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Panchayati Raj
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Panchayati Raj

Dear users, today we are going to present Panchayati Raj PDF for all of you. Panchayati Raj is a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of administration. Mahatma Gandhi advocated the Panchayati Raj, a decentralized form of government. It is the oldest system of local government in the Indian sub-continent.

This system was adopted by state governments during the 1950s and 60s as laws were passed to establish panchayats in various states. It also found backing in the Indian constitution with the 73rd Amendment in 1992 to accommodate the idea.

In the history of Panchayati Raj in India, on 24th April 1993, the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act 1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. Currently, the Panchayati Raj system exists in all the states except Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and the all-Union Territories except Delhi.

Panchayati Raj PDF

  • India, primarily, is a land of villages and around 72% of the total population of India resides in rural areas. The rural areas thus form the roots of the governance in India and the democracy should start thereon. Mahatma Gandhi also said that the main element for the development and for the government should not be the big cities but rather the village because it is where India resides.
  • In India, we have a unique system for governance at the village level. The governance of such a small unit of India is by the Institutes, called the Panchayati Raj Institutions. The Panchayati Raj Institute derives its existence from the Constitution under Part IX under the head of The Panchayats. The story of Panchayat is not just a few decades old; rather it has been prevalent in India for ages.
  • In the Rigvedic period, i.e. around 1200 B.C., there were Sabha that has the primary function of the administration of the area. This concept of Sabha gradually converted to the panchayat and it was so-called because it was headed by 5 people. In the Medieval period, the Panchayati system deteriorated because of the increase in the Zamindari system in the rural areas. The task of administration slowly got converted to tax collection as a result thereof.
  • At this time also the village had a separate mechanism for its administration though the concept of Panchayati raj got deteriorated. With the change in the dynasties ruling India, the concept of Kotwal came with the Mughal era whose task was to undertake the administration of the area assigned, to collect tax and other incidental functions.
  • But the concept of Kotwal also got deteriorated with the inducement of the caste system and feudalism in India, especially after the British invention. In the British era, the Government was not in favour of any decentralization, therefore after the mutiny of 1857, they came up with the Government of India Act, of 1858 and removed the decentralization. Lord Mayo in 1870 advocated for decentralization, but it was unapproved.
  • Subsequently, Lord Rippon advocated for decentralization but the same was approved to the extent of urban areas. Then came the Royal Commission in 1907 which advocated for village panchayat but it was not accepted due to various reasons.
  • Further in the Montego Chelmsford Reforms that were carried out in 1919, right after World War, I wherein England was not in a strong position, some autonomy to the provincial government was given to the provincial government and some powers were given to the elected representatives.
  • There were two separate Lists under the laws, one for the Governor and the second for the elected local representatives. Further, under the Government of India Act, 1935 all the powers were taken back because both the lists that were legislated were repealed and therefore the decentralization was again withdrawn.
  • Meanwhile, during the formation of the Constitution of India, in the Constituent Assembly, Panchayati Raj was kept under the head of Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution mainly because of the political instability of the new government and the paucity of funds and therefore it was not practically possible for the newly formed India to have a third tier of the Governance which was right at the lowest tier in the country.

After the Indian independence, there were various committees that tried to give a proper structure to the Panchayati Raj in India. These are:

  • Balwant Rai Mehta Committee, 1957: this committee mainly advocated for the basic level of administration to be at the Block level.
  • K. Santhanam Committee, 1963: advocated that the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) be given the powers to levy tax and it should become the main source for the funding of the institution.
  • Ashok Mehta Committee, 1978: This committee suggested that the Panchayati Raj Institute shall be a two-tier body which should operate at the Zilla level and the Mandal level. The nodal area would be at the Block Level (taken care of by the Block Development Officer) and Zilla Parishad shall have an advisory role to both, the State Government and the Block level institution.
  • G.V.K. Rao Committee, 1985: this committee again advocated for a three-tier system. It said that the PRIs should be at the district and local levels. The District Development Officer (DDO) shall be appointed for the main administration of the village units.
  • L.M. Singhvi Committee, 1986: this committee advocated that in order to establish a governing body for any part of India, it must be given a Constitutional structure. As a result, 73rd Amendment was made to the Constitution and Part IX-A was inserted as The Panchayats.

