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Panchayati Raj in Madhya Pradesh

Panchayati Raj System In Madhya Pradesh

Introduction: Madhya Pradesh took an early lead in implementing the three-tier Panchayati Raj system under the Madhya Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act, 1993. However, the availability of funds has been a longstanding issue faced by gram panchayats, continuing to be a challenge.

The Panchayat Raj system was first adopted by the state of Rajasthan in Nagaur district on 2 Oct 1959. During the 1950s and 60s, other state governments adopted this system as laws were passed to establish panchayats in various states. The second state was Andhra Pradesh, while Maharashtra was the ninth state.

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About Panchayati Raj:

  • The Panchayati system has existed in India since ancient times. But it is formally recognized in 1992 through the 73rd and 74th amendment acts to the Indian Constitution.
  • Various committees and commissions, such as the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957) and the Ashok Mehta Committee (1977), recommended the establishment and empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) over the years.
  • Article 40 of the Indian Constitution, a Directive Principle of State Policy, directs the organization of village panchayats and the endowment of powers and authority to them, a mandate fulfilled by these amendments.
  • The amendments aim to establish direct democracy in India.

Key Features of the 73rd and 74th Amendments:

  • Part IX of the Constitution provides for a three-tier Panchayat system in every state, comprising village, intermediate, and district levels.
  • These amendments make provisions for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and women in Panchayati Raj leadership. The 73rd and 74th Amendments, which first introduced reservation for women in elected bodies.
  • Funds are to be provided to Panchayats as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
  • The 11th schedule delineates the distribution of powers between the State legislature and the Panchayats.
  • The amendments also provide for the constitution of three types of municipalities: Nagar Panchayat, Municipal Council, and Municipal Corporation, thereby establishing Local Self Governance in urban areas.
  • Similar to Panchayats, they also have provisions for the reservation of seats for SC, ST, and women.

Significance of the 73rd and 74th Amendments:

  • Effective and Efficient: PRIs are seen as platforms for providing social justice through dispute resolution, making them accessible, cost-effective, and participatory.
  • Developmental Role: Panchayats have played a crucial role in the development of rural areas in India.
  • Good Governance: PRIs provide on-site and continuous governance, different from post-facto and remote control governance.
  • Accountability: Since PRIs are based on direct democracy, they tend to be more accountable to the people who elect them.

Issues with Local Self-Government (LSG) Bodies:

  • Funds: Despite the Finance Commission’s recommendations, fund devolution to PRIs is often inadequate and delayed.
  • Functions: PRIs sometimes lack role and goal clarity, functioning independently at the village level but facing administrative ambiguity due to partial decentralization by state or district administration.
  • Functionaries: PRIs often bear numerous responsibilities without sufficient resources or manpower support, leading to challenges in project planning and execution.
  • Proxy Presence: In many cases, the sarpanch (village head) is a mere rubber stamp with real power vested elsewhere, influenced by political parties and local leaders.
  • Goal Distortions: PRIs can become populist, making decisions to please the public rather than focusing on developmental objectives.

The implementation of Panchayati Raj Institutions in India, while promising, faces a range of challenges, including issues related to fund allocation, role clarity, resource support, and effective governance. Addressing these challenges is crucial for realizing the true potential of local self-government in the country.

Recent Development in Reservation of Women

Government introduced The Constitution (One hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023. Seeks to reserve 33% seats for women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies. The quota will be applicable to the reserved seats for SCs and STs as well.

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