a natural motivation among them to carry out various themes of educational research undertaken by SAIIER.
2.9. He also pointed out that SAIIER was established in 1984 at the instance of the International Advisory Council of Auroville, consisting of the-then Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. M’Bow, the-then Minister of Culture of the Government of Bulgaria, Mrs. Ludmila Zhivkova, the-then Union Minister of External Affairs, Shri Narasimha Rao, and Bharat Ratna Shri J.R.D. Tata. He also added that the-then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, had studied the proposal and extended her support, particularly because SAIIER was to be dedicated to the memory of Sri Aurobindo, and it was envisaged to grow into a world-class Institute.
2.10. We were also gratified to note that there is here a wide awareness and a sense of gratefulness that the Indian Government has given its support and that Tamil Nadu has been chosen as a site for setting up Auroville. Statements were made to us on the significance of Auroville for India and for Tamil Nadu. We also found that a number of activities were directed to the development of the entire bioregion surrounding Auroville and services are being rendered to villagers and village students through organised services of Village Action.
3.1. On 26th September, our first meeting was held at Super School, in the Faculty of Education for Human Unity. This was a major meeting with a large number of Professors, researchers and teachers of the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research. A comprehensive statement on research programme of SAIIER was presented. It was pointed out that the SAIIER is an advanced Centre of educational research, which has three major thrusts:
3.2. Dr. Kireet Joshi, Chairman of the Auroville Foundation, explained in detail how these three thrusts are being fulfilled through the existing activities of the Institute and how the new initiatives are required to be undertaken in order to bring out its full potentialities. He also gave a detailed exposition of the concept of human unity, which is the guiding ideal of the Institute’s research work.
3.3. In this connection, he also referred to the ideals of UNESCO and UNESCO’s two major International Reports, namely, “Learning To Be” and “Learning: Treasure Within”, and pointed out how SAIIER has incorporated in its work the recommendations of these two Reports and has even gone beyond to bring upon the task the impress of the ancient Indian ideal of the whole world as one family (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). He expounded Sri Aurobindo’s vision of human unity, which underlines the distinction between uniformity and unity and which favours unity as against uniformity, decentralisation against centralisation, and freedom against regimentation. While explaining the theme of research in education for integral development of personality, he pointed out that integration should be distinguished from juxtaposition, and that in the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, integration of human personality can be effected only under the guidance of the psychic and spiritual being. In this context, he also expounded the concept of “angushtha matram”, the inner entity described in the Kathopanishad, which is to be discovered in the inmost depths of the heart of the human being. He explained that this inner entity has been named by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as psychic entity, and that the educational research of SAIIER lays a great emphasis on enabling students and teachers to discover the psychic entity by the help of which, the human body, life and mind can be integrated and perfected. In this connection, he also referred to Sri Aurobindo’s concept of fourfold personality, the basic ideas of which are being found in the ancient system of Vedic knowledge, particularly in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig Veda.
3.4. At this stage, Dr. Joshi also presented written statements on “Concept of Human Unity”, “Concept of Integral Education” and “Educational Research in Development of Integral Personality”.
3.5. Next, there were detailed statements also on education for value-orientation, and several professors of the Institute expounded the details of the present stage of research work and future progress of research. We were particularly struck by the striking concepts developed by this Institute relating to:
(a) Last School; (b) After School -- I, II, and III; (c) Super School; (d) No School.
3.6. It was pointed out that the guiding principle of educational research is that all life is education and that when life is fully organised, every aspect provides to each student the right stimulus and appropriate teaching-learning material required for the student’s growth and development at any given stage of educational experience. That being the aim, it was explained, schooling process should give way gradually to reaching a stage where no schooling is needed, since all the necessary educational experience is gained from the educational environment and atmosphere of the total life organised around the students and the teachers.
3.7. On this subject, a brief note was presented by Ms. Deepti, one of the Professors of the Institute.
3.8. Apart from the experiments being conducted at different levels, a special programme of experiment is also being conducted at the Kindergarten level. This experiment was expounded by Mr. Sanjeev Agrawal, who is the Chief Executive of the Institute, and who is also a researcher engaged in education of the children of the Kindergarten level. He explained the various stages of experiment, as a result of which a new kind of Kindergarten school has been created as a model at the Institute. In his brief exposition, he explained the concept of the psychic being and how a special environment has been created where the values of Truth, Beauty and Goodness vibrate and get transmitted in the daily activities and games of the children. He also expounded the concept of activity corners, where various kinds of articles and objects are carefully arranged and which serve as a stimulus to the children, who are allowed to have free play, with occasional help of the guides who remain in the surroundings. He also explained that the children belong to different parts of India and also to different parts of the world, and right from the beginning children are exposed to international environment and that four languages are particularly promoted, namely, Sanskrit, Tamil, French and English, besides, the mother tongue of every child.
3.9. In another exposition, which was made by Professor Donald, an experimental syllabus was explained, which has been developed by the Institute with regard to value-oriented education. This innovative syllabus struck us as a very important contribution of the Institute to the framing of a curriculum for value-education from classes I to XII. It is general and flexible, and it can be adapted in any school programme, according to specific needs. It can also be a model for other countries. The main idea of this syllabus is to keep the theme of value-education in the centre and weave this theme in studies of languages and literature, mathematics, science, logic, philosophy and history and biographies in an integrated manner. Emphasis is laid on exploration rather than prescription, and a set of guidelines have been provided to help the teachers as to how three instruments of teaching, — instruction, example and influence, — can be interwoven in relating them with students. Emphasis is also laid on exercises through which values can be internalised, and certain attitudes can be developed that can foster higher states of consciousness. As Sri Aurobindo has pointed out, music, art and poetry can provide the best education to the soul of the child; hence, the syllabus provides numerous inputs by which these aesthetic subjects can be used for value-oriented education.
