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Essay on “Panchayati Raj” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Panchayati Raj

Synopsis:    Panchayat system is best suited to our rural needs and administration.  It is a right step towards devaluation and decentralization of power.  It deserves all help and encouragement as it is a truly representative and democratic system. As a fit and effective instrument of self-governance, it is matchless.  Now, Panchayati Raj institutions are there in almost all the Indian States with three tier arrangement at village, block and district levels.  There are nearly 2020 lakh Gram Panchayats, 5.5 thousand Panchayat Samitis and 371 Zila Parishads.  They have helped a lot in removing socio-economic disparities, among the rural masses.  They have also helped in the empowerment of women, backward, poor and down-trodden classes of the rural society.  Still these institutions need many reforms and more empowerment to be really effective.  Panchayats assume a very vital role because about 80 percent of Indian population lives in villages.

          Panchayats Raj institutions are democratic and so best suited to rural population in Indian to take care of their local problems.  It is a system of local self-government run by a council or Panchayat elected democratically by the local people.  It provides the necessary administrative apparatus for the planning and execution of rural development schemes.  It is very inexpensive system to identify and solve local problems of the rural population.  It provides a platform where people  can assemble, identify problems and aims at decentralization of power.  Decentralization and devolution of powers is at the root of Panchayati raj.

          Panchayati Raj is nothing new to India and its history dates back to hoary past.  It was a integral part of self-contained and self-sufficient rural planning, execution and administration.  A Panchayat consisted of 5 or more public representative selected or elected by the people. A panch or members of the council could be removed if people wanted it.  The Panchayat worked under a Sarpancha who presided over its meetings and deliberations.  They were fully responsible for the administration and development of a village or a group of villages.  The Panchayat administered justice, punished the offenders and decided the disputes and looked after the welfare of the people.  The Panchayat also looked after the rest-houses, temples wells, ponds, irrigation system and schools.

          The re-introduction of Panchayat system is in perfect harmony with our spirit of democracy and the aspirations of the rural public.  In order to strengthen democracy, it is imperative that Panchayat system in the country is given all possible help and encouragement.  It effectively participation, decentralization, transparency, accountability and fairness in the affairs of the villages.  The 64th Constitution Amendment Bill of May 15, 1989 gave a new lease of life to Panchayati Raj as a truly representative system in India.  During the debate on the subject then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi told the Lok Sabha, “Too often in past Panchayati Raj has had functions without finances, responsibilities without authority, duties without the means for carrying them to make these rural legislatures or councils a fit and effective instrument of self-government”.  The Bill also made it obligatory that elections be held regularly every five year, but the various states have failed to fulfil this obligation and so the Centre had to intervene.

          Now, Panchayati Raj institutions are there in almost all states and union territories though with variations in structural pattern.  It involves a three-tier arrangement—village level, block level and district level.  Panchayat Samiti and the third tier as Zila Parishad.  The tenure of Panchayati Raj institutions ranges from 3 to 5 years.  These institutions are generally responsible for promotion of agriculture, rural industries, maintaining common grazing grounds, village roads, tanks, wells, sanitation and execution of the other socio-economic programmes.  In some places, they also provide for IRDD (Integrated Rural Development Programme) and execution of other rural programmes like JRY (Jawahar Rojgar Yogana). There are about 2020 lakh Gram Panchayats, 5.5 thousand Panchayat Samitis and 371 Zila Parishads.

          The 73rd Constitution Act, 1992 has further strengthened these institutions of democracy at village levels.  Because of these institutions awareness about their rights and privileges among the poor, the scheduled castes and tribes has been building up and they are coming forward to challenge and remove existing socio-economic disparities and injustices.  Many of the gram Panchayats have their Pradhans from scheduled castes, tribes and women-folk.  These institutions have generated a fruitful interaction and cooperation between the people of the upper castes and the people of the backward and lower castes.  Panchayati Raj institutions have definitely helped in the empowerment of women, the weak, the poor and the downtrodden to some extent.  And in many cases the poor and socially weak candidates have successfully won against their rich, resourceful and influential candidates because of their integrity, character, dedication to service and commitment to genuine social and economic change.  But it never means that Panchayats are today totally free from the dominance of beginning, an emergence of new awareness and leadership. However, the resistance to these changes is evident in the elections not being held in stipulated time in many states.

          Panchayats must ensure transparency, fairness and accountability.  They should     aim at quick resolution of disputes and fair distribution of surplus land among the landless villagers.  More and more persons like women, schedule tribes and castes, marginal farmers and landless labourers should be involved in the process.  The Panchayats should be properly empowered to raise their funds to meet their development expenses.  The 10th Finance Commission has separately earmarked over Rs.4,000 crores for development programme through the panchayats.  The panchas and sar-panchas should be trained and their access to information be improved so that they can take firm, quick and right decisions as to what was good for their villages.  In order to reduce central control further, more emphasis should be laid on grassroot initiatives. Both the centre and the State should ensure flow of proper funds to these institutions for their effective working and success.  These institutions of democracy at grassroot levels cannot be economical, viable and self-sufficient unless adequate resources are at their disposal, and generous grants-in-aid are given.

          The reservation of seats, for women, scheduled castes and tribes in Panchayats is a welcome step for it will make them really democratic, representative and balanced.  The Panchayati Raj institutions assume a very vital role because 80 percent of the country’s population lives in villages spread over about 95 percent of its geographical area.  It is cynical to think that panchayats cannot govern and administer.  They should be given more powers and resources so that they can function more effectively.  The panchayats alone can introduce democracy at grassroot  levels in an appreciable and effective way.  There is no other alternative.  Only panchayats can fruitfully tackle the specific problems of the area but for this they need functional autonomy in the true sense of the term.  It is wrong to think that Panchayat institutions posed a threat to the power structure in this states. They would rather strengthen the state-structure and so there should be more and genuine devolvement and decentralization of powers and sources.

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