Understanding Panchayati Raj in India

Panchayati Raj: Levels & Composition 

Introduced by the constitutional amendment in 1992, Panchayati Raj in India refers to the system of local self-government. There is a difference between modern Panchayati Raj and its Gram Panchayats and should not be confused with the extra-constitutional Khap Panchayats found in Northern India.

Now, Panchayati Raj functions as a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of local administration.

The system has three levels –

Gram Panchayat (Village level)

Mandal Parishad or Block Samiti or Panchayat Samiti (Block level)

Zila Parishad (District level)

Currently, the Panchayati Raj system is practiced and exists in all the states and UT except, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram and Delhi respectively.

The sources of funds for Panchayats are 

Recommended by the Central Finance Commission, the local body grants.

Funds for implementation of centrally sponsored schemes.

On the recommendation of the State Finance Commission, funds released by the State Governments.

What is Gram Panchayat?

The members of Gram panchayat are elected by the members of Gram Sabha for the period of five years. The head of the Sabha is known as Sarpanch.

Sources of Income –

Taxes collected as on water, pilgrimage places, local mandirs, and markets.

A fixed grant from the state government.

What is Panchayat Samiti?

The local government body at the tehsil level is known as a Panchayat Samiti. It works for the villages of the tehsil which is collectively known as a ‘development block’.

Let us have a look at the common departments in the samiti –

–          General administration

–          Finance

–          Public work

–          Agriculture

–          Health

–          Education

–          Social welfare

–          Information technology

–          Water supply department

–          Animal husbandry and others

What is Zila Parishad?

Governing of the advanced system at the district level in Panchayat Raj is also popularly known as Zila Parishad.

Composition –

The total number of members in Zila Parishad varies from 40 to 60.

–          Deputy commissioner of the district

–          Presidents of all Panchayat Samitis in the district

–          Heads of all government departments in the district

–          A representative of each cooperative society

–          Some women and scheduled caste members if not adequately represented

–          Co-opted members having extraordinary achievement and experience in public service.

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