3.10. It was evident that this syllabus was a result of great deal of research and experimentation, and it was explained to us that this syllabus is still to be supplemented by two additional syllabi, which are under preparation. These syllabi will relate to the theme of languages and history as also to the theme of the scientific understanding of the world. It would seem that when all the three syllabi will be united together, the Institute will have made a major contribution to the world of education.
3.11. We were also presented an outline of a curriculum for value-education which can be used at the tertiary level, and another curriculum of value-education which can be used in our country for purposes of training teachers.
3.12. There is also the question of preparing suitable teaching-learning materials, since a curriculum can be best applied only when relevant teaching-learning materials are prepared and these materials should be appropriate to the methods that need to be employed in value-oriented education. In fact, the question of methodology of value-oriented education has been presented by the Institute in a separate paper where the question has been discussed in detail as to whether values can ever be taught and if so what should be the specific methods of teaching values.
3.13. In regard to the question of teaching-learning materials, Mr. Alain Bernard, one of the Professors engaged in this area, presented to us two important and voluminous publications of the Institute, namely, “The Aim of Life” and “The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil”. Presentation of these two volumes was very refreshing and stimulating, considering the very high level of research involved and equally high level of expertise in writing all the teaching-learning material. Both these books avoid the method of prescriptions and adopt the method of exploration; both these books present materials from the East and the West, and both of them present materials in a chronological order leading from the ancient times to the present times. These publications are also rich in illustrations, sketches and drawings, and the selected texts are prefaced competently by suitable introductions, and at the end of the selected texts, there are explanatory notes, glossaries of difficult words, and supplementary materials which would add to the richness of understanding of the selected texts.
3.14. The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil has also been evaluated by the NCERT, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development has even recommended that this book should be made available to every teacher in the country.
3.15. The Aim of Life has also been translated into Hindi and The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil is now being translated into Hindi and would be soon under print.
3.16. Mr. Alain Bernard also presented a typescript of a third book, which is proposed to be published, and which centres on the theme of physical education and to the values of health, strength, agility, beauty and perfection of the body.
3.17. Mr. Bernard also gave a detailed exposition of a fourth book in the series which is at present under preparation. This book will be in fact a series of 85 monographs, each of about 100 pages, and they will be centred on three important values which are central to elevation of human being from his impulsive life to the life of refined culture, namely, the values of Illumination, Heroism and Harmony. A very important attempt is being made to arrive at a definition of these three very important terms, and in a note presented to us, 85 topics were presented which relate to historical personalities and even to stories and mythologies which have played a great role in shaping the higher curve of human culture.
3.18. All this was truly overwhelming, and during our interaction with the academic staff of the Institute, we expressed our appreciation and admiration of the actual work and of the work that they are proposing to develop.
3.19. During the course of this meeting, we were presented nine important notes, and they seem to us so important that we are appending them in our Report as Annexures VI-XIV. These notes are entitled:
3.20. Our next meeting on the same day was at the Faculty of Indian Culture and Human Unity, and we were impressed by the presentations, which were made by Ms. Aster Patel, Ms. Meenakshi and Ms. Anupama. There was also an exhibition of the research material produced by this Faculty, and we were impressed by the material that has been produced in connection with the theme of Indian Psychology and Integral Psychology. A comparative study between Sri Aurobindo and Bergson was also impressive. The plan of the Faculty includes development of Jnana Vijnana Kendra and Kala Kendra, which will intensify the study of the history of Indian sciences and the history of Indian art, as also a special study of Tamil heritage.
3.21. In the late afternoon we devoted considerable time to the study of the development proposal and financial requirements. The meeting was held at Bharat Nivas in the Secretariat, and we had a good opportunity of discussions with the Chairman of the Auroville Foundation as also with the Secretary of the Foundation. We also interacted with the Director of SAIIER as also with the Chief Executive and the number of others who have designed the development proposal. The discussion was incomplete, and it had to be continued the next day.
3.22. In the evening from 7.00 p.m. to 8.15 p.m. we had a very educative presentation of slides on two themes:
3.23. The quality of these slides was so great that we felt that the slide show should be presented in different parts of the country in schools and colleges and even the universities should be benefited by the presentation. The slides, voice and music are excellently made by two members of the research team, namely, Ms. Christine and Mr. Olivier, who are both French but extremely devoted to Indian culture. We were happy to learn that this slide show was already presented in various schools of Delhi, Varanasi, Bombay and in some other parts of India.
4.1. On 27th September, we began our meeting, which was confined to the financial matters, and those present included the Chairman and Members of the Visiting Committee and the Chairman and the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation. During this meeting, we made a detailed study of the development proposal and assessed the priorities and the quantum of financial assistance that could be recommended.
4.2. We also discussed the relevance of the educational research of the Institute in the context of the National Education Policy (1986), Programme of Action (1992), and international Report of UNESCO presented to the world by Delors. The evaluation process involved both academic and financial assessment, the details of which are presented in subsequent parts of the Report.