Structure of The Panchayats

In spite of the fact that the essential structure of the PRIs is indistinguishable from the conditions of India, it is portrayed by means of various classifications in various states. Panchayats in each state have their own attributes and even race strategies for these establishments are at fluctuation from area to area.

A District Panchayat or Zilla Parishad is established for every region. Every district has one Zilla Parishad. Likewise, Block Panchayats or Panchayat Samitis are established for the said area.

Levels of Panchayati Raj Institutions

The 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj consists of :

  1. District Level Panchayat
  2. Block Level Panchayat
  3. Village Level Panchayat

District Level Panchayat

  • At the district level, the Panchayati raj system is called “Zila Parishad”.
  • It looks after the administration of the rural area of the district and its office is located at the district headquarters.
  • It is headed by the “District Collector” or the “District Magistrate” or the “Deputy Commissioner”.
  • The Chairman of all the Panchayat Samitis forms the members of Zila Parishad.
  • It is the link between the State Government and the Panchayat Samiti.
  • The major functions of a district-level panchayat are to provide essential services like supply of improved seeds, running schools, PHCs and hospitals, construction of bridges and roads etc.

Block Level Panchayat

  • The block-level institution is called the Panchayat Samiti.
  • Panchayat Samiti is a local government body at the tehsil or Taluka level in India.
  • It works for the villages of the Tehsil or Taluka that together are called a Development Block.
  • The Panchayat Samiti is the link between the Gram Panchayat and the district administration.
  • The Samiti is elected for 5 years and is headed by the chairman and the deputy chairman.

Village Level Panchayat

  • It is a local body working for the welfare of the village.
  • Panchayati Raj is a system of governance in which Gram Panchayat are the basic units of administration.
  • The number of members usually ranges from 7 to 31; occasionally, groups are larger, but they never have fewer than seven members.
  • The council leader is named Sarpanch in Hindi, and each of the five members is a Gram Panchayat Sadasya or Panch.
  • In such a system, each villager can voice his opinion on the governance of his village.
  • Decisions are taken without long legal procedures.

Role of Women in the Panchayati Raj System

  • Bringing women into the mainstream of development is a major concern.
  • The Constitutional (73rd) Amendment Act, 1992 provides for the reservation of selective posts for women.
  • Women members and Chairpersons of Panchayats, who are new entrants in Panchayats, have to gain the required skill which is imparted by training institutions for which financial assistance is provided by the
    Ministry of Rural Development.

Benefits Provided by the Government

There are several schemes by the Government of India that benefit people below the poverty line. Some of them are:

Indira Awaas Yojana – It provides houses free of cost to BPL SC/ST families (40%), physically & mentally challenged (3%) and non-SC/ST BPL households staying in rural areas.

Antyodaya Anna Yojana – It provides 35 kg of food grains per family at highly subsidised rates to 1.5 crore BPL families.

Annapurna Scheme – It provides 10 kg of food grains per month free of cost to BPL persons.

Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana – It provides sustainable income to rural poor and BPL families. Under
this scheme, credit-cum-subsidy is provided for self-employment, skill development, etc.

Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana – It provides a demand-driven community village infrastructure including durable assets to enable the poor to increase the opportunities for sustained employment and generation of supplementary
employment.

Redressal Forum

  • One of the most important responsibilities of the government is to redress (rectify) various grievances (complaints) of the public.
  • With the emergence of local bodies in rural and urban areas, people are largely dependent on the government.

The Objectives of the Redressal Forum

  • To offer rural citizens improved access to information on Government schemes and services.
  • Facilitating process for any grievances.
  • To enhance transparency in government functioning and offer scope for improved service delivery.

Redressal Mechanism

  • Grievance (complaint) Redressal Mechanism is a part of the machinery of any administration.
  • In fact, the grievance redressal mechanism of an organisation is the measure to determine its efficiency and effectiveness as it provides important feedback on the working of the administration.
  • Allowing citizens to register their grievances through toll-free telephone, instant SMS to field staff, and automatic FAX to the higher officials will ensure speedy corrective action. Disposal of grievance will dramatically improve.
  • Access to information backed with relevant infrastructure and services, not only allows the rural population to improve its quality of life but also adds confidence to the government deliveries.

