The experience of Panchayati Raj System and village self-reliance in India has been there since ancient times, as in Uttarmerur inscriptions, in ancient villages of Tamil Nadu, decisions were taken by the Wariyam Committees, but constitutional rural autonomy started in India from the colonial period. Which developed along with the idea of Swaraj of Mahatma Gandhi.
What is the history of Panchayati Raj in India?
In British India in 1882, the then Viceroy Lord Ripon tried for local autonomy when he brought a law for this, but this experiment could not be successful.
After this, a Royal Commission was formed in 1882 and 1907 to examine the idea of local administration and the development and functioning of its institutions. This commission emphasized and recommended local autonomy, due to which laws were made for Panchayats in the United Provinces, Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Madras and Punjab in 1920.
But these laws were complicated and not clear, due to which many Indian National Congress leaders remained dissatisfied and continued to demand more rights.
What was the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi towards the development of Panchayati Raj?
Gram Swaraj has been a special term coined by Mahatma Gandhi and later developed by Vinoba Bhave, which promotes the transformation of every village into a self-efficient autonomous unit where all the systems and facilities for a dignified life are available.
Gandhiji believed that village swaraj would become the path of self-government and self-development with continuous efforts towards independence and self-reliance and it was right. Gram Swaraj or village self-government is decentralized, human centered and non-exploitative. It follows a simple rural economy and works towards achieving self-reliance.
Panchayati Raj Efforts After Independence
The first attempt after independence which was a step towards Panchayati Raj system was the establishment of the Ministry of Community Development under which the Community Development Program was started in 1952. After this, the National Extension Service was started on October 2, 1953, which was unsuccessful.
Who was the Minister of Community Development Ministry?
S.K.Day was made the first minister of the Ministry of Community Development.
How did the community development program start?
An agreement was signed between India and the United States of America in 1952, under which the Ford Foundation of America accepted financial assistance for comprehensive development and rural development in India.
This rural development scheme is known as “Community Development Scheme” and the work on this scheme was started on 2 October 1952, the date of birth of Mahatma Gandhi.
Earlier a pilot scheme was started in Etawah and Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) in 1948, the results of which were quite positive. It was this result that inspired the design of the Community Development Program.
What was the Community Development Program?
Under this, inclusive development of rural areas was to be done. On 2 October 1952, 55 development blocks were created. Treating each block as a unit, it was brought under a government official whose job was to try to develop by connecting with the rural common.
But in this, no special rights were given to the rural people and the responsibility of all development was put on the government policies and officials. It failed due to lack of awareness and not making the general public a direct participant.
Where was the first law made regarding Panchayati Raj system?
Rajasthan was the first state to introduce the Panchayat system in India after independence, but the Panchayat Raj system was first adopted by the State of Bihar through the Bihar Panchayat Raj Act of 1947. Later the Panchayati Raj system was implemented by Rajasthan in Nagaur district on 2 October 1959.
From which part of the Constitution was the Panchayati Raj system formed?
During the making of the Constitution of India, in the Constituent Assembly, Panchayati Raj was placed under the Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution, mainly due to the political instability of the new government and the paucity of funds and therefore It was practically not possible for the newly formed India to have a third tier of governance. Hence it could not be implemented immediately after independence.
Which committees were formed for the Panchayati Raj system?
After Indian independence, there were various committees which tried to give a proper structure to Panchayati Raj in India. These are:
Balwant Rai Mehta Committee, 1957: After the failure of the Community Development Plan and the National Extension Service, the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee was formed in 1957, which recommended the creation of a three-tier Panchayati Raj system:
- village or town panchayat
- Tehsil Panchayat
- District Panchayat
This committee suggested the formation of directly elected panchayats for the village clusters, panchayats and panchayat samitis with elected and nominated members at the block level and the Zilla Parishad at the district level.
K. Santhanam Committee, 1963: Advocated that Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) should be given the powers to levy taxes and become the main source of funding for the institution.
Ashok Mehta Committee, 1978: This committee suggested that the Panchayati Raj Institution should be a two tier body which should operate at the district level and the mandal level. The nodal area will be at the block level (taken care of by the Block Development Officer) and the Zilla Parishad will have an advisory role to both the state government and the block level body.
G.V.K. Rao Committee, 1985: This committee again advocated the three-tier system. It states that Panchayati Raj institutions should be at the district and local level. The District Development Officer (DDO) will be appointed for the chief 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 should be given a constitutional structure. As a result, the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution was made and Part IX A was incorporated as Panchayat.