4.3. It was also felt that the recommendations of the Visiting Committee, in their financial aspects, should be made available to the Department of Higher Education at the earliest, since the proposals for the 10th Five Year Plan are being finalised in the Ministry. The Committee felt that the proposals for financial assistance to the Institute covering the 10th Five Year Plan period should get incorporated in the Ministry’s total plan. It was, therefore, felt that the Committee should adopt a Financial Resolution and transmit it to the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development under a letter to be addressed by the Chairman of the Visiting Committee.
4.4. The Committee drafted the Financial Resolution and discussed it at length. Finally, the Resolution was finalised and adopted, and since the Resolution was unanimous, it was signed by all the Members of the Visiting Committee.
4.5. The text of the Financial Resolution is presented in a subsequent part of this Report.
4.6. Immediately after the above meeting, the Visiting Committee was conducted to an exhibition and a programme of various presentations. This exhibition was organised at the “Transition” Campus of the Institute, and the exhibitions were so organised that they gave a vivid picture of the work of the experimental research in the form of educational stimuli of various Faculties, notably Faculty of Education for Human Unity, Faculty of Arts, Crafts and Technologies, Faculty of Humanity, Nature and Development, and the Faculty of Perfection of the Human Body.
4.7. First of all, there was an excellent art exhibition, where students’ paintings of high quality were on display. Next, we visited the computer laboratory, and we witnessed the speed with which students of different levels were working on studies through computers very efficiently. We were then taken to the language laboratory, which is still in an embryonic form, but where the programme of development which was expounded included activities of teaching and learning of Tamil, French, English, Spanish, German and several other Indian languages. The programme includes the development of skills of translation and rapid interpretation. The exhibition of teaching-learning material as also of books on integral education was extremely instructive and stimulating. There was also an exhibition of products of applied research in organic farming, environment and low-cost technology. Flower exhibition was completely a novel experience, since we came to learn that flowers play a great role of teaching-learning at the Institute, particularly because the Mother herself has given psychological names to hundreds of flowers which are grown in the environment and made available to students of the Institute. We were presented a book entitled “Spiritual Significance of Flowers” which is a very beautiful publication, full of insights in the form and beauty of flowers and their psychological significance. Next, we were impressed by children’s choir, and the three songs that were presented were sung with such consummate skill that only a regular practice and expert guidance could ensure such a high level of performance. A children’s dance was presented by the children of schools where extension work is carried out by the Institute.
4.8. This was followed by a video presentation on awareness through body, which was, again, extremely stimulating. The entire concept of awareness through body is itself novel and various exercises which have been developed by the Institute are truly worth spreading all over the country. There was also a multimedia presentation of performing arts, architecture and extension schools.
4.9. This programme was followed by a lunch which was shared with all the researchers, teachers and students.
4.10. In the afternoon of 27th September, the Committee paid a visit to the Faculty of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at “Savitri Bhawan”. The building, although small and in need of a very large expansion, is very beautiful and is surcharged with sublime atmosphere. It was a unique opportunity for us to witness a select exhibition of paintings that illustrate some of the lines of the Epic written by Sri Aurobindo under the title “Savitri”, which is the longest poem in English literature, and which depicts a symbol and a legend of ancient India and the Vedic quest of immortality. The Faculty possesses hundreds of such paintings, which were all sketched by the Mother herself and which were enlarged and finalised as paintings by a disciple, Huta, who had also training in painting under the direct guidance of the Mother. These paintings indicate the immense labour of research, and they also indicate the immense inspiration that they can provide to the future researchers who will undoubtedly come to study more and more widely and intensely. We also found to our happy surprise that hundreds of lines of Savitri which have been illustrated in paintings have also been recited by the Mother herself and they are available on cassettes. We also found that all these recitations are accompanied by sublime pieces of music composed by a great musician, Mr. Sunil Bhattacharya. We also had the opportunity to listen to a short record play of this music and recitation by the Mother.
4.11. We were also happy to learn that this Faculty attracts a large number of researchers from all over the world, who are in constant correspondence with the researchers of the Faculty, and who, whenever on a visit, attend the classes which are conducted at this Faculty.
4.12. We also witnessed here an exhibition of the 13 volumes of the Mother’s Agenda, which are a great source of a difficult programme of research in the theme of mutation of the human body by the penetration of the supramental consciousness in the cells of the body. A book was presented to us which contained hundreds of citations from the Agenda, which are weekly circulated amongst students, teachers and others in Auroville, in India and elsewhere.
4.13. We also witnessed an exhibition of publications of this Faculty, and we were particularly impressed by the “Vande Matram” series and by the series containing stories and legends of India. There was also an interesting book entitled “The Man who Planted Trees”, which was published in French, Tamil and Hindi.
4.14. We were also told of the video film based on the slide show entitled “Sri Aurobindo and His Dreams for the Future of Mankind”, which was shown on the Doordarshan on August 15 of this year, immediately after the broadcast of the Prime Minister from the Red Fort.
4.15. We were next taken to the Tibetan Pavilion, which is a part of the proposed international zone, where Pavilions of the different countries will be built in such a way that the study of cultures of different countries can be conducted not merely on the school benches but by practical experience by visiting and staying in the Pavilions. This Tibetan Pavilion was inaugurated by H.H. Dalai Lama, who has been helping and who has been inspiring a group of Tibetans to stay in Auroville and make contribution to the development of Auroville.
4.16. We were also presented the concepts of the American Pavilion and some other Pavilions which are soon to be developed.
4.17. Finally, Mr. Roger Anger, the Chief Architect of Auroville, presented the concept and design of the Centre of International Research in Human Unity (CIRHU), which envisages facilities for holding training programmes of teachers from India and abroad and also seminars, workshops and conferences as also exhibitions on the theme of human unity. The entire concept is very elevating and it is full of promise for the future.
