Panchayati Raj System
I quote few excerpts from the NCERT book, “Social Change and Development in India”, which says “Modern Society, with its size and complexity, offers few opportunities for direct democracy. Today, the most common form of democracy is, representative democracy. There has increasingly been a feeling that democracy ought to involve people more regularly and should not just be voting every five years. Participatory democracy and decentralized governance have thus become popular”.
The enactment of 73rd constitutional amendment provided for 3rd tier of democracy called Panchayati Raj, and it is a milestone in way of achieving participatory democracy. The act has provided for Part IX of the constitution and a new schedule called Schedule 11 to the constitution. This schedule consists of 29 fucntional items.
While a lot can be read about Panchayati Raj, from various sources, I will tend to discuss the present scenario.
- District Planning Committees
- Article 243ZD
- The DPCs are required to consolidate the plans prepared by Panchayats and Municipalities in the district and to prepare the draft development plan for the entire district. While it is up to the State legislature to determine the exact composition of DPC, at least four fifth member should be elected.
- Areas not covered under Part IX
- In 5th schedule areas, panchayats have been extended through the provision of PESA Act of 1996.
Challenges of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI)
- Lack of sufficient funds, functions and functionaries
- Lack of capacity. State Institutes of Rural Development has proven ineffective in this regard.
- Shortage of manpower and infrastructure
- Central and State sector schemes tend to be implemented in silos, integrated plans at the Panchayat level are not prepared and even when these are prepared, they are not made part of the State Plans. DPCs are not active in many parts of country.
- Gram Sabhas need to be made more active and inclusive, and capacitated to undertake participatory planning
- Corruption at panchayat levels has become day to day stories. Accountability need to be strictly in place and implemented.
- PESA has been not able to empower gram sabhas and there has been multiple instances of violation of Forest Rights Acts.
Schemes/Programmes for Panchayati Raj
- Backward Region Grant Fund
- Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Yojana
(Apparently both were discontinued from centrally sponsored schemes in 2015-16 budget)
It seems it’s assumed that state will take the all the onus of budgeting for PRIs from their increased share of tax devolution. Though there removal seemed very unfair.
- 14th Finance Commission provided for outlay of 2.9 lakh crore for PRIs over 5 years.
Other Important Facts
- Many of the schemes in India, happens with participation of PRIs
- Swarn Jayanti Gramin Swarojgar Yojana
- Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana
- Land development plans
- Micro irrigation and Rain Water Harvesting
- Clean Drinking Water Program
- Solar Lamp Distribution etc.
- Role of PRI becomes very critical in social sector schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao schemes. Also, it is prime importance for PRIs to make sure that social exclusion doesn’t happen in their area, and people from all caste and creed are given opportunity in carving out plans for the village.