Panchayati Raj and Democratic Decentralization

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Panchayati Raj and Democratic Decentralization


Although the existence of Panchayat system is in India since ancient times, but as an institution based on definite and clear meaning, purpose, budget, authority, organization, rules, the existence of Panchayats as in independent India was never there in the past. The method of resolving retrieval disputes on the basis of arbitration and arbitration has been going on in the country since ancient times. Panch decisions were accepted with respect in the society.

One of the inherent functions of the social belief of Panch Parmeshwar was that an ordinary person became extraordinary as soon as he attained Pach, detached from the dignity established by the society of Parameshwara. Due to which he did not allow simple human weaknesses to come down in the discharge of his duty as Panch. In the modern era, the jurisdiction of Panchayats has become very wide. Its form has become more and more formal and legal.

Panchayat is the most important institution of democratic governance and social system in India. Along with the performance of judicial powers and functions, many other and more important functions are in the hands of the Praj Panchayats. The determination and implementation of policy and rules, from taxation in their jurisdiction, and tax collection and general administration to social and economic development of the people, rests with the Praj Panchayats. During the national movement, the leaders thought of reviving the basic institutions in the post-independent Indian government and social system in a modern style. But in the original draft of Indian society prepared after independence, there was no mention of Panchayats. The chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution, Dr. Ambedkar was They did not consider the Panchayati government system useful below the national and provincial level. He feared that the Panchayats at the lower level would become a puppet in the hands of the powerful, rather than becoming an effective instrument of social justice, administration and economic development, as an instrument of social antagonism and exploitation and as a center of political arena.

Mahatma Gandhi’s view was opposite to that of Ambedkar. Gandhi believed that until democracy was not taken to lakhs of villages of India through Panchayats, neither the common man would be able to participate in the governance and development works nor democracy would be established in the real Indian society. In his era, Gandhi used to represent the Indian public and democracy, as a result of whose pressure a provision was made under the Directive Principles of the Constitution or that the State Governments should take necessary steps for the formation of Panchayats in their area so that they function as units of self-government. can do Accordingly, by January 1957, panchayat laws were passed in almost all the states and within a few months, more than 70 percent villages in India had panchayats.

Panchayati Raj is a system of governance based on the principle of democratic decentralization in which the power and governance session at various levels is in the hands of the representatives of the people. In the broad sense, the Panchayati Raj system represents a five-tier system of democratic government, whereas in the limited sense it is a three-tier system of self-government. The end points of the five-tier system are villages and centres, while the three-tier system has villages and districts.

On the basis of the recommendations of the Balwant Rao Mehta Committee (1959), the three-tier Panchayati system was implemented with the aim of increasing the cooperation and participation of the people in the national reconstruction and development works almost all over the country. Although panchayats are formed in all the states at the village level through direct elections, there has been a slight variation in the formation of panchayats at the block (somewhere in the taluk) and at the district level in different states.

The basic element of Panchayati Raj system is that the process of planning for development should be started from the village. Villagers should be made partners in development works so that rural development and community development organizations and programs can become public programs and not government undertakings and programs.

The main objectives of Panchayati State in the Third Five Year Plan were as follows: (a) Increase in agricultural production. (b) Development of village industry. ES (c) Progress in the formation of co-operative institutions. (d) optimum utilization of local manpower, resources and physical and economic resources. (e) Distribution of power and importance of voluntary organizations. (f) To increase mutual cooperation and encourage self-reliance in the rural community.




Organization of Panchayati Raj Institutions


In the direction of democratic decentralization, under the three-tier system of Panchayati Raj, now Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat and Nyaya Panchayat at the village level, Panchayat Samiti at the block level and Zila Parishad at the district level have been established in the state. . At the village level – Under the Panchayati Raj system, the village panchayat is the most important unit. There is very little variation in their form in different states and the organization of village panchayats to a large extent, since 1961, village panchayats have been divided into three main units for the development of the village, which is related to the nature of the village system prevalent in Uttar Pradesh.


Gram Sabha
Gram Panchayat, and
It is called Nyaya Panchayat.


This department, though seemingly separate from above, is practically complementary to each other. The organization and working of these three departments can be explained as follows. .


Gram Sabha – Initially, a Sabha was formed in every rural area with a population of one thousand, but in the second election of Panchayats, it was realized that the type of village-sabha is not more useful for the common man. As a result, under the new system, if the population of a village is at least 250, then a village-sabha can be established there. If the population of a village is less than this, a Gram Sabha is established by joining more than one village. In such a situation, it is necessary to take care that these villages are not located at a much distance from each other and there is no river, drain or other similar natural obstacle between them.