4.18. We also noted that the International Zone which will create Pavilions of different cultures of the world, will be a fitting backdrop for the Faculty of East, West and Human Unity, and we were presented with the concept of Unity Pavilion which would be a part of CIRHU.
5.1. Our visit had its climax when Dr. Kireet Joshi took us to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry and accompanied us to Sri Aurobindo’s room, where we had a rarest opportunity to sit in silent meditation in the atmosphere surcharged with the living presence of Sri Aurobindo.
5.2. We also made floral offerings, when we were taken to the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
5.3. On the completion of our visit, we left Pondicherry in the afternoon of 28th September, with a feeling that we had had a privilege of a spiritual and cultural pilgrimage which will remain a memorable experience for ever.
Evaluation of the Work of SAIIER
6.1. In evaluating the work of SAIIER, we have thought it fit to consider, first, the fact that during the Freedom Struggle, some of the greatest thinkers and leaders of India gave a new vision of education, and they wanted that free India should develop new models of education appropriate to that vision. Among these leaders, Sri Aurobindo stands out as a leading light, since Sri Aurobindo himself was a great teacher and was greatly responsible for the development of the first national college (now known as Jadavpur University), when the nationalist leaders enunciated a programme of national education. It has now been forgotten but it is worth remembering that Sri Aurobindo was the first one to write an inspiring book on National Education in 1909. It defined what exactly could be called national education and how it can be implemented in India so as to replace the Macaulayan education. Unfortunately, even though India has been keen to develop a national system of education and NEP (1986) repeats this need, educationists have found it very difficult to replace the Macaulayan system of education. This is not the place to consider as to how to overcome the difficulties and how to transform our schools, colleges and universities into sanctuaries of national education, but it can safely be said that wherever innovative efforts in this direction are made, they deserve to be fully encouraged. Against this background, we find that the entire thrust of the work of SAIIER is to give a concrete shape to the ideas that Sri Aurobindo gave expression in his book “A National System of Education”. In addition, it must be mentioned that Sri Aurobindo, in his book “The Synthesis of Yoga” expounded larger formulations that aim at integral development of personality and education for the development of universal consciousness and of solidarity that comes by the voluntary practice of universal fraternity. We are happy to note that SAIIER is dedicated to the implementation of that aim, and its research is centred on education of integral development of personality and human unity.
6.2. Our evaluation of the work of SAIIER is also based upon the answers that we found to various questions relating to the relevance and significance of the work of the SAIIER in the context of the National Education Policy (NEP) (1986) and Programme of Action (POA) (1992). NEP and POA have emphasised the importance of value-education. Not only has NEP devoted one full section to this theme, but the entire NEP is inspired by the aim to foster the highest well-being of the growing generations in the country, and the relevant concerns here are those of child-centred education, education for the all-round development of personality, and attainment of excellence of character and capabilities. NEP speaks of eternal values that have been cherished as a part of national heritage, and of the need to promote the study and practice of these values.
6.3. The work of SAIIER is found by us to be in consonance with these concerns. We have also noted that in the line of the ancient Indian quest of looking upon the whole world as one family, India through the ages has constantly advocated and practised universal consciousness and worked for the world unity. India as a Member-State of UNESCO is also committed to the ideals of international understanding, peace, and human unity. UNESCO has also recently adopted the Delors’ Report entitled “Learning: The Treasure Within”, which speaks of four pillars of learning, namely, learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. Erection of these four pillars in educational institutions and transforming the consumer society into a learning society can be regarded as the overarching educational aims that UNESCO has put forward for the entire humanity. Promotion of these aims is a matter of high priority for India as also for all other Member-States.
6.4. In this context, too, SAIIER can be perceived as one of the rare institutions working centrally on the tasks of education for international understanding and, particularly, that of learning to live together.
6.5. An institute should be evaluated not only by its objectives but also by considering whether it is employing appropriate means to achieve its objectives. From this point of view, we find that the Institute is on the right track and that its work is a clear evidence of constant labour to secure the right means for the right ends. If its aim is to promote education for international understanding, peace, universal brotherhood and human unity, it has created conditions in which students and teachers are drawn from all parts of India and from more than other 30 countries of the world. This is a rare achievement, and it deserves to be continuously encouraged and supported. The aim of the Institute to promote integral education is pursued by creating facilities and by employing capabilities that cater to a sound physical education, a vibrant vital education, a robust and multisided mental education, and most importantly the deeper and integrating psychic and spiritual education. Again, we find that the researchers, teachers and students of this Institute are engaged in the task of developing both inner and outer qualities of integral development. If the Institute aims at value-oriented education, it has addressed itself to development of research teams that are engaged in developing both theory and practice of value-oriented education. It is developing new curricula of value-education at various levels of education by conducting relevant experimental research. The curricula that the Institute is developing for value-oriented education at the primary level, secondary level and tertiary level and even for teachers’ training are highly innovative and refreshing. They indicate intense labour and expert application of teaching-learning experience of a very high order. Moreover, its programme of publications in respect of value-oriented education is not only sound but also earnest, and when the series of publications which are now envisaged will be completed, the country will have a very rich treasure of resource materials from which new kinds of books will be made available to millions of students and teachers of the country. It can even be said that even the wider world will find these publications of great value in the context of the growing needs of value-education.
