Rural Local Self government in India is known by the popular name Panchayati Raj. It has been in operation since the early years of independence. It has the responsibility to satisfy the local needs and aspirations of the people living in rural areas i.e. villages.
Establishment of Panchayati Raj in India
Organization of Panchayati Raj in India came as a revolutionary step towards rural development. The launching of Community Development Programmed on 2nd October 1953 the National Extension Service was launched. These steps were designed to secure the involvement of the rural people in the process of rural people in the process of rural development. However, the inadequate success registered by these necessitated the need for reforms, in 1954, the government of India established the Balwant Rai Mehta committee for suggesting some major reforms. In October 1957, the Balwant Rai Mehta committee submitted its report. It suggested the organization of Panchayati Raj in rural India. It was to act both as an instrument of rural local self-government as well as an agency for community development. It recommended the creation of the three tier Panchayati Raj- Panchayats at the village level, Panchayat Samitiesat the block level and Zila Parishads at the district level. The National Development council accepted the recommendations of Balwan Rai Mehta committee in 1958. The Government of India then called upon all the states to implement these recommendations. On 2nd October 1959, Rajasthan came to be the first State to establishPanchayati Raj. Thereafter, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Kerala, J & K, Himachal Pradesh and infact all states introducedPanchayati Raj in their respective areas by passing necessary laws. The whole of rural India came under Panchayati Raj. It still continues to be in operation.
Aims of Panchayati Raj
The main aim of the Panchayati Raj has been democratic decentralization, rural self – government, and rural development.Socio-economic development of rural India has been a major goal. Panchyati Raj has been designed to encourage the people of rural areas in meeting their needs locally. It develops the habit of democratic living. It strengthens the foundations of Indian Democracy. Make villages self-governing and self-reliant units. Secure a sense to self-confidence among the rural people. It acts as a system of democratic education and training and to undertake rural development by involving the rural community. To Satisfy Local needs, promote democratic living; provide political education and training, and rural development through local efforts.
Working of Panchayati Raj (1959 – 1992)
By 1959, almost all the States had introduced Panchyati Raj in their rural areas. They quite faithfully adopted the recommendations of Balwant Rai Mehta Committee. Almost all the states adopted the three-tier system. But within it some states like Maharashtra decided to assign the development functions to the Zilla Parishads and not to the Panchayat Samitis. However, other States decided to assign these functions to Panchayat Samities. During 1959-92 Panchayati Raj kepton working for achieving its objectives. However, its efforts were not fully successful. Its working brought to light several shortcomings which prevented it from becoming really successful. It virtually failed to produce a qualitative change in rural life of India. Rural Illiteracy, lack of funds, poverty, inexperienced representatives, groupies, corruption, government interferences, lack of continuity in the working of Panchyati Raj institutions and lack of interest taken by the rural people, all became responsible for an inadequate success of Panchayati Raj.
Reform of Panchayati Raj (73rd Amendment Act 1992)
For removing the defects of Panchayati Raj as well for strengthening in institutions, the Parliament passed the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992. Its purpose was to improve and strengthen Panchayati Raj. Through it a good attempt was made for securing a more regular, active and efficient working of Panchayati Raj. On April 23, 1994 all the States of India completed the process of enacting fresh laws for strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions in accordance with the rules laid down by the 73rd Amendment. Thereafter, an amended and reformed Panchayati Raj system came into existence. So After the passing of 73rd Amendment Act 1992, a reformed Panchayati Raj has been in operation in all parts of India. The enforcement of 73rd Act marked the beginning of the process of a bigger grant of power to Panchayats and other rural institutions. Now an important and strong drive towards the strengthening of the democratic development process in the rural areas of India got initiated. In the main, the 73rd Amendment Act provided for Reservation of seats for SCs and STs in proportion to their populations. Reservation of the posts of chairpersons for the SCs and STs is in state. Reservation of not less than 1/3rd of the elected seats in each Panchayat for women and reservation of 1/3rd posts of chairpersons for rural women. It also directs elections of Panchayats and chairpersons of Panchayats. It provides representation of MPs and MLAs in Panchayati Raj institution and continuous and active presence of Panchayati Raj institutions.