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the nation as a whole can hardly come alive. When India became independent in 1947, perhaps one-third of the villages of India had traditional Panchayats and many of them were far from flourishing conditions. The congress government has made a determined effort to promote the creation of Panchayats and to make them effective units of local selfgovernment. Article 40 of the Constitution clearly declares ³The state shall take necessary actions to organize village Panchayats and to endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government´1. The aim was to foster democratic participation, to involve villagers in the development of the community and to reduce the burden of higher level of administration. Though various steps were taken by
governments to revitalize the system, Gramswaraj through village
Panchayats remained as a distant dream till 1992. Bureaucratic apathy, indifference of the people, lack of political will, lack of uniformity etc were the main factors behind the failure of the system. Realizing the potential of thePR system, Rajeev Gandhi government initiated a process of Constitutional amendment to give sanctity and uniformity to Panchayati Raj system so that it can be immune from political interference and bureaucratic indifference. Rajeev Gandhi introduced 64th Constitutional amendment Bill in 1989. But the Bill did not materialize because of the fall of his Ministry. Finally the P.V.Narasimha Rao government introduced Panchayati Raj system in India through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in 1992.
D.D.Basu, Constitution of India.
Chapter II Definition Local Self Government The functioning of a Government can be categorized into National, State and Local. Local Self- Governments are those bodies that look after the administration of a area or small community such as village, town or a city. These bodies are appointed by the Government representing the local inhabitants, which raises its revenue partially through local taxation and other means. . The Local Self- Government can be divided into various classes like Corporations, Cities, Town Municipalities and Town Panchayats on the basis of population. The administration system has 3 levels: village, block and district. Panchayats operate at the village level. The Panchayats of India are the local bodies working for the welfare of the village. It constitutes of members ranging from 7 to 31. However, it can have members more than 31 but not less than 7. Panchayat is a form of Indian political system which combines five neighbouring villages known as panch. The primary units of administration in Panchayats are the gram panchayats. The members of the Panchayat are known as "panches", who take decisions regarding the disputes among the villagers and villages. According to the Indian Constitution, Panchayats have the authority to work as organizations of self-government. Panchayats play a vital role in the administration of the rural areas of India. The Local Self Government is entitled to discharge certain compulsory functions like: Supplying safe and clean drinking water Imparting and maintaining proper drainage and sewage systems Providing public street lighting To keep up sanitation and hygiene of public places Building and maintenance of bus terminals, roads, culverts and bridges
Preservation of public parks and gardens To make sure that the urban or rural growth is systematic and planned Preparing guidelines for building construction Issuing Licenses for Trade activities Issuing and maintaining Birth and Death records Apart from these the Local Self Government can deliver some discretionary functions including educational, health, community and recreational services etc. In order to deliver the above duties, the Local Self Government have been given certain powers to earn revenues by levying certain taxes and fees. In addition to it, the State Government also transfers some of its general revenues to the Local Self Government. Their main sources of is from taxes on construction and lands, taxes levied on people for water supply, and fee from trade license. Chapter III Evolution of local self-government A brief account of the evolution of local self-government in the country has undergone through time, and the extent to which the present system represents a departure from the past. The Historical background Local self-government, to borrow a phrase from Sydney Webb, is ³as old as the hills´. This can be more true of India than any other country of the world. There is sufficient evidence to establish the fact that the institution of local self-government is almost pre-historic, and the conception of local self-government is indigenous to the Indian soil. Municipal governments have flourished in India since times immemorial. While empires rose and fell, village panchayats which formed an integral part of the national life, helped to preserve democratic traditions in social, cultural, economic and political life, survived the onslaughts of centuries of political upheavals and saved Indian society from disintegration. The existence of local bodies in ancient India is a positive proof of the inherent genius of our people to manage local affairs efficiently and on a decentralised basis. The decentralisation of power in the kingdoms of the Maurya and the Gupta period was unique. Such a devolution of power was unknown to
the western world until modern times. The local governments at different levels, performing many functions, though not very democratic, were sufficiently autonomous. Local self government under the Muslim Rule With the coming of the Muslim rule in India, local institutions received a set-back, as they did not enjoy the same autonomy and prestige, as under the Hindu kings. ³Mughal government was highly centralized autocracy. The crown was the motive power of the entire administrative machinery. Where the government is absolute, the supreme authority concentrated in one man¶s hand, the territory larger, the means of communications between the districts slow and difficult, the transfer of local officers frequent, no political life or local initiative is left to the people2. The muslim rulers recognised local chiefs and zamindars as the repositories of local authority, to the exclusion of the people. ³The villages and towns of the Mughal empire enjoyed parochial self-government rather than local autonomy. A people who do not possess political freedom and powers of self taxation for national purposes, can not be said to enjoy local autonomy´3. The office of Kotwal was developed as the keystone of the municipal administration and ³his functions in connection with the town in his charge were, at least in theory, the most comprehensive conceivable being in certain respects even wider than those of the municipal bodies of the present day´4. While the mughals did not initiate any positive measures of encouragement to local institutions, wherever such institutions existed, they worked in co-operation with the official machinery of the rulers and in certain respects became a part of it. Between the breakdown of the mughal empire and the coming of the British, there was complete anarchy and military despotism in most parts of the country. During this period ³the ties of social framework were loosened, and in many places, local institutions had been perverted or sapped, before the British officials had an opportunity to assess their value.´5
Sir Jadunath Sirkar - Mughal Administration - page 10 ibid 4 Dr. P. Sharma - The Provincial Government of the Mughals - page 232 5 H. Tinker -The Foundation of local self-government in India, Pakistan and Burma - Page 15
