Panchayat Raj System

Panchayat Raj System

Democratic Decentralization:
The world “democracy” is derived from the greet roots – ‘cracy‘ meaning ‘rule of’ and ‘demos’ meaning ‘the people. It is governance of the people , by the people , for the people The emphasis is on the ‘people ‘as distinct  from ‘offer’ .Rule by majority is , no doubt , an important feature of this system  of governance ;but the more important ingredient is rule by consultation …consultation between  the people’s representatives on one hand , and consultation with hey officers on the other. It is, in essence, a pooling of the intelligence and the experience of all concerned administration.  As corollary it also implies and even enjoins on them an implicit acceptance of the decisions taken by the body of members, and a resolve to implement them.

‘Decentralization’ means devolution of central authority among local units close to the areas served .Where authority devolves by this process on people’s institutions, it is democratic decentralization. The team headed by Balwantrai Mehta (1956) recommended ‘democratic decentralization’. According to this committee to delegate the powers, responsibility and resources for planning and execution of the development programme to people’s institutions.  As per the recommendations of the committee it was aimed to secure the maximum participation of the rural people in their own development programmes.  The committee was of the opinion that one of the major reasons for the failure of the community development programme which are implemented after India’s independence was the apathy and the non-participation of the people in the developmental programme.

The study team recommended a basic pattern of democratic decentralization with the Gram panchayat (Village Council) at the village level, the Panchayat Samit at the block level and the Zilla Parishad (district council) at the district level.  The Gram panchayat is at the bottom of the Panchayat Raj System and the Zilla Parishad is at the apex.  The Panchayat Samit constitutes the middle tier of this three-tier new set up of rural administration.

The study team’s recommendations as approved by the National Development Council were communicated by the Center to the State for implementation.  In the middle of 1958 the State of Madras had started as an experimental measure a pilot block of democratic decentralization in her own way as early as 1957.  The experiences of this block were there Andhra State started in July 1958, twenty pilot blocks more or less on the same lines as recommended by the study team, one in every district of Andhra. Inspired by these experiences the State of Rajastan become the pioneer to bring the whole of Rajastan under democratic decentralization on October 2, 1959 On Nov, 1, 1959, Andhra Pradesh state introduced this scheme of democratic decentralization.  In the entire state, then it was adopted by Mysore, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Assam, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other states.  Now all the state of India has introduced the system with minor variations so as to make it suitable to their own conditions and requirements.

Panchayat Raj:

There is something anomalous and contradictory in the term “Democratic Decentralization”. It was also not easily understood by our people in India.  At the instance of the Prime Minister it was seceded to give this process of the three-tier administration a strictly Indian name “Panchayat Raj’ evolved as the natural expression that fitted admirable to the situation.  Panchayat Raj means a system of Government horizontally it is a network of village panchayat.  Vertically, it is an organic growth of the Panchayat rising up to the national level.  Panchayat Raj was accepted as the new concept because it meant administration by mutual consultation, Consent and consensus.

A three tier system of democratic decentralization recommended the system operates at the district, block and village level, as follow

District level               –                       Zilla Parishad
Block level                  –                       Panchayat Samiti
Village level                –                       Village panchayat (Gram Panchayat)

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