Following the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, India’s states began a radical democratic decentralization process. In terms of implementing the Panchayati Raj Institutions, certain states are ahead of others. In several governments, the system has been critical in shifting the old power structure, which has been dominated by a local elite bureaucratic network. In other states, the system has resulted in the empowerment of formerly oppressed groups such as women, SCs, STs, and other members of the backward classes.
Kerala has developed a decentralized planning approach with citizen engagement as well as an innovative cash distribution methodology for Panchayati Raj institutions. Local governments in the highest tiers have no authority over those in the lower tiers. Kerala’s panchayat presidents are extremely clear about their responsibility in providing services, establishing panchayat plans, and putting them into action. They assist in the appropriate operation of day-care centers, elementary schools, and health sub-centers. Kerala’s Panchayati Raj Institutions have started participatory natural resource management, watershed management, and adult literacy programmes. Kerala, on the other hand, is not immune to elite takeover of political power at the grassroots level. Over politicization and involvement by local political party leaders has frequently harmed panchayati raj institutions, making them less objective and more partisan.
Madhya Pradesh is another state that has demonstrated Panchayati Raj activism. Madhya Pradesh has employed the 73rd Amendment Act’s district planning provisions to delegate decision-making authority to the districts. It has also given the Gram Sabha the authority to carry out the functions of the Gram Panchayat through the Gram Swaraj’s several committees. The committee system at the local level is governed by members of the Gram Sabha and other higher levels in the Madhya Pradesh Panchayati Raj model. However, the Madhya Pradesh model of Panchayat system is not free of flaws and drawbacks. The system is not functioning well due to lack of awareness among the people and members and due to bureaucratic indifference to provide technical guidance to the representatives over the powers and responsibilities assigned to them
The elite dominance of the system has prevented panchayats from carrying out the objectives enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The development of a complete system of panchayati raj institutions is to be considered vital. The panchayats must play the following crucial functions in order to achieve this:
- Panchayats should encourage self-governance and broad engagement in their activities, keeping in mind the decentralization of administrative authority.
- They should be required to contribute to the micro-level planning process as well as overall rural development.
- They should be required to assist the general public in gaining access to the highest levels of decision-making.
- The Panchayat members should be trained in their new roles. This is due to their lack of understanding of the Panchayat Act and its rules, as well as the objectives, functions, and dynamics of rural society. The local administration should be encouraged to support Panchayati Raj institutions.
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