Local self-government during the British rule When India was colonised, there occurred a sharp break from the tradition. The state system, after the advent of the British emerged as a highly centralised set up. Local institutions during the British period were more a creation of the government from whom they derived their autonomy rather than a process of spontaneous growth. No attempts were made to build up the system on indigenous foundations, although a good deal of indigenous taxation was retained in local finance. ³The chungi of the muslim rulers, the Sikh dharat, the muhtarafa of Maratha towns have a descendant in todays¶ octroi. But from the structure and procedure of earlier local institutions, almost nothing has been incorporated into modern local government´ The form adopted during the British rule was an admixture of the British and continental patterns. The history of local self-government in India under the British rule can be conveniently divided into four phases. ³Local finance being a counterpart of local administration and its mainstay, has of course, been an expression of the purpose implicit in different phases of local government.´6The first phase may be assumed to have ended in 1882, when Lord Ripon issued his well-known resolution on local selfgovernment. The second phase covers developments from 1882 to 1919, when more powers were transferred from the centre to the provinces, and the recommendations of the Decentralisation Commission of 1907, besides discussing other matters, suggested some changes in local selfgovernment. The third phase extended upto 1935, during which the Indian Taxation Enquiry Committee (1925) considered the problems of local taxation, along with central and provincial finances. The Simon Commission of 1930, reversed the process of decentralisation, by recommending strict control of the state over local bodies. The fourth phase covers developments upto 1947. During this phase, the struggle for independence was intensified and with the introduction of provincial autonomy in 1937, and coming into power of congress ministries in many provinces, local bodies, particularly village panchayats, received a great stimulus and there was democratisation of local bodies. But ³local self-government became a mere annexe to the national political stadium, where the struggle for independence was moving towards its climax.´7
Gyan Chand -Local Finance in India - page 25 7 H. Tinker -The Foundation of local self-government in India, Pakistan and Burma - Page 161
A rapid survey of local self-government and finances in India under the British rule, reveals certain ³well marked characteristics´.8 1. Lamentable half hearted concessions to a demand for wider systems of local selfgovernment. For a long time, local government remained a democratic facade to an autocratic structure. 2. Local Finances had not the free and natural growth they had in most of the European countries. 3. Local self-government inherited but little from indigenous local institutions and their development was artificial from outside. 4. Arbitrary and haphazard nature of local taxation that emerged from the British period. 5. Non-hierarchical character of local government 6. No distinction between deliberative and executive functions 7. Local self-government acquired a political character. 8. The control exercised by the Government and its agencies was excessive. Independence opened a new Chapter in socio-economic reforms, as embodied in the Directive Principles of State Policy, enunciated in the Constitution which established a federal system of public administration, provided universal adult franchise and the objective of welfare state. Article 40 of the Constitution lays down that the state would take steps to establish autonomous bodies in the form of village panchayats. We would like to take up the discussion of the developments in the field of rural and urban local bodies in the post-independence period separately because of the distinct nature of changes introduced in the two fields. In this chapter we would concentrate our attention to the developments in respect of Panchayati raj institutions and would pick up the thread in respect of developments in respect of urban local bodies, in a separate chapter. Local self-governments- Developments in the post-independence period As already observed, village panchayats have been an integral part of village administration since times immemorial but nothing much is known about the status, structure, functions and finances of panchayats in ancient India. Although the idea of decentralised planning is as old as the Gandhian economic thought, attempts at giving a concrete shape to this thinking may be said to have been made in the post-independence period. During the constitution making
M.P. Sharma - Recent experiments in local self-government in India, Page 104
process and thereafter since the inception of planning in India, certain hard choices had to be made between the needs of national security, national unity and economic growth, on the one hand, and the consideration of achieving a measure of distributive justice, on the other, so that the benefits of development accrue to the people at the grass-root level, and also people may participate in the process of planning and development at different territorial levels. In the initial years, the choice was made in favour of rapid growth and planning and, therefore, decision-making remained centralised and vertical around the two political levels, viz. the Union and the state. Local bodies like panchayats, by and large, functioned as civic agencies of the state government and not as instruments of micro-level planning. It was during the III five year plan that a methodology of preparing state plans for rural development on the basis of district and block plans, was evolved and attempts were made to constitute three-tier system of PRIs, based on the recommendations of the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957), and with it the idea of ³planning from below´ gained some currency. But these ideas did not pick up and were not operationalized, as the PRIs, except in some states, were stagnating or declining, after the initial enthusiasm for their development. Lot of discussion had taken place in the country in respect of the need for creating multi-level planning framework which envisaged devolution of definite powers, functions and finances to different territorial levels, but no concrete steps were taken in this direction. Since the beginning of the VI five year plan, a number of special programmes for poverty alleviation, employment generation and area development were launched in the country. At this stage, block level was considered important to implement rural development programmes through fuller utilization of local resources. In November 1977, a Working Group under the Chairmanship of Prof. M.L. Dantwala was appointed by the Government of India, to draw up guidelines for block level planning. At the same time, in December, 1977, a Committee on Panchayati Raj, headed by Ashok Mehta was appointed. The Committee considered inadequacy of resources, mainly responsible for failure of PRIs and, therefore, recommended, inter alia, measures for strengthening the financial resources of PRIs. In the light of recommendations of the Committee, gradually PRIs were set up in almost all the states and were contemplated to be developed as instruments of development. Whereas in Maharashtra and Gujarat, power was vested in district panchayats, in Madhya Pradesh and some other states, the responsibility for development was entrusted to development blocks. Another committee headed by Prof. C.H. Hanumantha Rao (1984) went into the question of evolving methodology for district level planning and recommended that planning process at the district
level should be sufficiently decentralised, having a good deal of autonomy, administrative and technical capability and financial adequacy. The above discussion shows that there has been no dearth of ideas and expert opinion but what is lacking is consistency in thinking and political will to implement the concept of decentralised planning and development in a multi-level framework, and create PRIs in that framework which are democratic, autonomous, financially strong, capable of formulating and implementing plans for their respective areas and provide decentralised administration to the people. Elections were not held regularly in a large number of states. Even after three decades since the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee had recommended 3-tier Panchayati raj system as a form of rural self-government and as a mechanism for democratic decentralisation, in most of the states, the position regarding PRIs remained unsatisfactory, and no tangible action was taken to strengthen the local self-government system. Financially these bodies were weak and dependent largely on state governments which did not follow any consistent policies, with the result that most of the PRIs remained defunct or superseded. The Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992, marks a water-shed in the history of local selfgovernment in the country since it gives a constitutional mandate to the state governments to restructure and revamp rural local bodies in accordance with constitutional obligations. The Act provides for (i) the creation of three tier system of PRIs - gram panchayat at the village level, Janapad Panchayat at the block level and Zila Panchayat at the district level, with sufficient powers and functions contained in schedule XI of the Act; (ii) the creation of State Election Commission to ensure free, fair and timely elections after the expiry of every 5 years, and (iii) the creation of State Finance Commission after every 5 years to recommend devolution of financial resources from the state government to local bodies and also suggest measures for strengthening their financial position.
