Need to Strengthen Panchayati Raj System

Synopsis: There is a need to strengthen the Panchayati raj system to make the participation of the people in governance a reality.

Evolution of Panchayati Raj System
  • First, during the Ancient period, the Cholas pioneered the formation of local bodies to oversee the implementation of State plans.
  • Second, during the British period, in 1884, the Madras Local Boards Act was passed. After that, unions in both small towns and big cities were formed to ensure better administration.
  • Third, gram panchayat laws were enacted in 1920. It allowed people over 25 years of age the right to vote and choose their panchayat members.
  • Fourth, Gandhiji was one of the pioneers to emphasise the importance of local bodies. He stressed the importance of autonomously ruled villages.
    • He quoted that, “The voice of the people is the voice of god; The voice of the Panchayat is the voice of the people,”
  • Finally, only in 1992, after the 73rd and 74th Amendments, local bodies were given constitutional recognition. This provided many positive changes such as,
      • Powers to grama Sabha,
      • Reservation for the downtrodden and women,
      • Consistency in economic development,
      • Mandatory local body elections once in five years,
      • Formation of the State Election Commission, Finance Commission,
  • However, the Panchayati raj is not being given due importance by the state administration which is affecting the participation of the people in governance.
Case Study: Apathy towards Panchayati raj in Tamilnadu
  • It is mandatory that Gram Sabhas should meet at least four times in a year, according to the rules framed by the Tamil Nadu government.
  • Also, as per the constitution 73rd amendment, local body elections must be conducted once in a five years.
  • Further, Gram sabhas are empowered to take opinions and the consensus of the people on significant issues.
  • However, in Tamilnadu these mandatory norms are being violated. For instance,
      1. One, holding of elections to local bodies is being postponed by the government by giving irrelevant excuses. For the first time, in the last 25 years, local body elections were not held.
      2. Two, consensus of the people on significant issues such as an eight-lane highway project and hydrocarbon project are not being taken.
      3. Third, lack of women’s representation in major administrative roles in the local bodies.
        Read Also -Local Self Government -ForumIAS Blog 

        Way forward: Need to strengthen our Gram Sabhas by
  • Proper allocation of funds,
  • Ensuring the efficiency of administration by making eligible appointments,
  • Ensuring decent remuneration to Panchayat chiefs and councilors
  • Giving powers to Gram Sabha to revoke appointed members and representatives.

The demand for federal rule in the Centre and autonomous rule in the States should resonate along with the need to have autonomous local bodies too. A peoples’ movement can ensure the strengthening of Panchayati Raj.

Source: The Hindu

Print Friendly and PDF