Panchayati Raj in India

The Balwant Rai Mehta report was greeted very warmly, and Panchayati raj was introduced with great fanfare all over the country. The committee recommended a three-tier system of rural local government, which is called panchayat raj. The principal thrust of the Mehta report was on the decentralization of democratic institutions in an effort to shirt decision centres closer to the people to ensure their participation, and to put the bureaucracy under local popular control.
The recommendations of the Balwant Rai Mehta committee were accepted by the National Development Council in 1958 and subsequently Rajasthan in 1959 became the first state in India to launch the Panchayati Raj. This continued for 5-6 years and after that the institutions started crippling due to lack of resources, political will, and bureaucratic apathy and change the government priorities.

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The rural elites dominated the system and the benefit of the development schemes was not able to reach to the last corner of the country. The legitimacy of the Panchayati Raj institutions came under questions. There was not much development in this site until the Congress was thrown out of center and Janta Government came in 1977.
The institution of Panchayati Raj was inaugurated by Jawahar lal Nehru on October 2, 1959 in Nagaur District of Rajasthan. Nine days later, Andhra Pradesh became the second state to launch Panchayati Raj at Shadnagar near Hyderabad.
The launch of the Panchayati Raj institutions was a thumping success and soon the states started adopting the institutions. This continued for 5-6 years and after that the institutions started crippling due to lack of resources, political will, and bureaucratic apathy and change the government priorities. The rural elites dominated the system and the benefit of the development schemes was not able to reach to the last corner of the country. The legitimacy of the Panchayati Raj institutions came under questions. There was not much development in this site until the Congress was thrown out of center and Janta Government came in 1977. However, before that there are some efforts in the form of committees were done to make the system more efficient.

THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

On 15 August 1947, India got an opportunity of redeeming the pledges made to the people during the long-drawn freedom movement. Among the first tasks that India had to assume was the formulation and execution of the first five year plan in the fifties.
Post Independence, the first major development programme launched in India was Community Development Programme in 1952. Core philosophy was overall development of rural areas and people’s participation.
This programme was formulated to provide an administrative framework through which the government might reach to the district, tehsil / taluka and village level.
All the districts of the country were divided into “Development Blocks” and a “Block Development Officer (BDO)” was made in charge of each block.
Below the BDO were appointed the workers called Village Level Workers (VLW) who were responsible to keep in touch with 10-12 villages. So, a nationwide structure was started to be created.
Thousands of BDOs and VLW’s were trained for the job of carrying out array of government programmes and make it possible to reach the government to villages. Top authority was “Community Development Organization” and a Community Development Research Center was created with best academic brains of the country at that time.
This programme was not successful. It’s failure was directly attributed to inadequacy of avenues of popular participation in local level programmes of rural development. This was the finding of the team for the study of community projects and national extension service under the chairmanship of Balwant Rai Mehta, reporting in 1959.
There are several advantages of the Decentralization. Decision-making being closer to the people, decentralization ensures decision-makers more effective accountability to the governed. This also ensures more realistic programming, for local problems are apt to receive urgent attention. Local vigilance also increases, thereby reducing the room for corruption. This certainly goes a long way towards maximising returns on every rupee spent on development. These are some of the tangible advantages of decentralization. On 15 August 1947, India got an opportunity of redeeming the pledges made to the people during the long-drawn freedom movement.