Government Programme for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj:

1) Powers of Gram Sabha through Panchayats Act, 1996 (PESA): The Provision of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA) extends Part IX of the Constitution with certain modifications and exceptions, to the Fifth Schedule areas of 9 States viz Andhra Pradesh (AP), Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh (HP), Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.

The Gram Sabhas under PESA are deemed to be ‘competent’ to safeguard and preserve the traditions of their people, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution. The Gram Sabhas further have:

  1. Mandatory executive functions to approve plans of the Village Panchayats, identify beneficiaries for schemes and issue certificates of the utilization of funds.
  2. Right to mandatory consultation in matters of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and prospecting licenses/ mining leases for minor minerals.
  3. Power to prevent alienation of land and restore alienated land.
  4. Power to regulate and restrict the sale/ consumption of liquor.
  5. Power to manage village markets, and control money lending to STs.
  6. Ownership of minor forest produce.
  7. Power to control institutions and functionaries in all social sectors.
  8. Power to control local plans and resources for such plans including TSP, etc.

2) Panchayat Mahila Evam Yuva Shakti Abhiyan (PMEYSA): Participation of women in the Panchayats was facilitated by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment which mandated one-third reservation of seats at all three tiers of Panchayats for women. The Panchayat Mahila Evam Yuva Shakti Abhiyan aims to build on the substantial representation of women and youth in Panchayats so that they use their collective strength more effectively.

It supports the efforts of the many isolated, strengthen their unity and provides a forum for continued training. PMSA provides women with specific kinds of support which go beyond the usual training given to PRI representatives.

3) Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS): The Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) is a Central Sector Plan Scheme implemented by the MoPR from 2005-06. The scheme aims at encouraging states to adequately empower Panchayats and put in place systems for bringing about the accountability of the PRIs.

The performance of states in these respects is measured through a Devolution Index (DI). Token awards are also given to the states, which rank high on DI, for which the annual provision is currently Rs.31 crores for the year 2011-12.

4) e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP): MoPR has been adopting a multi-pronged strategy to implement the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution in the true spirit of cooperative federalism. One major strategy has been to harness the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools for e-Governance in Panchayats.

The objective is to make Panchayats more efficient, transparent and symbols of modernity by leveraging ICT at the cutting edge level to ensure transparency and accountability in their functioning through disclosure of information, social audit, efficient delivery of services and improving internal processes and management of Panchayats.

5) Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sasktikaran Abhiyan: Developing the Panchayati Raj system is essential to improve Governance and delivery of services and involves the redistribution of power, institution-building and development of processes and improving accountability to people.

RGPSA seeks to enhance the capacities and effectiveness of Panchayats and Gram Sabha and enable democratic decision-making and accountability in Panchayats and promote people’s participation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Panchayat?

Panchayat is the name of the local government system in India. Panchayat means a group of “Five Persons”. In simple words, a Panchayat is a council of elders representing a village. The Panchayat system covers the village level (Gram Panchayat), clusters of villages (block Panchayat) and the district level (District Panchayat).

What is the Panchayati Raj System?

Panchayati Raj is a form of government at the village level where each village is responsible for its own activities. The Amendment Act of 1992 contains a provision for passing the powers and responsibilities to the panchayat for the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice.

What is a Household Survey?

The Household Survey is a multi-purpose continuous survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to collect information on:

  • household and family information
  • housing tenure and household accommodation
  • consumer durables including vehicle ownership
  • employment
  • education
  • health and use of health services
  • smoking and drinking
  • family information including marriage, cohabitation and fertility
  • income
  • demographic information about household members including migration

What is the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)?

National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is conducted every 5 years by the Indian Institute of Population Studies. It provides an approximation of indicators of population, health, and nutrition by background characteristics at the national and state level.

Information is collected about households, and individual interviews are conducted with the women age group of 15-49 years and men between 15-54 years. This survey also includes height and weight measurements and blood tests for HIV and anaemia.

What is BPL List?

  • Depending on the cost of the basic needs of life, the government calculates how much money a person needs to live a decent life.
  • Those who cannot earn even that much money are said to come under the Below Poverty Line list (BPL list).
  • A BPL family is decided on the basis of score-based ranking on relative deprivations as indicated by 13 parameters – land holding, type of house, clothing, food security, sanitation, consumer durables, literacy status, labour force, means of livelihood, the status of children, type of indebtedness, reasons for migrations, etc.

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