Chapter IV Panchayat Raj in india P.V.Narasimha Rao government introduced Panchayati Raj system in India through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in 1992. The 73rd Amendment Act has added a new Part in the constitution- Part Nine ± consisting of 16 Articles and the 11th Schedule .The functions of the Panchayati Raj institutions have been clearly spelt out in Article 243G of the Constitution, read with Article 243 ZD and the 11th Schedule. The PRIs are supposed to be genuine institutions of local selfgovernment, not adjuncts to the implementing agencies of State governments. The constitution, which describes them as institutions of local self-government, says that this [status] is [given to them] for two specific purposes: planning for economic development and social justice and implementing these plans. Moreover, it says that this process of empowering them through devolution in order to enable them to plan and implement their own programmes of neighborhood economic development and social justice will be governed by the laws of the legislatures of the States. The Constitution says in the 11th Schedule that this empowerment shall relate or could relate to the 29 subjects listed in the Schedule. Any form of Panchayati Raj that falls short of this cannot be described as genuine Panchayati Raj.9 Chapter V Features of the new Panchayati Raj system The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act envisages Gramsabha as the foundation of the PRI system to perform the functions of and powers entrusted to it by the state legislatures. The amendment provides for a three- tier PRI system at the village, intermediate and district levels. Small states with population below 20 lakh have been given the option to not to constitute the intermediate level. The Act provides that the Panchayat bodies will have an assured duration of 5 years with mandatory elections after this period. However it might be noted that under the Act the establishment of Panchayat and the devolution of necessary powers and authority on the PRIs are vested in state governments. In view of this it may be said that the success of the PRIs as a unit of democracy and thereby ushering an all round development of rural areas will much depend on the intention and support of the state governments. Without sincere intention and political will these institutions would be misused
Interview with Mani Shanker Iyer, Frontline, May21-June 3, 2005. www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2211/stories
by rural elites and the poor and illiterate masses will remain as mute supporters. The following are the basic elements of the PRI system introduced through 73rd Amendment Act. Gramsabha Article 243A provides that a GramSabha may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide. Gram Sabha" means a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village comprised within the area of Panchayat at the village level. Thus 73rd Amendment makes Gramsabha as the foundation of PRI system.10 Constitution of Panchayats Article 243 B visualizes a three-tier PRI system. It provides that in every state there shall be constituted Panchayats at the village intermediate and district levels. Small states with population below 20 lakh have been given the option to not to constitute the intermediate level. Article 243 C further provides that subject to the provisions of these part legislatures of state government may by law make provisions with respect to the composition of the Panchayats. However the ratio between the population of territorial area of a Panchayat at any level and the number of seats in such Panchayats to be filled by election, shall, so far as practical be same throughout the state.11 All the seats in a Panchayat shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area. For this purpose each Panchayat area shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the numbers of seats allotted to it should be the same throughout the Panchayat area.12 The legislatures of the states may by law provide for representation of following persons in Panchayats: 1. The Chairperson of the Panchayat at the village level, in the Panchayats at the intermediate level or I the case of a state not having intermediate Panchayats, in the Panchayats at district level.
Introduction to the Constitution of India, D.D.Basu. Constitution of India, 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 www.indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend73.htm
Constitution of India, 73rd Amendment Act, 1992
2. The Chairpersons of the Panchayat at the intermediate level in the district Panchayat. 3. The members of the Loksabha and the MLAs representing the territorial part of the Panchayat. 4. The members of Rajyasabha and Legislative Council of the state where they are registered as electors.13 The Chairperson of a Panchayat and other members of Panchayat whether or not chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area shall have the right to vote in the meetings of the Panchayat. The Chairperson of a Panchayat at the village level shall be elected in such a manner as the legislature of a state may by law provide. The Chairperson of a Panchayat at the intermediate level or district level shall be elected by the elected members there of.14 Powers and Functions of Panchayats Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Legislature of a State may, endow the Panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government and such law may contain provisions for the devolution of powers and responsibilities upon Panchayats at the appropriate level, subject to such conditions as may be specified therein, with respect to:
The preparation of plans for economic development and social justice; The implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them including those in relation to the matters listed in the Eleventh Schedule15.
Constitution of India, 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend73.htm www.indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend73.htm http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/amend/amend73.htm
The matters listed in 11th Schedule are as follows: 1. Agriculture and extension 2. Land improvement 3. Watershed development 4. Animal husbandry, Poultry and Diary 5. Fisheries, Social forestry and small scale industries 6. Rural Housing, Khadi, Drinking water and Sanitation 7. Community Health etc Powers to impose taxes and Funds. Article 243 H empowers the legislature of a State authorize a Panchayat to levy, collect and appropriate such taxes, duties, tolls and fees in accordance with such procedure and subject to such limits and assign to a Panchayat such taxes, duties, tolls and fees levied and collected by the State Government for such purposes and subject to such conditions and limits16. More over the article provide for making such grants-in-aid to the Panchayats from the Consolidated Fund of the State. The PRIs are entitled for Constitution of such Funds for crediting all moneys received, respectively, by or on behalf of the Panchayats and also for the withdrawal of such money from the funds. 17 Finance Commission Article 243(I) provides for the establishment of a Finance Commission for reviewing financial position of Panchayats. The Governor of a state shall within one year from the commencement of the Act, constitute a Finance Commission. It shall be the duty of the finance Commission to the principles, which should governy
The distribution between the State and the Panchayats of the net proceeds of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees leviable by the State, which may be divided between them under
this Part and the allocation between the Panchayats at all levels of their respective shares of such proceeds18;
The determination of the taxes, duties, tolls and fees which may be assigned to, or appropriated by, the Panchayat; The grants-in-aid to the Panchayats from the Consolidated Fund of the State19; The measures needed to improve the financial position of the Panchayats; Any other matter referred to the Finance Commission by the Governor in the interests of sound finance of the Panchayats.
y y y
Chapter VI Working effectiveness of Local Self-governments in India and West Bengal Improving core civic services
Providing Civic Services to the Citizen Most of the civic services are best provided by the Gram Panchayats (GPs), being the closest to the people. The upper tiers may also remain associated with directly providing certain services requiring higher engineering skill and organizational capacities or h aving impact over a wider geographical area and may also bear the responsibility of providing necessary supports in delivering services by the GPs. Therefore, the general approach should be to provide as much services as possible by the lowest tier, that is the GP, and the upper tiers working for providing support to the GPs in realizing that goal. The services that the PRIs should provide in various sectors are described mostly in this chapter and some of the other services have been described in subsequent chapters.
Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation
Let us first discuss the issue of conservation of water for sustainability of drinking water sources and regulation of use of ground water for use in industry/agriculture. At present there are a few programmes running in this field. Watershed Development Programme to capture
and store rain water is implemented by the Panchayat Samiti under the guidance of the Zilla Parishad in the drought prone area. Gram Panchayat may also implement such programmes of smaller dimensions. Newly introduced Hariyali programme for conservation and utilization of surface water also has a place in this scenario. Swajaldhara programme is again an initiative for piped water supply in rural areas especially where sub-soil water cannot be extracted. Besides, the Bengal Tanks Improvement Act, 1939 (Bengal Act XV of 1939) and the West Bengal Tanks (Acquisition of Irrigation Rights) Act, 1974 (West Bengal Act XXIII of 1974) have provisions for acquisition and improvement of tanks for irrigation and other purposes. Water supply to all the habitations needs to be ensured. To do this it is necessary to develop database for habitations with seasonal shortage of supplies and those having water quality problems. This will be best done by the Panchayat Samiti with full support from the Zilla Parishad with access to the database of SWID and similar other organisations linked with local knowledge and experience. Promotion of habitation based small piped water supply schemes has been targeted under Swajaldhara with connection to every household in the locality and group stand post in certain cases with recovery of at least 50% of the running cost from the user group and having maintenance liabilities. Capacities of the Rural Sanitary Marts (RSM) will be built up by the Panchayat Samitis to also Block and District levels will be similarly coordinated by the PS and the ZP. deliver water supply engineering related services and monitoring quality of water by establishment of laboratories or using existing laboratories. Surveillance of water qualities in each Block by the RSMs on payment will also be targeted. Special drive will be taken in areas with arsenic contamination/salinity. This will be the primary responsibility of the PSs but the part of the implementation related to collection of samples etc will be the responsibility of the GP. The water quality testing arrangements are to be financially sustainable. Attempts will also be taken for promotion of surface water based water supply arrangements in areas with arsenic contamination/salinity or exhibiting seasonal problem because of excess drawal of ground water. This will be the responsibility of the Zilla Parishads (ZPs) to take up with the State Government for actual implementation by the State Government (PHED).100% access to safe sanitary toilets in all the habitations have to be ensured. GP/Block wise plan for such 100% coverage is needed in each district depending on the present progress and keeping the area free from open defecation.
It has also been targeted to provide sanitation facilities at all public places and the responsibility will lie on the GP, PS or ZP depending on the place. Major initiatives in this respect shall be taken by the Janaswasthya O Paribesh Sthayee Samiti of the Panchayat Samiti and Siksha O Janaswasthya Upa-Samiti of the Gram Panchayat. They will take actions in regard to public places under their respective control and management.
Services Related to Public Health Improvement of public health is associated with a large number of activities and responsibilities by the local bodies, besides those related to water and sanitation as described above. Responsibility for improving public health lie with all tiers from the central government to the GPs and the same also demands informed and active participation of the people for desirable outcome. There are many national level programmes, including the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) as well as separate state government initiated measures for improving various aspects of preventive and promotive healthcare. The Panchayats will be responsible for organizing IEC activities and mobilizing the community for their active participation in those programmes and will attempt to reach the targeted objectives in respect of their areas by utilizing the available services. The National Rural Health Mission envisages that a) The District Health Mission will be led by the Zila Parishad, b) The DHM will control, guide and manage all public health institutions in the district, Subcentres, PHCs and CHCs, c) ASHAs would be selected by and be accountable to the Village Panchayat, d) The Village Health Committee (A functional committee of the GUS) of the Panchayat would prepare the Village Health Plan, and promote intersectoral integration, they will also be provided with sectoral untied fund of Rs. 1000/- per year, e) Each sub-centre will have an Untied Fund for local action @ Rs. 10,000 per annum. This Fund will be deposited in a joint Bank Account of the ANM & Pradhan and operated by the ANM, in consultation with the Village Health Committee, f) PRI involvement in Rogi Kalyan Samitis for good hospital Management, g) their would be adequate provision of training to members of PRIs. All these elements have been included in the plan of action worked out by the Health and Family Welfare department in their implementation plan for NRHM in West Bengal. The Panchayats will also add their own resources for making those programmes reach the entire community, particularly the weaker and the poorer sections and will ensure better delivery of all such public health programmes to those people. In case such services are not available or are of
poor quality the Panchayats will mediate with the Government for ensuring delivery of public health related services for which the responsibility lie with the Government.
Registration of birth and death ±
Power has been already given to the GP for registration of birth and death. In exercise of power conferred under section 6(5) of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 (18 of 1969), the Chief Registrar of Births and Deaths, West Bengal (Director of Health Services), empowered the Block Sanitary Inspectors or any other person functioning as Registrars under the aforesaid Act to appoint the Pradhans of the Gram Panchayats within their respective jurisdictions to act as Sub-Registrars (Notification No. HF/O/FW/14C-2/94(I)/174-P dated 19/5/1997). On being so appointed, the Pradhans are acting as Sub-Registrars, that is, they are collecting information on births and deaths, maintaining registers in the prescribed manner and making available such extract copies of the registers as may be intended for. They are also sending periodical reports to the Registrars on the work done by them. The PRDD has circulated an order No. 4231-PN/O/1/4P-5/2003 dated 12/11/2003 delineating the functions and responsibilities of the Pradhans on this issue. At present all such events, particularly all deaths are not registered though such services are provided free of cost. The GPs wil be l required to ensure cent percent registration of birth and death, which occurs within its jurisdiction. In order to achieve this purpose, the Gram Panchayat shall motivate all its members as also members of the Gram Unnayan Samitis to sensitise the people in general and to collect follow up information in this respect. That will also help the GPs to maintain the vital statistics of the population living within its area.
Immunisation of the children
The GP will be responsible for mobilizing the community in order to achieve 100% immunisation of children with appropriate support from the upper tiers of Panchayats and the State Government. The responsibility of the GP will be to see that adequate services are available within its area and, if not, will mediate with the State Government through PS, if necessary, so that every newborn has access to such services. The GP will also mobilize the parents and the community to take benefit of the services and will keep track of the actual coverage. All the doses are not taken by some children and to avoid that the GP will try to
maintain the immunization data child-wise in computers, as and when they acquire the capacity to do so. The state Government will assist the GPs to acquire such capacities within next three years. The purpose will be to track every new born to be sure that all the doses have been administered to every child.
The Panchayats will work towards providing access to government services related to birth preparedness for safe motherhoods to its residents and will utilise the support to be available under NRHM towards that goal. The poorer section of the society do not always access such services because of their lack of awareness as well as difficulty in access or even nonavailability of such services. The Panchayats will work for increasing awareness about availing such services like tetanus vaccination, pre-natal and post-natal check-ups and other good practices for safe motherhood. Those bodies will also take follow up measures including medical check up in deserving cases. Members of ASHA and women SHGs will be utilized to campaign and to keep vigilance on such matters. In case such services are not accessible to all, the GP will identify those areas and will mediate with the State government directly or through the PS for making available such services. GPs will also work towards taking appropriate measures for achieving at least 80% institutional deliveries and will ensure that the remaining births are attended by at least skilled persons. If the government maternity facilities are far off, the GPs will develop infrastructure in their head quarter health subcentres or in other suitable places for safe delivery of mothers with the help of the ANMs working in their jurisdiction. They may arrange skilled birth attendant from among the local women for providing services. The GPs will also monitor events related to maternal death and will take all preventive measures directly or with the support of the higher tiers or the State Government to avoid death of either the mother or the child.
