-->AGNI celebrated its 9th anniversary this year by celebrating what it is: A network of citizen groups that comes together to raise a voice that no politics can ignore. The even was held at St. Xavier’s College. “Enforce the Rule of Law!” was the theme. Failure to do this by various authorities causes nearly all of our city’s troubles, from violation of land use regulations and poor civic services, to disappearing open spaces and deteriorating law and order. Politics and their nexus with vested interests are increasingly responsible.The keynote address was delivered by Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud while leaders of our partner organizations made brief addresses. We also considered continuing a “Pledge” program that began in Andheri on Sunday, April 6, 2008. Over 500 citizens at a Rally pledged to vote for persons who stood for the Rule of Law. News Reports of our 9th Anniversary event• 'Law must not remain on paper'• Citizens should be involved in governance• Enforce the rule of law• NGOs voice concern over rule of lawEnforce Rule of Law! Fight Mob-ocracy!
Your presence will add meaning and value to a Citizen's Meeting and Peace March on Sunday, April 6, 2008, 4.00 pm onwards . Please join citizen groups listed below at Holy Family School hall, (Nelco bus stop, Mahakali Caves Road , Andheri East). Then walk with them silently to Andheri Police Station to hand over an agreed memorandum.
The city is suffering lawlessness of a scale and frequency never known before. Issues are settled on the streets, mobs close down trade, attack citizens and spread fear. Police are often inactive or slow moving, collusion with wrongdoers is alleged. Politicians and power brokers are frequently involved – and rarely brought to book.
Despite the odds against them, a breed of fearless citizens stands up for the law of the land. Names like Navleen Kumar, S. Ganesan, Sumaira Abdulali, Suryakant Panchal, H.S. D'Lima and Vaishali Patil come to mind.
Most recently, James John, a senior and valued member of AGNI in Andheri East, had three ribs broken by persons forcibly closing shops the day Raj Thackeray was arrested. He was photographing the activity for evidence.
Citizens are stronger than mobs. On Sunday, April 6, join elected representatives, former members of the administration and police, representatives of citizen groups and the public to demand an end to the politically motivated and other lawlessness sweeping Mumbai.
Do be there on Sunday, April 6 and pass this message on to all with whom you are in touch. Mobs should not rule Mumbai. Citizens must.
D. M. Sukthankar
Vice Chairman & Managing Trustee, AGNI
Former Chief Secretary, Maharashtra
Municipal Commissioner, Mumbai
AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India) is a response to the anger and helplessness felt by ordinary people in Mumbai over their living conditions, which are worse every day. Virtually every problem can be traced to the way the city is run by its politicians and administrators. Therefore, it is the city's governance that must change. AGNI tries to bring people together to bring that about. In four years from April 1999, it has grown from a handful of persons into a network of organizations with memberships that total a few lakh people.WHAT IS AGNI?
AGNI is a voluntary movement. It is non-political and non-sectarian. It networks citizen groups so as to create the democratic "numbers" that no political system can easily ignore. It works with government agencies for transparency and accountability in them. Each organization in the AGNI network maintains its own goals, character, structure and activities. AGNI promotes communication among them and collective assertion by them vis-à-vis political and administrative authorities.
HOW IS IT RUN?• Board of Trustees - AGNI is a charitable trust managed by a Board of seven trustees. Its Chairman is Mr. B. G. Deshmukh, former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India. Its role is to manage the assets and finances of the Trust and frame broad policy.• Steering Committee - It plans and executes operations within policy framed by the Trust. It is led by the Chairman or, in his absence, the Vice-Chairman, Mr. D. M. Sukthankar, former Chief Secretary, Maharashtra. It comprises some Trustees and Ward, Media and Office Coordinators.• AGNI JAAGs - The basic field unit of AGNI in a Ward is a JAAG (Joint Area Action Group), which comprises the Ward Coordinator and Co-coordinator and volunteers representing areas or activities. JAAGs fix local priorities, raise resources, run activities and are the interactive channels between citizens, administrative set-ups and elected representatives. A "Committee of Coordinators" meets monthly.HOW DOES AGNI WORK?
The city is served by 24 municipal Wards. There is an AGNI JAAG in most of them. Centrally and through the JAAGs, citizens are empowered by the right information and helped to organise. The groups then act and dialogue with administrative and elected authorities. The emphasis is on creating and extending self-help networks.COMMUNICATIONS
AGNI's objectives and tasks require it to cast its net wide. The press, FM radio and television are employed to inspire and direct well-disposed citizens who may be potential volunteers in the cause of their neighbourhood and city. AGNI has launched a website (www.agnimumbai.org). This has been designed and is constantly updated with the help of Rediff.com, a major Internet portal with over a million registered subscribers in Mumbai alone. The website offers service and information on electoral rolls and election practice, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), police and the citizen's right to information (how to apply and where), among other things.RECOGNITION AND SUPPORT
In recognition of its work to spread awareness of, and otherwise promote, better governance in the city and to improve quality of life here, AGNI was awarded the prestigious Fr. Maschio Memorial Award for the year 2001. Other honors have come from many organisations and the media, for instance the Shramdaan Award of The Indian Architect and Builder. It was given to AGNI for "connecting and synergising forces from all over the city to address issues affecting the urban fabric of Mumbai".
True recognition, of course, lies in the rising expectations among citizens of their elected representatives and the administration as a result of AGNI activities. Citizens are today organizing themselves better and more widely. They are also less likely to suffer in silence when there is abuse of law and regulations by elected representatives and official agencies.Although AGNI came into being as recently as 1999, it is widely known in the city and has done a lot to revive hopes of a better deal for citizens.