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The Panchayat Raj System was first adopted by the state of Rajasthan in Nagaur district on 2nd Oct 1959. The second state was Andhra Pradesh, while Maharashtra was the Ninth state.
In India, the Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) now 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), and Zila Parishad (district level). It was formalized in 1992 by the 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution.
The 73rd amendment contains provision for devolution of powers and responsibilities to the panchayats, both for the preparation of socio-economic development plans and the ability to levy and collect appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees. The authority relating to transfer of powers and funds to PRIs vests with the states.
Gram panchayat is a village level administrative body, with a Sarpanch as its elected head. The members of the gram panchayat are elected for a period of five years by the members of Gram Sabha.
On August 27, 2009, the Union Cabinet of the Government of India approved 50 percent reservation for women in PRIs. Several states have implemented 50 percent reservation for women in PRIs.The majority of candidates in these Panchayats are women.
Under the 14th Finance Commission, Centre will be releasing more than 2 lakh crore rupess to Gram Panchayats for 5 years to undertake physical and social infrastructure projects in the villages.
The National Panchayati Raj Day was observed on April 24.The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been celebrating the National Panchayati Raj Day (NPRD) on 24 April since 2010, as on this day, the 73rd Constitutional Amendment came into force in 1993.
The Gram Sabhas are organised to discuss:
• Gram Panchayat Development Plans for local economic development,
• Optimum utilization of funds available with PRIs, Clean drinking water and sanitation,
• Role of women in village and rural development. • Social inclusion
E-panchayat is one of the Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) and it aimed at making Panchayats more efficient, transparent and symbols of modernity by leveraging ICT to become modern institutions of self governance at the cutting edge level by ensuring greater openness through transparency, disclosure of information, social audit, efficient delivery of services, improving internal management of Panchayats, procurement etc.
Under the e-Panchayat MMP, 11 Core Common Software applications are planned. Four of these applications namely PRIASoft, PlanPlus, National Panchayat Portal and Local Governance Directory have been rolled out.
Six more applications except Geographic Information System (GIS) namely Area Profiler, ServicePlus, Asset Directory, ActionSoft, Social Audit and Trainings Management have also been launched in April, 2012 on the occasion of National Panchayat Day.
Over 65,000 Panchayats are using PRIASoft and over 75,000 plans of different urban local bodies, rural local bodies and line departments are available online on PlanPlus application.
Panchayats Extension to the Scheduled Areas (PESA)
• The Parliament passed Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 to extend the provisions of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Schedule V Areas of the country.
• The Fifth Schedule covers Tribal areas (scheduled areas) in 9 states of India namely Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa and Rajasthan.
Empowerment of Panchayats
Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme aims to recognize and incentivize the efforts of Panchayats with respect to transparency, accountability and efficiency and of States with respect to devolution of funds, functions and functionaries to Panchayats
The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Yojana is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme being implemented with the objective of assisting efforts of the State Governments for training and capacity building of elected representatives of PRIs. Funding of the scheme is applicable only for the non-BRGF districts. The scheme focuses primarily on providing financial assistance to the States/UTs for Training & Capacity Building of elected representatives (ERs) and PRIs.
Rural Businsess Hubs (RBHs), a Central Sector demand driven Scheme, is being implemented for promoting businesses using raw materials/skills available in the rural areas. The scheme works on a PPP model and is applicable in all the BRGF districts and all the districts in the North-Eastern Region.
Panchayati raj institutions still lack human resources for implementing development programmes. A programme of "human resource reforms for results" will be launched during 2017-18 for this purpose. Over 50,000 Gram Panchayats will be made “poverty free” in the current financial year.
The Panchayats receive funds from three sources: 1. Local body grants, as recommended by the Central Finance Commission 2. Funds for implementation of centrally sponsored schemes and 3. Funds released by the state governments on the recommendations of the State Finance Commissions
Our First Prime Minister of Independent India Jawahar lal Nehru said, “ India is poor because villages of India are poor. India will be rich if the villages of India are rich. Panchayats should be given greater powers, for we the villagers to have a greater measure of Swaraj in their own villages.”
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