Preventing malnutrition High incidence of malnutrition among the adolescent girl, mother and children is a major area of concern related to public health. Prevention of malnutrition will depend on several interventions by the Government, Panchayats and the households. The GP will be the lowest level at which the nutrition related data, mostly collected in the ICDS centres, will be monitored, aggregated and analysed for all possible interventions at that level. In order to do
that the GPs will ensure that all the children of the area up to the age of three years are brought under regular surveillance through the ICDS programme or otherwise. To supplement the general publicity and institutional efforts (medical advice) of the Health & Family Welfare Department of the State Government, the GP will also work for spreading awareness related to breast feeding and promotion of low cost nutrients including motivating the poorer families for developing kitchen garden for increasing the supply of nutrient foods and proper functioning of various feeding programmes at the ICDS centres and schools.
Prevention of diseases Prevention of communicable diseases in general is the task of the Government. However, the same becomes effective only when the entire community participate in those programmes. The role of the Panchayats will be to participate in all such programmes and utilize the resources available through existing programmes of the State and the Central Government to prevent communicable diseases by ensuring active participation of the people and adding their own efforts and resources for effective implementation of all those programmes. The outcome will be measured by the reduction of burden of disease of their residents and absence of outbreak of communicable diseases for which the GP will remain vigilant. The GP will pass on any incidence of outbreak of communicable diseases to the appropriate agencies and will provide all local supports to make government interventions in containing the same along with taking up local measures for preventing recurrence of such incidents. The Panchayats will take initiatives for control and home management of diarrhea and prevention of other water-borne diseases through awareness building and skill training. The Panchayats will also assist in building up awareness on diseases like AIDS for its prevention within its area. West Bengal has high incidence of Thalasemia and the same can be reduced by avoiding marriage in which both the bride and the groom (their mismatch) are carriers of the congenital ailment.
The Panchayats will work in association with the Government for controlling breeding of mosquito and other insects which are responsible for spreading disease. Those bodies will also take local measures for vector control and ensure participation of the people in all such measures like avoidance of accumulation of water, regular clearing of shrubs and bushes. Maintenance of environmental sanitation through proper drainage and sewerage, as already
described and keeping the area free from open defecation will be important tasks of the Panchayats in this respect.
As local government, the GP being too weak will not be able to enforce measures related to food safety nor have the Panchayats been legally empowered with that responsibility. However, even without such formal assignment the GPs may promote adoption of certain broad hygienic measures in respect of sale of readymade food to reduce the probability of spreading of infectious diseases and link the same with issuance and renewal of trade licenses for food related business or vending of food in public places and fairs etc. In order to spread awareness in this respect, GP may request the local officers of the Health and Family Welfare Department to participate in the meetings of Gram Sansad and Gram Sabha and explain the relevant issues to the people.
Monitoring of events of death of children and pregnant mothers
In order to reduce the IMR and the MMR to the desired level the Panchayats will be required to monitor all such events, which occur within their areas. The Health Supervisors, posted at the GPs, have already been entrusted by the Health & Family Welfare Department with the responsibility of conducting audit of all such deaths and reporting the same to the Gram Panchayats. The GP will have the responsibility to act on the basis of such reports by taking up suitable interventions locally as well as mediating with the higher tiers as well as the officials of the Health & Family Welfare Department for initiating possible measures in preventing such deaths.
Convergence of all public health Related Activities
Convergence of all public health related activities and assessment of quality and extent of delivery of all the related services will be an important task of the GPs. The State Government has already introduced a review meeting by the GP in the last Saturday of every month and officials of Health & Family Welfare Department and the Women & Child Development and Social Welfare Department along with functionaries of the GP attend this meeting.
Convergence of such efforts at the Block and District levels will be similarly coordinated by the PS and the ZP.
Building capacities of the Panchayats The State Government will work to augment the capacities of the Panchayat functionaries, particularly those at the GP level for being able to converge all the activities related to public health, monitor the progress of implementation of various programmes and be able to plan and implement local interventions for better outcome of the existing programmes to be judged by reduction of burden of diseases and better nutritional status of the population. The available functionaries of the State Government will be responsible for providing necessary support to the local body concerned for achievement of the said tasks.
Literacy programme by Local self-government Services Related to Universal Literacy and Elementary Education The 86th Amendment of the Constitution confers right to all for receiving education up to the age of 14 years. The PRIs should work in association with the State Government for realizing the goal for their entire population. This is one of the most important sectors, where the Panchayats will have activities of all the types like the devolved function, the agency function and the collaborative function. The State Government will gradually devolve all the nonacademic functions related to school education, which will include maintenance of buildings and other physical infrastructure like water supply and sanitation facilities, play grounds etc. in respect of schools run by the West Bengal Primary Education Board, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and the Board of Madrasah Education. This is being done at present only partially out of own fund of the Panchayat and there is need for devolving responsibilities in respect of activities being taken up under the SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan). For implementation of the SSA, the Chairperson of the Zilla Parishad is involved as Chairman of the District Level Committee on SSA and the same should be replaced by proper institutional involvement of the Zilla Parishad and other Panchayat bodies through clear assignment of responsibilities.
The Government of India has to take a decision in this regard for ensuring involvement of the Panchayats in implementation of the SSA. There is a Siksha,Sanskriti, Tathya O Krira Sthayee Samiti (Standing Committee on education, culture, information & sports) at Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti level. Likewise, there is Siksha O Janasasthya Upa-Samiti at Gram Panchayat. Sabhadhipati, Zilla Parishad, Sabhapati, Panchayat Samiti and Pradhan, Gram Panchayat are ex-officio members of these bodies at appropriate level. These bodies may be entrusted with the responsibility for implementation of the SSA and the parallel committees set up for the purpose, may be dissolved. At present the field functionaries of the School Education Directorate is not associated with the Panchayat Samitis excepting in attending meetings of the Standing Committees.
The Midday Meals Programme: The Mid-day meal scheme has been universalized at the primary level and is aimed at improving the nutritional status of about 12 crore children. It also aims to provide nutritional support to students of primary stage in drought affected areas during summer vacation. It is more of a nutrition programme delivered at the School. The Scheme is implemented in full in 20 States and all 7 UTs and partially implemented in 8 States- Assam, Bihar, Goa, J & K, Punjab, Jharkhand, U.P. and West Bengal. The institutional framework for the Scheme provides for a three-tier programme management structure, consisting of a nodal department in the State Government/ UT administration, nodal responsibility at the district level through the collector and management at the local level. The changes we would recommend in the scheme guidelines follow the broad contours of the suggestions in respect of SSA. In States which have devolved the function of primary education either by legislation or executive order on Panchayats, the responsibility of implementation and supervision of the programme will have to be assigned to Panchayats at all levels through Activity Mapping. The Standing Committees of Village Panchayats, which have been assigned the task of supervising education related issues can be entrusted the task of monitoring, reviewing and taking other necessary steps for the smooth implementation of the Scheme. Considering the daily importance of the programme, it shall be open to create a sub-committee of the Gram Sabha to exclusively implement the Scheme. Local Education Committees and mother committees may be positioned as subcommittees of the Gram Panchayats or of the Gram Sabha, subject to all the accountability processes that Panchayats work under, such as Grama Sabha and Social audits. It is open to have even 100 percent of these sub-committees of the Gram Sabha
constituted of mothers of children studying in Schools. This scheme is critically dependent on smooth fund flow, for effective implementation. Therefore direct transfer of funds to Gram Panchayats is desirable.
