Panchayati Raj System is a complete process of governance and it refers to a system linking people from the Gram Sabha to the Lok Sabha.
In order to grant constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions in the country and to bring about uniformity, the Parliament passed the Seventy-third Amendment Act in December 1992.
Essay on Panchayati Raj System in India
In India, about seventy per cent of the population lives in villages. So the importance of rural local self-government known as Panchayati Raj is self-evident. Panchayats have been among the oldest political institutions in India. During the pre-independence era, Gandhiji wanted to establish Panchayats in the villages. According to him, Indian independence must begin at the bottom. Panchayet “having full powers at every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its own affairs.” In 1946 during the tenure of the interim government efforts were made to understand the structural aspects of the Panchayats.
Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the Panchayati Raj System of independent India on 2nd October 1959 at Nagaur, Rajasthan. Article 40 of the Constitution of India says “the state shall take steps to organize village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.” Panchayet is generally a three-tier structure of local self-government at the village, block, and district levels.
A Panchayet consists of five or more public representatives. They are elected by the Gram Sabha by secret ballot. In Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh the mode of election is by show of hands. For the purpose of election, the Gram Sabha area is divided into territorial wards. Each ward elects one panch.
In Bihar, the Panchayet consists of nine members including President. Out of nine members four are directly elected and the other four are nominated by its President. The presiding officer of the Panchayet is called by a variety of names, such as ‘President’ ‘Sarpanch’, “Pradhan, and Mukhiya. Adhyaksh etc. There is a provision in all state legislation regarding the removal of the President. It is usually done by a majority of two-thirds votes of members of the Panchayet.
The tenure of the Panchayet varies from three to five years. Panchayati Raj System is a complete process of governance and it refers to a system linking people from the Gram Sabha to the Lok Sabha. In order to grant constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions in the country and to bring about uniformity, the Parliament passed the Seventy-third Amendment Act in December 1992. It added Part IX to the Constitution which envisages a three-tier system of Panchayats, namely the village level (Gram Sabha), the block level (Panchayat Samity), and the district level (Zilla Parishad) Panchayats.
The functions of a Panchayet are usually classified into two categories-obligatory and discretionary. Obligatory functions include the construction and maintenance of public wells, and public roads, providing proper sanitation, development of agriculture and cottage industry, registration of birth, death, and marriage, collection of house tax, etc.
The discretionary functions generally include planting and nursing of trees on the roadside, construction, and maintenance of rest houses and ‘Dharamshala’, looking after public health and safety, etc. To perform the functions Panchayats are granted money by the State Government as well as Central Government. Panchayet is also empowered to impose some compulsory taxes such as a tax on buildings, trade, private toilets, vehicles, animals, etc.
Panchayati Raj System is an integral part of our democracy. Panchayati Raj System has been successfully implemented in West Bengal. West Bengal Government took initiative in 1978 to give a new life to its Panchayats on the lines of the Ashok Mehta Committee’s recommendations.
But sometimes lack of adequate finance comes in the way of effective functioning. In absence of trained and whole-time secretaries, the Panchayats can not function properly. The lack of timely action against defaulters makes people lose faith in this institution. In some places, Panchayet themselves are working as oppressive instruments. Absence of land reforms, low level of literacy, patriarchal system, etc work against weaker sections in the village.
The State government has the power to delimit and alter its jurisdiction. It may suspend or remove a ‘Panch’ or a ‘Sarpanch’ under certain conditions. There are reservations about seats for women. S.T., S.C., and O.B.C. The Panchayat elections are conducted and supervised by Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections. All these measures ensure a bright future for Panchayati Raj System in India. Panchayati Raj System is the only way to the rapid development of villages in India.
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