Membership of the Gram Sabha is voluntary. Every man and woman of 21 years of age can be a member of Gram Sabha but no such person can be a member of Gram Sabha who is leper, lunatic, bankrupt or punished. Two general meetings of the Gram Sabha are held in a year – one after the Kharif crop is harvested and the other after the Rabi crop. In the first meeting, the budget for the whole year is placed before the village assembly, while in the second meeting the income-expenditure accounts are scrutinized. These meetings are presided over by the Chairman or ‘Pradhan’ of the Gram Sabha. According to the new amendments, the head of the village assembly is elected by secret ballot system and his term is 5 years. However, a motion of no-confidence can also be passed by votes against him. The real authority of the Panchayat is the consent of the Gram Sabha. This is the reason that the Gram Sabha is seen as the most important unit at the village level of the Panchayati Raj system.


Gram Panchayat Every Gram Sabha has an executive body which we call as Gram Panchayat. The head of the Gram Sabha is also the head of the Gram Panchayat. The members of the Gram Panchayat are determined on the basis of the number of members of each Gram Sabha. All these members are elected by the members of the Gram Sabha. Later all the members of the village panchayat elect the deputy head of the village panchayat. Prior to 1961, the election of the head of the Gram Panchayat was done by direct voting system, but from 1977, the election of Pradhan and Up-Pradhan has been done through secret ballot system. Like the head, the tenure of the Vice-President is also 5 years. In the last general election, 6, 62, 725 members of the Gram Panchayat were elected, out of which 3, 59, 600 members were elected unopposed.

This situation explains to a great extent the fact that the influence of party politics in the elections of village panchayats is less than that of other elections today. The number of members in each Gram Panchayat can be understood on the basis of the following table. Population of the village Number of members of the village panchayat 1. ol 2 per population up to 500 . On a population of 500 to 1000. 11 on the population from 1000 to 2000 4 . On the population from 2000 to 3000 – Reservation of posts is also done for persons belonging to Scheduled Castes as members of 15 Gram Panchayats for a population of more than 53000. The proportion of the population of Scheduled Caste people in a village assembly area is determined in proportion to the number of members of the Gram Panchayat. Village Panchayats are the most important means of implementation of development programs at the village level. Not only a fund is created by the Panchayats for the development programs themselves, but special grants are also provided to these Panchayats by the Government.


Nyaya Panchayat Nyaya Panchayat is the third main institution related to this organization at the village level, whose function is to provide cheap justice to the villagers by settling the rural disputes on the local basis. Generally, a Nyaya Panchayat is formed consisting of 8 to 12 Gram Panchayats. How many Gram Sabhas are there in each Nyaya Panchayat? First of all, Panch from each such Gram Sabha is nominated by the District Magistrate. Even after this, if the area or meetings of a Nyaya Panchayat are included, then the number of members of the Nyaya Panchayat was kept 15 instead of 12, so that all the Panches can be divided into three benches of 5 – 5 Panches. This means that the number of members of the Nyaya Panchayat is determined in such a way that all the Panches can be divided into five members’ benches.

As determined by the District Magistrate within a month after the nomination of the Panchayats of the Nyaya Panchayat



mportance of village panchayats in public welfare There is a lack of public welfare work in rural areas. The standard of health is very low everywhere. There are special problems in the villages like filth, infectious diseases, lack of clean drinking water, lack of healthy entertainment and inconvenience of transportation. Panchayats have proved to be helpful in rural reconstruction by doing the following important works in the public sector.


Improvement in public health – All the problems which lead to the degradation of the standard of health can be solved only with the help of village panchayat. By this the necessary information of rural life is kept and necessary facilities are mobilized for the people in the field of health.


Treatment of diseases – This work can be done more easily by the Gram Panchayats. Most diseases are contagious. It is necessary to take immediate action as soon as they spread. Being a local organization, this work can be done by the Gram Panchayats very soon.


Management of Sanitation – Most of the villagers are generally not very aware of cleanliness due to lack of education. As a result, their health status remains low. The village panchayats not only appeal to the villagers for cleanliness but also train them in making drains and making covered compost pits. Due to the relationship of village-panchayats with all the villagers, this work is also done easily.


