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Mahatma Gandhi advocated Panchayati Raj as the foundation of India’s political system, as a decentralized form of government in which each village would be responsible for its own affairs. The term for such a vision was Gram Swaraj (“village self-governance”).
The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force with effect from 24th April, 1993 has institutionalized Panchayati Raj through the village, Intermediate and District level Panchayats.
On the occassion, best performing Gram Panchayats will be conferred with Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Purskar by the Ministry.
The Ministry of Panchayati Raj was created as a separate Ministry on 27th May 2004. It has the primary objective of implementation of Part IX of the Constitution, Panchayats in Fifth Schedule Areas and District Planning Committess.
The very first Panchayati Raj Diwas was celebrated on April 24, 2010, under the aegis of the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh.
“Local Government” is mentioned in the State List under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.
Article 40 of the Indian Constitution states: “The state shall take steps to organise Village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.”
Various committees on Panchayati Raj:
- -Balwant Rai Mehta: established 1957
- -V.T.Krishnamachari : 1960
- -Santhanam Committee: 1963
- -Takhatmal Jain Study Group: 1966
- -Ashok Mehta Committee: 1977
- -G.V.K. Rao Committee: 1985
- -Dr. L.M. Singhvi Committee: 1986
- -P. K. Thoongan committee: 1988
The Panchayati Raj is divided into a three-tier structure, namely:
- Gram Panchayat (village level)
- Mandal Parishad or Block Samiti or Panchayat Samiti (block level)
- Zila Parishad (district level).
Rajasthan in 1959 became the first state in India to launch the Panchayati Raj.
(The institution of Panchayati Raj was inaugurated by Jawahar lal Nehru on October 2, 1959 in Nagaur District of Rajasthan.)
Andhra Pradesh became the second state to launch Panchayati Raj at Shadnagar near Hyderabad
The main feature of the 73rd Amendment, 1992 are as below:
- -By inserting ‘Part-IX: The Panchayat’s in the Constitution of India, the Panchayat Raj Institutions in India have become Constitutional bodies.
- -Establishment of Panchayats in every states have become mandatory under Article 243-B.
- -Provisions of mandatory devolution of powers, authority and responsibilities by the state Government to the Panchayats have been made in Article 243-G.
- -The tenures of the village Panchayats have been fixed to five years under Article 243-E.
- -Mechanism of State Election Commission has been provided to conduct Independent Election under Article 243-K.
- -Provision for giving due representation to SC/ST or Women in the Village Panchayats have been made under Article 243-D.
- -Provision to review the financial position of the Panchayats once in 5 years through State Finance Commission has been made under Article 243-I.