The National Literacy Mission The Total Literacy Campaign aims at area specific, time bound, participative approaches to tackle illiteracy. There are 3 components of the programme, namely, the main campaign as such, the post literacy programme and the continuing education programme. The programme covers 596 out of 600 Districts ± 142 under Total Literacy Campaigns, 182 under post literacy programme and 272 under continuing education programme The implementation of the Scheme is through Zilla Saksharata Samities (District level Literacy Committees). While there has been significant decline in absolute number of non literates from 328.88 m in 1991 to 304 m in 2001, there are still 270 mill adult illiterates in India (30 % of the world¶s illiterates). However the allocation provided under the Scheme has been declining and currently it is only proposed at Rs. 245 crores for 2006-07. We learn that the scheme is now proposed to be restructured. The State Government will devolve the responsibility of managing all programmes related to adult and continuing education to the appropriate level of the Panchayats. The National Literacy Mission Authority should issue enabling guidelines to make it happen faster.
Electricity programmes and Panchayats and municipality The Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) is the major rural electrification scheme of the Ministry of Power, which aims at providing electricity in all villages and habitations in four years and provides access to electricity to all rural households. This programme is one of the major components of Bharat Nirman. The approach is to strengthen the electricity distribution infrastructure by establishing Rural Electricity Distribution Backbone (REDB) with at least a 33/11KV sub-station, Village Electrification Infrastructure (VEI) with at least a Distribution Transformer in each village or hamlet, and stand-alone grids with generation where grid supply is not feasible. In remote villages the objectives of the RGGVY are proposed to be met through renewable energy and the programme is managed at the central level by the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES).
RGGVY envisages a 90% capital expenditure subsidy provided through the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC), the nodal agency for implementation of the scheme. Electrification of un-electrified BPL households is proposed to be 100% subsidized at Rs.1500/- per connection in all rural habitations. The Scheme envisages the management of Rural Distribution through franchisees and the guidelines stipulate that Panchayats will be involved with franchising. The services of Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSU) are available to the States for assisting them in the execution of Rural Electrification projects. Though rural electrification is one of the matters that may be devolved to Panchayats under the Eleventh Schedule, not much has been done in this direction so far. The framework and operation of the power generation and distribution business is a technically complex one and therefore involves a much higher degree of capacity building as compared to other sectors that are devolved to Panchayats. Therefore, the best strategy would be to open opportunities for Panchayats to engage in generation, distribution and management of power. We suggest four levels of such engagement between Panchayats and stakeholders in the Electricity sector such as State Electricity Boards and Electricity Supply Companies (SEB/ESCOMs) as described below: In States where piped water supply and streetlights are maintained by Panchayats, electricity bills constitute a major chunk of Gram Panchayat level expenditure. However, most connections to water supply and streetlights owned and maintained by Gram Panchayats are not metered and deductions towards electricity bills are made from funds going to Panchayats. This is causing tension and it is recommended that the Ministry of Power insist that wherever Panchayats are entrusted with the responsibility of water supply and streetlights, these installations ought to be metered and billed on the basis of actual electricity consumed. This will create a climate for further collaboration and reform. Panchayats could become franchisees for distribution of power in rural areas, on the same terms and conditions as cooperative societies and Gram Vidyut Pratinidhis (private franchisees) and undertake billing and collection of electricity dues, ledger maintenance and receive a commission for the same. ESCOMS/SEBs could provide training. Panchayats could also receive complaints and forward them for quick redressal, identify idle inventory and with proper guidance, exercise vigilance against theft. It would be open for the SEB/ESCOMs to offer to the Gram Panchayats incentives for undertaking these activities.
There could be a progressive deepening of the collaborative relationship between the SEB/ESCOMs and Gram Panchayats by a whole or part transfer or leasing of distribution assets to Gram Panchayats, which could, even through association with a mutually agreed private entrepreneur, undertake asset maintenance and management and distribution of power, along with the work of billing and collection. Experiments and innovations are desirable.
Finally, Panchayats could engage in distributed generation of power and distributing it in their area, either as a local vertically integrated stand-alone system or integrate with the grid. Panchayats could enter into agreements with private third parties to set up generation and distribution entities locally. Examples of such systems are already in place. For instance, in Tamilnadu, several Gram Panchayats generate electricity through Biomass gasification and other renewable sources. The power is being used first for their own streetlights and water supply requirements. Nagaland (even though it is a Schedule VI area) has frameworks where there is active involvement of the local community in local power generation and distribution.
These good practices need to be scaled up. In order to carry such reforms forward, coordinated action between the ministries of Panchayati Raj and Power would be required, so that both SEB/ESCOMs and Panchayats are facilitated to consider such engagement. Certain initiatives, including changes in the guidelines of RGGVY would be necessary and are recommended as follows: Under Section 14(8) of the Electricity Act 2003, every State has to issue a notification defining µrural areas¶, so as to de-license the business of generation and distribution of power in rural areas. This will simplify procedures and boost local initiatives in power generation and distribution by Panchayats. It is learnt that already 19 States have issued these notifications on the persuasion of the Ministries of Power and Panchayati Raj. The issue of notifications by the remaining states should be expedited. The guidelines of RGGVY state that project funding would cover ³decentralized generation cum-distribution from conventional sources for villages where grid connectivity is either not feasible or not cost effective, provided it is not coverned under the programme of the MNES for remote village electrification programme. This would mean that villages covered by the grid cannot be supported under the Scheme for decentralized distributed generation (DDG) using renewables. This is an unreasonable stipulation. First, it retards the growth of renewable energy, by restricting it to only remote villages. Second, it renders ineligible a large number of Gram Panchayats located in areas
covered by the grid for receiving funds under RGGVY to establish renewable energy based plants. The compartmentalization of renewable energy and grid power under RGGVY ought to be done away with and funding under the Scheme provided for renewable energy based generation even in grid covered areas.
The Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) is the sole programme that deals with housing for the poor from the Government of India. This programme gives a 100 percent subsidy, capped at Rs. 25,000 per unit for providing houses to families below the poverty line. Beneficiaries are to construct the house and payments are made directly to the beneficiary, on the completion of certain milestones in construction. The guidelines of IAY in its present form are both Panchayat-friendly and beneficiary friendly. However, it must be ensured that the selection of the beneficiaries and the coordination with them is with the Panchayats and not with the DRDAs. States have a variety of programmes for housing, each with its own ceilings and subsidies. This often results in duplication and misuse of funds. Panchayats need to be empowered to pool the resources for housing and adopt a single scheme witha narrow band of parameters.
