2007 Early August Report – India, Malaysia, Singapore
Early August Report
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
My July news report evoked an avalanche of replies. I’m pleased to have that indication of concern and interest in my activities from so many friends and correspondents, but I’m sorry that it’s impossible for me to answer each message individually. I’m sure you can understand how fully committed I am given all of my travels, presentations, projects, and correspondence. There are at present close to 1,500 entries in my address book and I get on average about 50 messages a day, many of which require some kind of action or reply.
Regarding my health, I’m just about fully recovered. I’m feeling strong, and grateful for all the blessings that life brings me every day. I’ve adjusted to conditions here and have settled into a comfortable routine. The weather has moderated with the arrival of the monsoons, and except for occasional mid-day heat and humidity, it’s been rather pleasant.
Auroville is not too bad at all once you learn your way around, but that’s a big challenge for guests and newcomers to accomplish. Most of the useful information comes from other guests in conversation over meals, or from friends who are Aurovillians, if you lucky enough to have some. Being installed at New Creation community on the east end of “town” provides much greater convenience to necessities. I am within walking distance to my temporary office at Aurelec where I have access to the internet and a cafeteria that serves the best buffet lunch around. I can also walk in less than 15 minutes to the Health Center, the Travel Shop, and the Pour Tous (“For All”) distribution center, which is he closest thing they have to a supermarket. It offers a wide variety of foods and household and personal items at very reasonable prices to Aurovillians and guests who have opened an account by making a cash deposit. Even closer at hand, almost at my doorstep, is the Tamil village called Kulipalayam. The main road running through it is lined with numerous stalls and shops where one may procure fresh fruits and vegetables, clothing and sundry items. Many offer fresh cocoanuts which they will open for you one the spot and offer you a straw.
Malaysia and Singapore
My trip to Malaysia turned out to be all that I might have hoped for. It was both productive and enjoyable. My hosts were very gracious and hospitable, and the Gold Dinar Conference was both interesting and productive. I was happy with the way my presentation was received and quality of my delivery. I listened closely to the other presentations and gained a lot of new insights regarding Islamic thinking about social justice, money, and finance. Interestingly, there’s more agreement with my own ideas than I expected, with a few exceptions that I think are the result of scriptural misinterpretation. Getting to spend a few days in the comfort of a first class hotel was an extra bonus that provided a nice change and I’m sure was very helpful in completing my recovery.
The entire conference proceedings were video recorded and I hope to have links to the various presentations sometime soon. These will be posted to my blog. I made my own personal audio record of my presentation on a neat little Sony digital recorder that I procured in Shanghai, but my attempts to download the file to my computer have so far failed. The editing software the came with the recorder has menus and error messages written in Chinese characters so I’ve not yet figured out what I’m doing wrong.
The contrast between Malaysia and India is extreme. I had expected to see similar third world conditions there, but that was not the case. There are parts of Kuala Lumpur that look a bit shabby, but the city is, for the most part, clean, modern and well-functioning (except for the traffic in and around Kuala Lumpur, which can jam up tight at times). I did not see the litter and grime that is so prevalent in India. People here seem generally happy, and the quality of life appears to be high, with economic benefits well distributed throughout the population. This may be the result of the fact that the government is funded to a large extent by its ownership of commercial enterprises. Petronas, for example, is the government owned petroleum company that also owns and operates commercial real estate. Instead of being distributed to stockholders, profits are available to finance infrastructure improvement and provide broader social benefits. Direct government ownership of enterprise may not be the best model, but it is perhaps a better alternative to western monopoly capitalism that passes off as free market competition.
The Kuala Lumpur airport is clean, modern, and efficient. There are signs that proudly proclaim it to be the winner of the global award as best airport in its class (15 to 25 million passengers annually). It’s a long ride into the city but the modern expressway makes it a pleasant journey. There is also an express train that connects the airport with the KL central station. I used it on my return journey. The train is very comfortable, the ride takes 28 minutes, and costs about US $20 for a round trip ticket.
I also got to spend a couple days in Singapore as the guest of another one of my correspondents, a former physician who operates a trading business there and in KL. Singapore is even more clean, neat and orderly than KL, with a quality of life comparable to, or exceeding that of Europe and America. It’s a small city-state that thrives on finance and trade. It has some lovely botanical and shoreline parks, but the main attraction for tourists is shopping.
Back in Auroville
Back in Auroville, our team has completed the final draft of a funding proposal that will cover implementation of Phase I of our regional economic development plan. It will be submitted to various prospective funding sources this week and next.
I’m gradually probing some of the mysteries of Auroville. While much remains obscure, I’m beginning to understand how things work around here. It seems as if a major portion of the available resources and energy have gone into the building of the Matrimandir, which has been described as “the soul of Auroville.” It may be a focal point, but I don’t see how a physical structure can be the soul of a place. To my mind, the soul of a place abides in the people who inhabit it, their culture, and their relationships. Matrimandir is a large spherical structure that is faceted with concave disks made of glass that encase gold leaf. The gleaming structure and surrounding gardens are quite impressive. The interior contains a meditation chamber at the uppermost level in which I had the opportunity last year to spend an hour. It is a cool, quiet and peaceful place.
New materials have been added to my blog, Beyond Money. You’ll find under “Pages,” “New Chapters,” a document entitled, Commercial Trade Exchanges, Their Present Limitations and Potential Future. You’ll also find another page with A Model Membership Agreement for a Credit Clearing Service. These two documents are draft chapters for my forthcoming book, and, I think, are important contributions to the architecture and design of credit clearing systems.
I’ve posted again the simple illustration of credit clearing, this time with the spreadsheet shown as a graphics file. It downloads much cleaner than the excel/word file.
You’ll also find some new material on our website. There is a new post in our online Library under E. C. Riegel. It is Riegel’s Money Freedom Declaration and A Brief Statement of
The Valun Private Enterprise Money System, which is more fully expounded in his book, Private Enterprise Money, the entire text of which can be found both on our site and at http://www.newapproachtofreedom.info/pemExplanation.html. This book is “essential reading” for any student of money and exchange alternatives. The system designs that I am promoting have been greatly inspired by this book and other Riegel writings.
There’s much more to tell but I’ll not impose further upon your attention at this time. I’ll try to follow up with another report in few weeks from now.