6.6. During our visit, we felt that the work of this Institute should be made available to larger groups of teachers in the country. We also felt that the Institute can do much more in terms of publications and in terms of undertaking training programmes, if the Institute can be expanded and facilities are provided for teachers’ training programmes. We felt that the National Council of Teacher Education should send to this Institute, under its own budget, advanced teachers of education for studying at least two of its publications, namely, “The Aim of Life” and “The Good Teacher and The Good Pupil”. Further publications which are being planned by the Institute will also provide richer material for training teachers in the country.
6.7. But this is not all. The Institute has further potentialities and they deserve to be supported. For instance, our visit to the Faculty of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, where we witnessed the exhibition on Savitri, we felt convinced that this Faculty should have a very big building where hundreds of paintings of Savitri that it possesses could be permanently exhibited, not only because they constitute a precious treasure of Indian heritage, but also because they can stimulate educational research of the highest order among teachers and students of our country and of other countries as well. If this is true only of one work of Sri Aurobindo, we have to consider the possibilities that can be developed for all the 60 works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. All of us who have tried to study Sri Aurobindo’s works like “The Life Divine”, “The Synthesis of Yoga”, “The Secret of the Veda”, “Essays on the Gita”, “The Ideal of Human Unity”, and “The Human Cycle”, realise how difficult these works are and how useful it would be if intensive research in these works is encouraged through various programmes of workshops, seminars and by means of preparing teaching-learning materials.
6.8. Similarly, the Faculty of Indian Culture and Human Unity has a great potentiality of serving the highest interest of scholarship in respect of Indian religion, Indian spirituality, Indian ethics, Indian psychology, Indian art, Indian literature, Indian sociology, and Indian polity. These subjects have remained neglected in our country, and whatever is being done is hardly adequate. Much more needs to be done, and much can be achieved by supporting this important Faculty.
6.9. In respect of the Faculty of Arts, Crafts and Technologies, we find that whereas there are here a number of artists, musicians and architects and wonderful craftsmen, there is a dire need to provide them adequate space, facilities, equipment in order to augment their capacities for output and service. A number of students from different parts of the country and even abroad flock here for guidance and study. But this Faculty does not have adequate facilities to hold classes, it has no equipped art studio, not even a small soundproof music hall, and no workshop where technologies can be imparted in any regular manner. Lack of these facilities and equipment prevent the right and full utilisation of available talents, and this deficiency needs to be remedied as soon as possible. This is true of other Faculties as well, and they too need to be developed, at least to a minimum level of efficiency and fruitful activity of educational research.
6.10. As far as the development of teachers’ training programme is concerned, there is need to have a good hostel for trainees, at least for 100 trainees, and a good guesthouse for resource persons and eminent educators of national and international level. The Institute also deserves to be supported in its programme of constructing Staff Quarters, since a number of members of its academic staff have inadequate facilities of lodgement. This is one of the urgent needs that deserves immediate support.
6.11. We are impressed by the fact that despite various handicaps, the Institute is striving to develop not only its research work but also its programme of training and extension. In particular, we are impressed by the training and extension work rendered by the Faculty of Humanity, Nature and Development, and the Faculty of Education for Human Unity. There are a number of extension schools run by SAIIER such as Aurolvazhi (Way of Grace) school, Ilaignarka school, Isaiambalam school, Tamil Ulagam Evening schools, and several other schools run by Village Action Group of SAIIER. Workshops and training classes are conducted also in regard to soil conservation, water harvesting, use of non-conventional energy, and construction techniques. Here, again, while experts are available at SAIIER, facilities required for extension work are extremely limited and they can even be considered to be poor. It is, therefore, necessary that SAIIER is assisted so as to meet its deficiencies in respect of buildings and equipment.
6.12. We acknowledge that the concept of the Centre for International Research in Human Unity is excellent, and that its development will enable countries of the world to find in India a suitable place for exchange, pooling results of their research and for initiating new programmes of research on international scale as far as the theme of human unity is concerned. Here, again, while there is a great potentiality, what is immediately needed is minimum constructed space and required equipment.
6.13. Educational research in contents and methods, in regard to three major thrusts of the Institute, is in consonance with India’s urgent needs of educational development and also of the higher causes of UNESCO. It must be admitted that the country or the world does not yet have any satisfactory curriculum which can implement and foster value-orientation, integral education, and education for human unity. As far as educational methodology is concerned, neither our country nor the world at large has gained sufficient pedagogical experience, -- let alone expertise – to be able to advocate and practise sound methods of forming the kind of character and personality that our difficult times require.
6.14. We need today illumination that ripens into wisdom, heroism that ripens into courage for peace, and harmony that ripens into play of relations that enable us to live together and to move together, -- something of the kind that the Vedic knowledge counsels in the immortal words, “samgacchadhvam sam vadadhvam sam vo manāmsi jānatām”. The alchemy by which this ripening can take place needs still to be discovered or invented, then cultivated and distilled. It can be said that SAIIER has progressed considerably in this direction, and what SAIIER has done can be rated as rather as very precious.
6.15. We were also impressed by the fact that the Institute aims at developing two additional syllabi, one for education for human unity, and another for scientific study of the world. Considering that the present syllabi of the country and the world insist too much on stuffing the mind with more and more information, it was refreshing that at this Institute a right emphasis is being laid both in their theory and educational experiments on leisurely reflection by which great ideas can be incubated in their height, width and depth.
6.16. Again, the innovations that the Institute proposes include a special emphasis on development of rational, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual faculties. The Institute proposes to foster this emphasis through laboratories, not only in regard to physics, chemistry and biology, but also a number of other subjects of humanities, particularly, psychology, philosophy, ethics and spirituality. These innovations deserve to be heartily welcomed. Laboratories are indeed powerful instruments of concentrated experimentation, reflection and personal involvement in explorations, discoveries and inventions. We feel, therefore, greatly inclined to support the Institute’s idea of developing laboratories.