The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana primarily aims to provide all weather access to unconnected habitations of upto 500 population (with relaxations for hill, desert and tribal areas) by 2007. Once this goal is achieved in a district, the Scheme permits upgradation of existing roads to prescribed standards, with priority given to through routes of the Rural Core Network, which carry more traffic. The Scheme mandates the development of master plans and a core network at the block and district level, approved by the Intermediate and District Panchayat respectively. The District Panchayat is also to prepare the annual proposals in consultation with Intermediate Panchayats and Gram Panchayats, in accordance with the district¶s fund allocation under the Scheme. Road alignments are to be undertaken in consultation with the Gram Panchayat. Executing Agencies are to be designated to implement the programme. It is open for States to designate the District Panchayat as the implementing agency. Executing Agencies are to create Project Implementation Units (PIUs) for each district or group of districts to implement the programme. Regarding maintenance, the
guidelines stipulate that all PMGSY roads are under five-year defect liability of the contractor and maintained by him under a contract for the said period. Funds for the maintenance contract are provided from the state budget. In case of rural through routes, a further five years¶ Zonal Contract is to be entered into at the end of the initial five-year period. State Governments are to take steps to build capacity in the District Panchayats and shall endeavour to devolve the funds and functionaries to these Panchayats to enable them to manage the maintenance contracts for rural roads. However, the guidelines also stipulate that till such time as District Panchayats take over maintenance functions, the Project Implementation Units will continue to be responsible for administration of post-construction and zonal maintenance contracts. Roadside tree planting can be taken up by Panchayats from their own funds. The programme guidelines also state that building good roads is not an end in itself and efforts to converge this objective with that of improving indicators of education, health, rural incomes etc. ought to be aimed for and monitored by Panchayats.
Chapter VII Critical Evaluation
Panchayati Raj was indeed one of the most remarkable social and political reforms since independence. However, PRIs today face a number of daunting challenges. Across all states there is a lack of genuine devolution of funds, functions and functionaries in Panchayati Raj. Added to that are social challenges that work against the emergence of leadership from marginalized sections of society, such as women, Dalits and tribals. Further, there is a lack of role clarity among Gram Panchayats, Block Panchayats and District Panchayats. The sociopolitical changes expected by the introduction of Panchayati Raj system remained largely unfulfilled for long. Particularly the objectives like social equality, gender equity and the change at grass-root level leadership envisaged as the main among the objectives of Panchayati Raj were not fulfilled in a meaningful manner. In this regard it was felt that the marginalized groups like the women and other backward castes in the society continue to face many hurdles and found it difficult to participate at the grass-root level developmental process Some of the shortcomings of the system identified by various studies are as follows:
1. Uniformity of PR system undermines each state¶s unique history, traditions and consequent structures of local government 2. Representation of members of parliament and state legislatures are often became counter productive. There are clash of interest between the legislatures and PR representatives particularly for getting votes. 3. The Act does not define role of political parties clearly. It doesn¶t mention that political parties can enter the election arena in their formal capacity. 4. The Act is silent about the relationship between PRIs and local bureaucracy 5. The Act doesn¶t spell out specific grounds for dissolution of PRIs by states. This gives scope for the states to dissolve PRIs on political considerations. Though the PRI system has so many positive features, yet the elite control over the system, apprehensions of state level leaders of challenge to their power and the lukewarm attitude of the bureaucracy have not yet allowed the PRIs to function as real democratic institutions with people¶s participation. Studies from different states in India clearly proves that even though some states have shown political activism to implement PRIs the unequal social structure and rigid caste system prevalent in Indian villages coupled with power-hungry local bureaucracy kill the spirit of the system.20 Chapter VIII Success of Local self-government: Comparative Study After the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act all states in India initiated the process of radical democratic decentralization. However the experience of PRIs shows that success of PRIs in India is not uniform throughout the country. In some states the system has played a vital role in changing traditional power structure dominated by local elite bureaucratic network. I n other states the new system has lead to empowerment of hitherto marginalized sections of society like women, SC and SC. Unfortunately in some other states lack of political will and administrative apathy killed the real devolution of power. Uusing the conventional classification of µpolitical, administrative and fiscal decentralization,¶ the World Bank¶s three-volume study of Indian decentralization ranks India µamong the best performers¶ internationally in terms of political decentralization, but µclose to the last¶ in terms of
Interview with Mani Shanker Iyer, Frontline, May21-June 3, 2005
administrative decentralization. Most States have held at least one round of elections since 1993. Reservations allowing the participation of women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been respected. Finally, voter participation has been high. In its study of 53 villages in Rajasthan and MP, for instance, the World Bank found that voter turn out in Panchayat elections was well over 90% for all categories (defined in terms of gender, class and caste). This is significantly higher than the (still high) turnout for the most recent (1998) round of Lok Sabha elections, which was 61% for women and 65.9% for men17. In its assessment of Indian decentralization, the Task Force on Devolution of Powers and Functions upon Panchayati Raj Institutions (MoRD, 2001) found that µmost of the States¶ had satisfied only the basic requirements relating to the transfer of functions, functionaries, funds and financial autonomy to the Panchayats 21. These findings upheld three important limitations, which are commonly associated with Indian decentralization. 1. The government bodies that operate within their jurisdiction are part of a federal system, in which powers are defined by a written Constitution, and divided among Union, State and sub-State bodies. 2. The institutions empowered by Indian decentralization are situated in a longstanding structure of public administration, whose interests and nature are not necessarily consistent with the provisions outlined in the 73rd Amendment. 3. Finally, this process has happened in a context of political transition, in which customs of discrimination and inequality in rural areas are thought to have been challenged by forces arising from the green revolution and other forms of guided intervention22. However some states are ahead of other states in implementing PRIs. For example, Kerala has set a model for decentralized planning with people¶s participation and an innovative model for allocating fund for PRIs. In Kerala, the local self-governments belonging to higher tiers do not have any control over the lower tiers. The Panchayat presidents are very clear about their role in providing services, and developing panchayat plans and implementing them. The Panchayat presidents take an active interest in the proper running of day care centres , primary schools, and health sub centres. They actively look into the maintenance of buildings housing these institutions, regular attendance of the staff, and other infrastructure needs. In Kerala PRIs has initiated the process of participatory natural resource management, water shed