Helpful in the development of transport – One of the main reasons for the backwardness of rural life is the lack of means of transport. Village-Panchayats make up for this shortfall by repairing roads, arranging lighting and constructing new roads. The Government of Rajasthan has now given more priority to the Gram Panchayats for the creation of permanent community assets in the villages under the ‘Food for Work Programme’. Now village-panchayats can get the work done themselves costing up to five thousand rupees. Earlier, village panchayats could implement schemes only with an expenditure of up to two thousand rupees.


Arrangement of clean water – Most of the diseases in the village arise as a result of drinking dirty water. Panchayats make arrangements for drinking water by putting red medicine in the dogs of the village, keeping the ponds clean and keeping the waterfalls safe. This saves the villagers from many diseases.


Management of entertainment – Entertainment is of utmost importance in rural life. Kareena Sah Only a little entertainment can infuse new enthusiasm and power among the villagers. Village-Panchayats, by arranging for fairs, exhibitions, lighting programs and sports, sponsoring movies with the help of the officer, provide entertainment facilities to the villagers with the help of welfare officers. Help in natural calamities – Famine persists in the life of the villagers. Due to their limited resources, the villagers always face the threat of epidemics. At the time of his own natural calamities, he is not able to help the villagers alone.


Village-Panchayats encourage them in various ways to keep them in times of natural calamities. And to keep their morale high, they know the importance of village panchayats in various economic life, they also do important work of improving the Dhar condition in the primary condition of the villagers by doing the following work


The development of industries, the development of industries is the most important way to improve the rural life, although the economic condition of the villagers can be greatly improved by developing the best practices of agriculture. Village-Panchayats help in setting up small scale industries on the basis of cooperation and also try to give information about new small and cottage industries to the villagers.


Improvement in the breed of animals – The importance of passions in rural life is basic, but Indian cattle are the worst in the world even though their breed is the largest. Village Panchayats do important work of improving the breed of animals by establishing new centers and protecting them from many diseases.


Irrigation Facilities The agriculture of our country is still dependent on rain to a large extent. Village Panchayats provide maximum irrigation facilities by constructing and repairing public wells, ponds and irrigation drains.


Help of landless laborers – In Indian villages in Graz, lakhs of farmers work only as laborers on the land. Village-Panchayats, by making proper management of all the land, can arrange to distribute some of the land among such mardurs who do not have any land of their own and who have to remain idle for more than half of the year. The Prashok Mehta Committee, constituted to make the Panchayati Raj system effective, has given special emphasis on the suggestion that efforts should be made at the Gram Panchayat level for the proper development of the landless farmers and weaker sections in the villages.




Importance of Panchayats in political life The contribution of village panchayats in the direction of rural leadership is accepted by all individuals. Panchayats perform these functions in many ways. for example –

(a) by explaining the meaning of voting to the villagers,

(b) by acquainting them with their important role in democracy,

(c) by giving citizenship education,

(d) by introducing ways to contribute to governance,

(f) by giving cheap and speedy justice to the villagers and

(g) By giving training to solve their own problems, village panchayats have encouraged healthy rural leadership. From the Panchayati Raj organization, Gramiga learns to take interest in political life, as well as learn how they should use their vote in the era of democracy.

On the basis of his study, Bhatnagar has clarified the fact that due to the Panchayati Raj system, the changes in the rural society have started becoming apparent since the last decade. There has now been enough awareness among the villagers, as a result of which the political dominance of the traditional elite has reduced. The villagers have also become conscious of their franchise and power. In areas where earlier traditional leadership was established without elections, now it has become necessary to have elections. Panchayats have also done important work in the political field by settling cases and local disputes. It is from the functioning of village panchayats that the villagers learn the basic principles of governance and by staying in these organizations, they acquire the necessary qualifications for democracy. In fact, the Panchayati Raj organization, despite being a socio-political system, organizes the entire village as a joint family. The head of the village assembly is like the karta of the joint family, which provides equal opportunities for development to all the members.


General Operation of Panchayati Raj Institutions – An Evaluation


There have been many studies related to the functioning and achievements of these institutions in the last few years, the main ones are as follows – A study conducted by Inamdar in Maharashtra shows that it takes time for the Panchayat to attain maturity and most of the Panchayats Its nature is democratic and ceremonial.

A study by Iqbal Narayan and Mathur in Rajasthan reveals that Shakti groups are playing an important role in Panchayati Raj Institutions. It has also been concluded from this study that the Gram Sabha is yet to emerge as an effective forum for constructive criticism of the functioning of the Panchayat. It was also found that there was a lack of enthusiasm among the people towards the Gram Sabha.