6.17. Let us add that during the course of our discussions two questions were raised, which have great implications for educational research. The first question was: “What knowledge should a human being as a human being possess and develop?” The second question was: “Is there knowledge, possessing which, everything can be known?” We feel that one of the ways by which we can evaluate the work of educational research of the Institute is to measure the degree to which these questions are sought to be answered. To the first question, we find that the Institute has perhaps laid its directions clear when it has opened up to two important lines of research, namely, the line of research that explores the aim of life, and the line of research that explores what constitutes a good pupil and a good teacher. For if we reflect on this subject, we shall find that the human being qua human being, must raise at one stage or the other what exactly is the aim of life, and as Socrates maintained, the worth of human life lies in the examination of life. Similarly, every human being is both biologically and psychologically a pupil and a teacher, and no human being can ever cease to be a pupil and a teacher. Therefore, to the extent to which an individual strives to know the art and science of learning and teaching, his worth as a human being can be determined and fulfilled.
6.18. In regard to the second question, there is a claim in the Chhandogya Upanishad that there is indeed a kind of knowledge, knowing which everything can be known. At a time when the world today is getting unbearably overloaded with explosion of information, it seems worthwhile to find out ways and means by which one can master this explosion. And this mastery can come about only if one can find the key to hold in one’s possession ever-expanding horizons of information and knowledge. Sri Aurobindo has dealt with this subject in his great work “The Synthesis of Yoga”, and we feel that the Institute, in trying to work out the answers that Sri Aurobindo has given will benefit the entire educational world. We were happy to learn that a concrete effort is being made in this direction by the Institute to develop one major interdisciplinary course in Evolution and Mutation of Human Species, under which these answers will be sought to be implemented.
6.19. In the light of the above, our conclusion is that SAIIER is a powerful Centre of educational research, that the work it has done so far is extremely valuable, and the future development which has been envisaged in the development proposal, if supported by the Government of India both in terms of academic collaboration and substantial and sustained financial assistance, SAIIER will turn out to be a world-class Institute, capable of making major contributions to the contemporary educational and cultural needs of the country and even of the world.
7.1. SAIIER has been a recipient of financial assistance under the Scheme of Assistance to the Institutions of Higher Learning of All India Importance since 1984. The amount received by the Institute in 1984-85 was Rs.29,90,000/-. This amount rose to Rs.34,20,000/- in 1986-87. Thereafter, however, this amount declined and although in 1994-95, this amount was Rs.31,98,000/- it has now declined to Rs.20 lakhs in 1999-2000 and Rs.19 lakhs in 2000-2001. It was pointed out that this decline is because after the year 1991, no high-powered Visiting Committee was constituted, and there has been, therefore, no recommendation for assessing the financial requirements of the Institute. SAIIER was happy that the Government has now appointed the Visiting Committee, and they were happy to explain to us the financial position of the Institute.
7.2. Our first exercise was to study in detail the Scheme under which the Institute has been recognised and has been receiving grants so far since 1984. By applying the criteria laid down under the Scheme, we found that the Scheme is applicable to this Institute, and that the scheme should continue to apply to SAIIER and maximum assistance should be extended to it under the provisions of this Scheme. The Institute derives its inspiration from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother whose educational thought is acknowledged and admired all over the world. The Institute has been set up under a Registered Trust and it is run by its own Management Committee; it is an institute of advanced educational research; its units of experimental research have students (over 1500) from all parts of India and even from other countries; its Faculties of educational research have made valuable contributions to the educational thought and practice in the country by means of its innovative programmes of theoretical and experimental research. The Institute is neither a University nor affiliated to any University, and its work is of national and international importance. Thus, the Institute comes within the purview of the Scheme under which it has been receiving financial assistance.
7.3. We are aware that the allocations that are made to the Scheme are rather limited. We, therefore, recommend that these allocations should be enhanced adequately.
7.4. In addition, we further recommend that financial assistance may also be extended under the provision of the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988, under the relevant Section 23. This Section reads as follows:
“For the purpose of enabling the Foundation to discharge its functions under this Act, the Central Government may, after due appropriation made by Parliament by law in this behalf, pay to the Foundation, in each financial year, such sums of money as that Government considers necessary by way of grant, loan or otherwise.”
7.5. The Scheme of Financial Assistance to Institutions of Higher Learning of All-India Importance envisages assistance under two main headings:
7.6. As far as the existing services are concerned, financial assistance that may be given “will not be more than the approved deficit which may be involved.”
7.7. As far as the development programme is concerned, the “upper ceiling of the Central Government will be 100 % on non-recurring expenditure and 60 % for recurring expenditure up to the period specified.” The development programme also envisages the grant for buildings and structures to be constructed.
7.8. As far as the existing services of the Institute are concerned, the main item of expenditure relates to maintenance of the members of the teams of researchers.
