Arise and rejuvenate the third layer of governance
Why in News
- Due to emergence of second wave of Pandemic, India has been decided to celebrate National Panchayati Day on 24th April 2021 virtually.
National Panchayati Day
- 24th April, 1993 marked as the day of historic moment, when the power was decentralized to the grassroots with the establishment of Panchayati Raj System.
- On that day 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 was implemented.
- This occasion provides an opportunity to Panchayat representatives to direct connect with the Centre from all over the country.
- This day also recognize achievements of Panchayat to empower and motivate them
- It was first celebrated on 2010 and since then it celebrated every year on 24th April.
- Every year the best performing Panchayats/States/UTs across the country has been awarding by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj for their good work for improving delivery of services and public goods.
The Journey of Panchayat
- The Cholas were the pioneers in the formation of local bodies as part of a well-organized hierarchy to oversee the implementation of progressive plans.
- The very famous quote quoted by the Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi: “The voice of the people is the voice of god; The voice of the Panchayat is the voice of the people.”
- Panchayati raj ensures that the voices of the people are heard loud and clear.
- Realizing that seamless administration is impossible without power sharing, the British, in 1884, passed the Madras Local Boards Act.
- With this, the British formed unions in both small towns and big cities and began to appoint members to ensure better administration.
- To a certain extent, this brought about positive changes in basic parameters such as health and hygiene.
- With the advent of gram panchayat laws in 1920, people over 25 years of age were bestowed with the right to vote and choose their panchayat member
- Even though Gandhiji was constantly laying emphasis on the importance of autonomously ruled villages, the idea received constitutional recognition only in 1992.
- It was only after the 73rd Amendment in the 1990s that the Panchayati raj law came into force.
- This was the law that brought about massive turning points such as:
- The initiation of Gram Sabha,
- A three-tier Panchayati raj methodology of governance,
- Reservation for the downtrodden and women,
- Consistency in economic development,
- Local body elections once in five years,
- The formation of the State Election Commission,
- Finance Commission, and the
- Power to draft the rules and responsibilities of the Panchayat.
- The regions which were better equipped with basic facilities and which were more developed than the villages were brought under one coordinated body, namely, the municipality.
- The district capitals were further slotted into a combined parameter, namely, the corporation.
- The administration was transferred to the people, from the politicians and other officials.
- The lofty dream of Gandhiji to make each village of independent India a republic organization, and to reiterate that the autonomous administration of villages should be made the foundation of the entire country’s administration was heard and he lay stress on the active participation of the people in governance.
- The decisions taken during a grama sabha meeting and the proposed solutions with a feasible deadline are potent and powerful.
- Unfortunately, the reality today is that grama sabhas have become more like auction houses.
- Even though the government announced that people’s opinions would be considered, it went ahead and conducted meetings, which were marked by poor attendance and poor representation from the people.,
- Even then, the government went ahead with the approval of projects which are impediments to normal life.
- The truth is that keeping in mind a single goal, of profit, politicians hold ‘negotiations’ with the officials. Several projects are being implemented for the benefit of private and corporate entities.
- Unfortunately, women do not find themselves in major administrative roles in the local bodies, though, on paper, women are shown to be a considerable force.
The Kerala Example
- The State of Kerala has been diligently working toward ensuring the proper use of allotted funds, and ensuring the efficiency of administration and eligible member appointments.
- To ensure efficiency,
- We need to strengthen our grama sabhas,
- Hold area sabhas in cities,
- Form ward committees,
- Hold online Panchayat meetings,
- Ensure decent remuneration to Panchayat chiefs and councilors and
- Also bestow the grama sabha with the power to revoke appointed members and representatives.
- These steps are what will ensure real growth in the State.
- The State-appointed corporation commissioner faces mammoth challenges when a member of the Opposition party takes charge as a mayor.
- The constant and meaningless conflicts between the ruling party and the mayor from the Opposition party make it impossible for the corporation commissioner to execute what was agreed upon in a meeting.
- The same treatment is meted out to municipal councilors and district councilors.
- India needs to ensure that Panchayati raj should be strengthened.
- Gandhiji’s belief was that the voices of people will resolve what violence can never be successful in resolving.
- And Gandhi’s dream could be possible only after strengthening and proper implementation of the Panchayati Raj System at grassroot level.