management and adult literacy programmes. In some districts IT local Panchayat authorities also introduced training programmes. Participation of women and marginalized community in development process has lead to their empowerment to a great extent. However Kerala is also not free from elite capture of political power in grass root level. Over politicization and interference of local political party leaders often affected the functioning of PRIs making it less objective and more partisan. Another state, which has shown initial activism in PRI, is Madhya Pradesh. Even before the amendment Madhya Pradesh had a long tradition of local self- governments. So when the Act was implemented, Madhya Pradesh has used the district planning committee provision of the 73rd amendment and pass decision-making powers to districts. It has also empowered the gram sabha to carry out the functions of Gram Panchayat through numerous committees under the gram swaraj. Madhya Pradesh PRI system is characterized by committee system at the local level managed by members of Gramsabha and other higher levels. However, this system is not functioning due to lack of awareness among the members and bureaucratic indifference to provide technical guidance to the representatives on powers assigned to them. Thus the PRI representatives under utilized the powers and functions delegated to the committees. In Madhya Pradesh we can see elite capture of the system without giving actual representation to marginalized sections of society even though the Act guarantees it. Yet another problem connected to this is had been the love-hate relationship between the local level bureaucracy and the elected representative of PRIs. Both use to move in different directions, due to lack of proper coordination and clarity of functions. More over there is also a tendency towards politicization of local bureaucracy. The Panchayat system has been implemented with such pace that the system of governance has not had time to attune itself to these major structural changes23. The elite capture is much stronger in Tami Nadu where Dalit Panchayat members were not even allowed to contest in election. When the hitherto downtrodden people try to establish themselves, assert their opinion and to question the established patrons of authority through constitutional means, traditional caste forces reacted vehemently to revert the natural process of empowerment. This trend was most evident in Tamil Nadu where patriarchal norms and caste equations play vital role in politics. Naturally this has resulted in the creation of several stumbling blocks in Dalit women¶s assertion, mobilization and empowerment. Thus the chief factor hindering proper functioning of dalit PRIs in Tamil Nadu is strong opposition from
upper caste representatives and caste groups. In several panchayats non-cooperation from upper caste members have virtually halted the day-to-day activities of gramsabhas and gram panchayats. In Pappapatti and Keerippatti panchayats, Dalit Panchayat presidents resigned soon after their election when they failed to challenge the casteist forces World Bank studies on PRIs in Andhra Pradesh conclude that decentralization in AP have emphasized a State that has become decidedly hostile to the interests of Panchayati Raj. In contrast to Madhya Pradesh¶s ambitious µexperiment¶ in direct democracy the AP government has been associated with a system of governance that has undermined the Panchayats in favor of line departments and µparallel bodies¶ such as water user groups, joint forest management committees, self-help groups etc24.
Chapter IX Conclusion
The experience of different states show that though the PRIs has so many positive features, yet the elite control over the system has not permitted them to work as per the objectives enshrined in Indian Constitution. The need is to evolve a comprehensive concept of PRI system .For this the PRIs has to play three important roles: 1. It should bring about decentralization of administrative powers in the sense that it has to encourage self-governance and mass participation in its working 2. The PRIs have to contribute towards strengthening the planning process at the micro level and overall rural development 3. It has to improve the access of the masses to the highest level of decision-making process. 4. The PRI should ensure the empowerment of the poor and marginalized people and protect them from exploitation of dominant class. 5. PRI members have to be trained for their new role. This is because they have limited knowledge about the Panchayat Act and its provisions, objectives and functions of PR bodies, the dynamics of rural society and the growth potential of their areas. Bureaucracy has to become more committed to PRIs. Grass root democracy would seem to have been established in India through 73rd amendment of the constitution. But even the Act has not resolved the problem of clearly defining the role
of local bureaucracy and the elected representatives. Unfortunately the Act has not even defined the role of political parties. A critical review of the 73rd Amendment and the assessment of the ways in which different States have followed or resisted the stipulations outlined in the 1993 reforms reveals that the grass root democracy in India still suffers from three limitations- federal constraints, a resistant bureaucracy and local elite capture. Reviewing experiences from, different states, studies conducted by Overseas Development Institute [ODI] gives some propositions about the conditions under which decentralization can lead to improved accountability for poor and marginal groups in society. They are:
Active participation among broad elements of society, involving activities such as voting, campaigning, attending meetings, running for office, lobbying representatives, etc.
Fiscal and political support from higher level authorities within government; The existence of competitive political parties whose legitimacy depends at least in part on the support of the poor.
Deeper economic transformations, which embolden traditionally, subordinate groups to challenge local authority structures.
The 11th Finance Commission also came out with similar suggestions. One of the serious concerns the Commission highlighted was that the PRIs as been marginalized by the Center government and state government by sponsoring schemes for rural areas without associating these bodies in their planning and implementation. This is especially true against the context of new central schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Act [NREGA] and National Rural Health Mission. Though both these schemes are wide in scope and aim to transform rural India through direct intervention, the process of implementation have marginalized PRIs. It is imperative to revive PRIs in the era of globalization and liberalization. Local initiatives and developmental efforts can indeed enhance competitiveness and income generation among the village community. Thus rural-urban divide can be minimized using PRIs as an effective catalyst for making villages assertive, self reliant and competitive. Thus revival of PRIs should not undergo another eclipse on the earlier pattern. There has to be genuine commitment to Local self-government as a political value and ideology.
Text Books 1. Sharma M.P. ± ³Recent experiments in local self-government in India´,2nd edition; Allahabad Publication. 2. Sir Sirkar Jadunath ± ³Mughal Administration´ 1st edition; Gayn deep publication. 3. Palanithuri G 2001. ³Empowering People for Prosperity: A Study in New Panchayati Raj System´, New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers. 4. Dr.Basu Durga Das, ³Introduction to the Constitution of India´,18th Edition (Aug,1999);Wadhwa & Company ,Nagpur Cyber Books: 1. ³Journal of Public Administration´, XLIX (3). Retrieved on 15th March 2007 http:// www.indianngo.com.Visited on 17th May 2010. 2. Report of the Expert Group¶s (V. Ramachandran, Chairman) ³PLANNING AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL´ An Action Programme for the Eleventh Five Year Plan (March 2006, New Delhi) www.odi.org.uk/Publications/working_papers/wp199.pdf Visited on 22nd May 2010. 3. ³Roadmap for the Panchayats in West Bengal´ (A Vision Document) Panchayat & Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal; www.indiacode.nic.in/coiweb.htm Visited on 22nd May 2010 4. Menon, Sudha Venu; ICFAI Business School, Ahmedabad;
³Grass root democracy and empowerment of people:evaluation of Panchayati Raj in India´; Published on 17 June 2007, Online at http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/3839/ MPRA Paper No. 3839, posted 07. November 2007 / 03:29 : Visited 25 th May 2010 5. Interview with Mani Shanker Iyer, Frontline, May21-June 3, 2005. www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2211/stories.htm ; Visited on 15th July 2010