7.9. The important feature here about this item of expenditure is that in consonance with the spirit of the Institute, none of researchers and teachers receives any salary. However, the Institute bears the expenditure of maintenance on a modest scale. According to the information gathered by us, the maintenance expenditure per individual was calculated at Rs.600/- p.m. in 1984. As a result of constant escalation, however, this amount has over the years risen to Rs.5,000/- per month. Considering the high level of expertise of the researchers of the Institute, this amount is only a small percentage of what they would have received elsewhere, if they were to work for salary and other perquisites. These researchers have sacrificed their careers in order to dedicate themselves to the challenging and difficult tasks of educational research at this Institute. These researchers have no scheme of pension or gratuity or any other allowances. This is an ideal situation for the kind of the work that the Institute has been conducting, and we recommend that the Government grant against existing services should meet full expenditure on account of maintenance of researchers. The total number of researchers at present are 115 full-time and 39 part-time. That means 115 x Rs.5,000/- x 12 months + 39 x Rs.2,500/- x 12 months, and the total amount comes to Rs.80,70,000/- per annum. From another point of view, we have examined the budget of the Institute for the year 2001-2002 and we find that the deficit is of the order of Rs.98.05 lakhs as against the total expenditure of Rs. 1,73,05,000/-. In this context, too, we would like to recommend that the grant be limited to the deficit to the extent of Rs.80,70,000/- per annum during the 10th Five Year Plan, and that the same can be reviewed towards the end of the 10th Five Year Plan so that adequate grant is given to meet the deficit of the Institute.
7.10. At the same time, the Visiting Committee feels that since the current allocation of the grant under the Scheme for this item is of the order of only Rs.16 lakhs per annum, it may not be easy to raise it to the extent we are recommending. In this light, the Committee recommends that the minimum grant that may be given to the Institute on account of the deficit should not be in any case less than Rs. 45 lakhs per annum during the 10th Five Year Plan.
7.11. As far as the Development Programme (Annexure-XV) of the Institute is concerned, we find that in view of the evaluation that we have carried out of the work of the Institute and in view of the potentialities of this Institute, we consider that the requests made by the Institute for the development of various Faculties as also for the Centre for International Research in Human Unity are quite justified and they appear to us to be reasonable. We have found that the capacity of the Institute to raise private donations to meet the expenditure on development programme is extremely limited. However, the Development Proposal is well-conceived and deserves to be fully supported. The proposal of the Institute is to accomplish the total development programme during the 10th Five Year Plan. However, even if the Institute can implement it (considering the expertise and capability of the Institute), we are of the view that during the 10th Five Year Plan, we should adopt a selective procedure. Accordingly, the Visiting Committee has prepared a list of prioritised items, and the total expenditure envisaged on these proposals will come to Rs.23.75 crores including Rs.1 crore specially earmarked for enhancement, enrichment and modernisation of library and its facilities which are urgently required. The Visiting Committee recommends that this expenditure should be made entirely through Government grants which would entail an annual grant for these proposals to the extent of Rs.4.75 crores from the Government. In due course, the allocations for completing the Development Proposal can be increased during the 11th Five Year Plan, after evaluation of the progress and performance of the work.
7.12. It may be remarked that institutions have the normal tendency to build buildings first and then to undertake activities; in happy contrast, however, this Institute has developed activities first, and has now, after a number of years of experimentation, come to us to ask for assistance in their need for buildings. We have witnessed that activities in this Institute have outstripped the facilities available to them in terms of buildings and equipment. During all these years since inception, the Institute has not asked for any assistance for construction of buildings, and they have managed so far with two or three small and temporary buildings. In this context, what we have selected as prioritised items signify the minimum needs, which require to be met at the earliest, and we recommend them earnestly.
7.13. We are presenting our recommendations for allocations to the Institute during the 10th Five Year Plan under the Financial Resolution adopted by the Visiting Committee, the full text of which is given below:
Financial Resolution of the Visiting Committee to the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) at Auroville (25th September to 28th September 2001)
7.13.1. After an in-depth analysis and examination of the Development Proposal submitted by the SAIIER and an on-the-spot evaluation of the work being done by the Institution at present, the Visiting Committee was of the unanimous view that both the existing services and the new initiatives deserve larger support from the Government.
7.13.4. Considering the fact that the finalisation of the full report may take some time and in view of the fact that the 10th Five Year Plan proposals are being finalised now, the Visiting Committee adopted the Financial Resolution as follows:
Financial Resolution Adopted by the Visiting Committee on 27.9.2001 at Auroville
7.13.5. The following members were present during the visit:
|Professor G.C. Pande
Indian Institute of Advanced Study
|Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian
Member, Planning Commission
|Dr. Subhash Kashyap
|Shri M. Venkateswaran
Department of Expenditure
Ministry of Finance
|Shri Champak Chatterji
Ministry of Human Resource
7.13.6. The Visiting Committee examined the proposal in the light of the “Scheme of Assistance to All India Institutions of Higher Education” under which SAIIER is getting assistance to the extent of Rs.20 lakhs per year at present. This scheme, which is applicable to SAIIER, has at present limited allocations. These allocations should be enhanced adequately and larger financial assistance extended to SAIIER. In addition, the Visiting Committee is also of the firm view that it would be appropriate to implement its recommendations under the Auroville Development Scheme, taking in view, inter alia, the provision of the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988, under Section 23.
7.13.7. The Development Proposal envisages a total budget of Rs.129.09 crores over five years. The Visiting Committee is of the view that the capacity of SAIIER to raise funds from voluntary sources is very limited. However, the proposals for development are well-conceived and deserve to be generously supported, considering the valuable educational research work that has been done so far and the immense potentialities of the Institute to serve the larger educational needs of the country as also the world which is increasingly growing aware of the necessity of value based education and education for human unity, — the fundamental thrusts of SAIIER.
