Confer Auroville ‘University for Peace’ status: Prof Swaminathan at lecture of Mr Joss Brooks

Appeal comes on eve of Auroville’s 52nd birthday

Chennai, February 27, 2020: The greening of Pitchandikulam, Nadukuppam, Adyar Poonga and Siruseri were shared through evocative pictures to a rapt audience at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation today. From dust and drylands to forests, Mr Joss Brooks, restoration ecologist highlighted several success stories of helping rejuvenate land.

“If what has been done in Siruseri is replicated several times, it will solve the problems of Chennai, it is as simple as that,” he said, sharing details of how the lake restoration initiative took shape. However, he cautioned that it is the community that is key and which needs to monitor all activities closely. “It is the community that should meet and decide how they would restrict buildings etc. not an outside authority; that is a sustainable model. We have another chance to make a difference and we should try.”

Speaking on the occasion, Prof M S Swaminathan, Founder MSSRF, applauded the unique approach of Auroville. “This is the concept of human unity, unity with plants and unity with nature. Just as there was a United Nations University for Peace established in Costa Rica, Auroville should be declared a ‘University for Peace with Nature’. Especially in a situation where we are seeing increasing discord and disharmony, this is the need of the hour,” he said. 

Mr Brooks who describes himself as ‘an old gardener from Auroville’, elaborated on the various community-driven initiatives, that basically helped restore what had already been there, without introducing anything new. “A great example is how, in 2015 when Chennai was flooded, no water left the Auroville plateau. It was a sponge.”

Dr G N Hariharan, Executive Director (in-charge), MSSRF, recalled the visits made by MSSRF scientists to the Pitchandikulam forest both for the Vacation Training Program as well as to understand more about the eco-restoration process. He emphasized the importance of biodiversity restoration, besides environment education and awareness.

This talk re-emphasized that Auroville is not just a place, but a ‘gesture’. The call to declare it a ‘University for Peace’ therefore is timely coming as it does on the eve of the 52nd birthday of Auroville.