This type of conclusion has been drawn by Inamdar and Panchanandikar and Panchanandikar on the basis of their studies. On the basis of his study done in Andhra Pradesh, Eshwar Rao has told that the establishment of Panchayati Raj has changed the social system of the villages. Now people have started participating in the development works and there has been a change in the power structure. NS . s . Evaluating the effects of Khanna’s Panchayati Raj. It has been told that now the rural people have started speaking more about their problems, they have started giving more emphasis regarding their demands and have started criticizing about the shortcomings of the administration and the failures related to the implementation of the programmes. Based on the study of two districts of Punjab, B. s . Khanna has told that educated and prudent leadership has contributed in maintaining good relations between officials and non-government people. People are getting more and more interested in development work and political parties are also very keen to expand their work in rural areas. The Panchayat Samitis near Dehli are mostly controlled by influential people.

Problems of Panchayati Raj 




There are many such problems related to Panchayati Raj Institutions which hinder their successful functioning. Till these issues are not resolved by studying them in the right perspective, the work of rural reconstruction through these institutions will remain incomplete.

Some of the problems of Panchayati Raj are as follows


Tension is found between the government and non-official members of Panchayati Raj. Government officials who were very powerful earlier, still do not want to give up power in the changed circumstances. While there is enthusiasm among the non-government workers due to the attainment of power and responsibility, there is dissatisfaction and indifference towards the work among the government officials due to the decrease in their administrative power. The preconceptions of both these types of people towards each other have hindered the work of rural reconstruction. They have doubts and trust in each other.


Another problem related to Panchayati Raj is the lack of financial resources. It has been seen that in relation to the implementation of the schemes for which funds are received from the state government, there is interest in the public and lack of interest towards the rest, as well as the institutions related to Panchayati Raj from local resources. Not completely successful in the purpose of raising funds. The Panchayats and Panchayat Samitis are afraid of levying taxes due to the fear of public opposition. In such a situation, they have to depend only on the money received by the government. The result is that the pace of development remains slow, adequate resources have not been provided to the Panchayat Samitis to conduct the works. Their taxing power is also very limited.


Majority of the elected leaders of Panchayati Raj Institutions are generally received by the people. These are often associated with their traditional gotras, kinsmen and joint families. . Get the support of your caste. They are often able to win elections on the basis of the extensive ties of their traditional families. Such a situation remains the litigant and radical changes cannot be expected from them. Who has told that after the disappearance of the traditional Panchayats, there has been development of non-industrial groups. You encourage such groups to name ‘factions’ – partisanship. Politics in the elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions

Partisanship in rural areas has also taken place due to the participation of parties. As a result, conflicts of one caste with another are found, and even opposing pots are seen in one caste. Such stressful environment in rural community life hinders the successful functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions. It is seen in many ways that the members of these institutions get engaged in fulfilling the interests of the people belonging to their caste, gotra, family, friend-group and their particular political party and the goal of all-round development of the villages remains incomplete.


It is also seen that in rural areas, many qualified persons do not like to handle the responsibility of the post of Panch, Sarpanch, Pradhan or President due to party politics. Even after taking membership of these institutions, there is a lack of interest in their work in many people. The influence of capable and dedicated people is also a hindrance in the functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions. Some members make these institutions the medium of husband for their personal interests. The result is that public dislike of such institutions arises.


Under the Panchayati Raj system, no effort has been made to make the Gram Sabha powerful. The mere arrangement of its meetings once or twice a year cannot generate public interest and readiness for public cooperation towards various development programs. As a result, public cooperation could not be obtained as per expectations in the schemes related to rural reconstruction.


The kind of coordination that has been arranged in different workers at the development block level, that type of arrangement has not been made in the district level workers. The result was that the district level officers of various development departments do not coordinate their work under any Panchayati Raj Institution. Also, the head of the Zilla Parishad formed at the district level or the president does not have any control over the employees at the district level. In such a situation, the task of bringing rapid changes in rural areas and bringing changes in development works and accelerating development works remains incomplete.





Tips for succe/ Solutions for Success 


The Ashok Mehta Committee in its report has evaluated the Panchayati Raj system on the basis of three stages of its development – first, the state of dominance which existed from 1959 to 1964; Second, a state of inactivity or stagnation that occurred from 1965 to 1967: Third, a state of decline that lasted from 1969 to 1977. From studying these three stages of Panchayati Raj system, it is clear that the history of Panchayati Raj system from 1959 to 1977 has been a history of ups and downs.

In the initial stage the work of Panchayati Raj was very satisfactory, in the second stage it became a marketable institution while in the third stage it started declining.


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