7.13.8. The Committee also feels that proposals need to be prioritised and phased over a longer period of time so as to enable the Government to support the Project in a small way during the 10th Five Year Plan. The Government can increase such support later in the 11th Five Year Plan period based on further evaluation of the performance of the Institution.
7.13.9. The Visiting Committee held detailed discussions with the Chairman of Auroville Foundation and the Management Committee of SAIIER and identified the components that deserve to be implemented on priority and supported by Government through adequate financial assistance. The list of prioritised items is in the annexed statement. The total expenditure envisaged over the 10th Five Year Plan period on these proposals is Rs.23.75 crores including Rs. 1 crore specially earmarked for enhancement and modernisation of library facilities. The Visiting Committee recommends that this expenditure should be met entirely through Government grants which would entail an annual grant for these proposals to the extent of Rs.4.55 crores from the Government in addition to the 1 crore lump-sum grant for library.
7.13.10. The Visiting Committee has also noted that the Institute needs to be aided by the Government in meeting the deficit in its annual recurring expenditure on existing services. The deficit is of the order of Rs.98.05 lakhs per annum as against the total expenditure of Rs.1,73,05,000/-. The Committee recommends that a grant of Rs.45 lakhs per annum may be given to meet a part of the deficit during the 10th Five Year Plan.
7.13.11. The Visiting Committee further resolved unanimously that pending the submission of the final Report in due course, action may be taken by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on this Financial Resolution immediately before the 10th Five Year Plan proposals are finalised.
Sd/- (G.C. PANDE)
Sd/- (K. VENKATASUBRAMANIAN)
Sd/- (SUBHASH KASHYAP)
Sd/- (M. VENKATESWARAN)
Sd/- (CHAMPAK CHATTERJI)
8.1. We should like to mention that, in response to the request of the members of the Visiting Committee, the Chairman, Professor G.C. Pande, has forwarded the Financial Resolution to the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development with a view that our financial recommendations be incorporated without delay in the Ministry’s 10th Five Year Plan proposals. A copy of the letter addressed by Professor G.C. Pande to the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development is enclosed at Annexure – XVI.
8.2. We should like to record here our gratefulness to the Ministry of Human Resource Development for the opportunity given to us to visit SAIIER which provided a refreshing educational experience on account of its unique features.
8.3. We also wish to record here our appreciation and thankfulness to the Chairman of the Auroville Foundation, Dr. Kireet Joshi, for his help and advice throughout the period of our visit.
8.4. We are also thankful to Sri Bala Basakar, Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, to Shri Ashok Chatterjee, Director of SAIIER, and to all the members of the staff of SAIIER, who extended not only excellent hospitality but also provided to us ample opportunities to understand and evaluate the work of the Institute.
8.5. We should also like to record our thankfulness to Shri Roger Anger, and Smt. Jyoti Madhok who are Members of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation and who were present during our visit to Auroville, and who extended their expert assistance to our work.
9.1. Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) has been rightly recognised by the Ministry of Human of Human Resource Development as an Institution of All-India importance, engaged in innovative educational research, at higher and advanced levels.
9.2. The innovative work of the Institute relates basically to three areas, namely -
9.3. The above innovative work is being carried out in the light of the seminal ideas of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as propounded by them in the following important works:
9.4. SAIIER has been able to create and sustain the right instruments and means to achieve its objectives of education and educational research.
9.5. The Development Proposal submitted by SAIIER, which the Visiting Committee has evaluated, is soundly conceived and deserves to be supported fully by the Government.
9.6. The items prioritised by the Visiting Committee, enumerated in the Annexure to the Financial Resolution referred to in paragraph 7.13 of this Report, should be taken up by SAIIER during the 10th Five Year Plan period.
9.7. The prioritised items would require a plan outlay of Rs.23.75 crores during the 10th Plan period. This amount should be provided to SAIIER by the Ministry of Human Resource Development as a grant under the Plan.
9.8. The Scheme of Assistance to Institutions of Higher Learning of All-India importance, which is clearly applicable to SAIIER, has at present a limited outlay. It is absolutely necessary to increase the assistance to SAIIER under this Scheme not only to sustain its existing activities but also to foster its future development.
9.9. The present grant for existing services under the aforesaid Scheme is very inadequate and should be enhanced; the deficit at present is of the order of Rs.1.00 crore per annum; in the Financial Resolution passed by the Visiting Committee it has been recommended that this deficit should be met by the Government to the extent of Rs.45.00 lakhs per annum; however, it should be Government’s endeavour to meet this deficit fully in order to help SAIIER to grow in stature and realise its full potentialities.
9.10. As observed elsewhere in this report by the Visiting Committee, Section 23 of the Auroville Foundation Act 1988 specifically provides for grants by the Central Government to the Auroville Foundation to enable it to discharge its functions. The functions of the Auroville Foundation would clearly encompass the development of SAIIER; adequate budgetary support for the development of SAIIER would, therefore, be in conformity with the Statute.
9.11. SAIIER has tremendous potentialities for development. The assistance to SAIIER recommended by the Visiting Committee for the 10th Five Year Plan period can be regarded only as a small beginning. The full implementation of the Development Proposal of SAIIER would require greater assistance later on, especially during the 11th Five Year Plan period. The quantum of assistance in future may be determined after an appropriate review by the Government through a committee constituted for the purpose.
9.12. SAIIER is a powerful centre of Educational research. The work done so far is extremely valuable. The future development, which has been envisaged in the Development Proposal, deserves unstinted financial assistance by the Government in order to transform SAIIER into a world-class Institute capable of making major contributions to the contemporary educational and cultural needs of the country and of the world.