Where was the Mehta committee implemented?
The recommendations of the Mehta Committee were implemented on 1 April 1958 and on the basis of these recommendations, the Panchayati Raj Act was passed by the Government of Rajasthan on 2 September 1959. Panchayati Raj was implemented in Nagaur district on 2 October 1959.
After this, Acts were passed in the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh in 1959, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in 1960, Maharashtra in 1962, Gujarat in 1963, West Bengal in 1964.
Composition of Panchayats
The essential structure of Panchayati Raj Institutions is indistinguishable from the situation in India, it is depicted through different classifications in different states. Panchayats in each state have their own characteristics. But basically in India Panchayat exists mainly at three levels. A Zilla Panchayat or Zilla Parishad is established for each area. Each district has a Zilla Parishad. Similarly, Block Panchayats or Panchayat Samitis are established for the said area.
A block may have a few towns under its jurisdiction, on the other hand Gram Panchayats are not necessarily associated with every city. Depending on the measure of population (actually, the number of voters) a village is designated under the law with a particular geological area, which may consist of a single town or a group of connecting cities.
The following are the bodies under the Panchayati Raj Institute:
Each Panchayat directly elects one/two/three persons under the Zilla Parishad (depending on the number of voters within it). The Presidents of all Block Panchayats are also ex-officio persons of Zilla Parishad. Some Express have Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) of Local/Body Voters additionally ex-officio persons.
Block Panchayat or Panchayat Samiti
Each Gram Panchayat under Block Panchayat specifically elects one/two/three persons for the Block Panchayat. The village head is the ex-officio person of the block panchayats.
A village (meaning a city or a group of towns) described under the Act is divided into at least five voting demographics (again depending on the number of voters in the village). A portion is chosen from each of these voting demographics. The body of these elected persons is known as Gram Panchayat. The size of village panchayats generally fluctuates from one state to another.
In West Bengal, Kerala and similar states, a gram panchayat has an average of about 20000 persons, while in many different states it is around 3000.
What is Gram Sabha?
Each elector consisting of persons of the Gram Panchayat is known as Gram Sabha. In some states it is called ward sabha/palli sabha etc. In West Bengal it is called Gram Sansad (Municipal Parliament). The Gram Sabha has an alternative significance in West Bengal. Here each voter of the Gram Panchayat as a whole constitutes the Gram Sabha.
Who can be a member of Gram Sabha?
The valid voters of the Panchayat (who are above 18 years of age and whose name is in the voter list) are the members of the Gram Sabha, unless they have been stopped by any law.
What is the function of Gram Sabha?
Under the Constitution, there can be mainly only three levels of Panchayat. Gram Sabha is not a tier of the Panchayati Raj structure. It has no official capacity and works as a suggestion body.
Gram Sabhas usually hold meetings 2 to 4 times each year, although they may meet as and when required. The issues to be discussed in meetings may be far-reaching. However, Annual Action Plan and Budget, Annual Accounts and Annual Report of the GP, for various social administration programs (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, various pension schemes, village The Gram Sabha can make important recommendations regarding the planning of the annual plan for the development programs of the Panchayat (such as MGNREGA), identifiable evidence for planning, audit reports, checking the performance of the Gram Panchayat, etc.
73rd Constitutional Amendment was on the recommendation of which committee?
It came into force on the recommendation of the Thungan Committee formed in 1988.
Is it necessary to have three-tier Panchayati Raj in every state?
Under the constitutional provisions, it is mandatory to have three-tier in the states where the population is 20 lakhs or more. But if there is a working population due to this, the Panchayati Raj system will be implemented at two levels.
What are the features of Panchayati Raj System ?
- The Panchayati (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 was brought to extend Panchayati Raj Institutions into Scheduled and Tribal Areas under Schedule V Areas of the States. It also recognizes the control of Panchayati Raj institutions over the natural resources of the region.
- The Panchayati Raj Institution should be a 3 tier body for a state with a population of more than 20 lakhs, so as to achieve some uniformity in structure in the country.
- Elections to the Panchayats are held every 5 years and the elections are conducted by the State Election Commission under the supervision of the State Election Commissioner.
- Provides reservation for women and SC/ST for effective participation
- In so far as financial matters and other allied matters relating to Panchayats are concerned, there is a provision for the constitution of a State Finance Commission to make recommendations to the State Government.
- Establishment of District Planning Committee.