Originating from the Indian subcontinent, The Panchayati raj is basically a political system, effective mainly in some east Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh 250 CE period. This is considered as the oldest system of Indian local Government. We all know that the word’ Raj’ is connected with the word raja means “rule” and Panchayat means “the assembly of five people”. Traditionally Panchayat is the assembly of five wise and respected elders of a village who are selected by the local community to settle disputes between individuals as well as villages.
There is a leader of this Panchayat who often leads the team called ‘Mukhiya or Sarpanch or Pradhan’. It is believed that mukhiya who is elected by the villagers cannot make any mistake. The modern Panchayat raj of India is totally different from the traditional one. At the same time, it is an extra-constitutional caste Panchayat. Still, the Panchayat Raj is still found in some parts of Northern India.
Panchayat raj is advocated by Mahatma Gandhi as the foundation of the political system of India. Gandhiji described this system as a form of decentralization of government where each village would be responsible for its own affairs.
However, there are significant differences between the current process and ancient Panchayat Raj introduced by Gandhiji. The system has been redesigned through the decentralization of several administrative activities since 1992. The Panchayat Raj was first adopted by the Nagaur District of Rajasthan on 2nd Oct in the year of 1959. After that one by one states of India started adopting this system. Panchayat Raj Institutions now acts as an important part of a government where the gram Panchayat works as a basic unit.
The system has categorized Is basic three levels:
1. Gram Panchayat (Village Level)
2. Block Samiti / Panchayat Samiti / Mandal Parishad (Block Level)
3. Zila Parishad (District Level)
Since 2010, April 24 is celebrated as The National Panchayat Raj Day all over India.
The topic which is discussed on Gram Sabhas or Gram Panchayat:
- Village Development Plans for To improve the economic condition of the village
- How to get Sufficient Drinking Water
- How to make the sanitization process
- Most advantageous utilization of the funds available with PRIs
- To make the women self-independent and use them for rural development
Composition of Panchayat
Established in accordance with the 73rd Amendment, the Panchayat is a three-tier structure system that is based on direct elections. These three tiers are Village, Block, and District. The small states India having 20 lakhs population are given the freedom to work as middle-level Panchayats. All members of the Panchayat are elected by direct election. But with the consent of the state, the members of the Parliament and State Legislature might be selected to represent the middle-level and district level Panchayats. This middle-level Panchayat is recognized as Panchayat Samiti. Gram Panchayat chairpersons may be included in the Gram Panchayat at the block and district levels.
Term of a Panchayat
The amendment provides for the uninterrupted existence of the Panchayat. The term of the Panchayat is normally five years; the system is dissolved before its expiration, the further election needs to be held within six months. The Panchayat election is controlled by the State Election Commission. The State Election Commission has a Proper Provision for Supervision, direction, and Preparation of Voter List, which handles all matters.
Powers and Responsibilities of Panchayat
The State Legislatures can give important powers and authority to become the Panchayat into a self-government institution at its early stage.
Responsibilities might be given to the Panchayat are
- To prepare a perfect plan for economic development as well as social justice.
- Preparing a Schemes for economic development and social justice where 29 significant matters need to be mentioned in XI schedules like the development of primary and secondary education, agricultural development, proper development for health, the arrangement of sufficient amount of drinking water, development of proper sanitization process, social forestry, rural housing, the welfare and development of weaker sections, and many
Structure of Panchayat Raj
Panchayat Samiti is recognized as a middle tier of the Panchayat Raj which is the main connection of Gram Panchayat and a Zila Parishad. The populations of the Samiti are the main strength of the Samiti and some effective members can be elected for the seat of Sarpanch or pradhan.
Most of the Sarpanch is usually ex-officio members of this Samiti. And it is true that all Sarpanch is not from Panchayat Samiti. The members of Panchayat Samiti are elected by an annual rotation process and it varies state to state.
Zila Parishad is recognized as a district Panchayat and this is considered as the uppermost tier of this system. Some of the directly elected members control the whole system whose numbers vary from State to State. This is based on the population of the area. Known as Adhyaksha, the president or chairperson of the Parishad is selected by the election of the population of the area and also the elected members. And the vice-chairperson is also selected in a similar way. Many important things related to the development of the area are discussed in the Zila Parishad meetings, which are conducted once in a month. Every Panchayat Raj Institutions can perform such types of functions which are specified in Panchayat raj related state laws. Some states differentiate between compulsory and optional functions while other States do not make any type of difference. This differentiation is not compulsory; this is totally optional depending on the state law.