Author : Yuvraj Kashyap

As the father of nation Mahatma Gandhi stated that “ if the village perishes India will perish too”. He presumed villages as Self-sufficient Republic. Also India is regarded as the land of villages. As per 2011 census of India, approximately 70% of Indians resides in villages which forms the base of development and the start-up of a well democratic government. Hence the Panchayati Raj system was developed to implement the democracy at grass root level.


Panchayati Raj system is the form of “local self government” in rural areas and has always existed in the Indian society since ancient era. As we have seen in in Rig Vedic period that there were Sabha and Samiti which administered the area of the Rig Vedic society at the basic level.

We have also the written records of Panchayat system in various ancient Indian books as:

  • Dharmashatra
  • Arthashashtra
  • Buddhist Texts

In the mediaeval period we have also various evidences of Panchayati system. As in the Delhi Sultanate the ground level system known as Paragana (headed by Amil) and the Paragana was further divided into villages(headed by Muquddam) for administering the provincial government.

However in the British period the Panchayat system lost drastically and Zamindari system flourished. But among the Britishers “Lord Rippon”, suggested Local Self Government. Hence he was called the father of local self government in India. Also Gandhiji always supported idea of “Gram Swarajya”.


Panchayati Raj system is required to implement “decentralization of power”. The Indian Constitution also initiated the provision for Panchayati Raj which was mentioned under Article 40 of the Indian Constitution in the Directive Principle Of State Policy. And it is already known to us that the DPSPs are not enforceable in the territory of India.

So, in 1957 Balwant Rai Mehta Committee was setup to suggest provision of Panchayati Raj system. The committee suggested of three tier system for Panchayati Raj system :

  1. Zila Parishad (District Level)
  2. Block & Panchayat Samiti (Block Level)
  3. Gram Panchayat (Village Level)

Hence the first Panchayati Raj was set up in Rajasthan which is followed by Andhra Pradesh in 1959. After that many committees formed which made changes to Panchayati Raj system as :

  • Ashok Mehta Committee,1978: strengthen for two tier of Panchayati Raj System.
  • G V K Rao Committee, 1985: again focused on three tier of Panchayati system
  • L M Singhvi Committee, 1986: recommended government for Constitutional structure of Panchayati Raj System.

Finally, by the 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 the Panchayat Raj was added in the Constitution of India in Part IX and Schedule 11 titled THE PANCHAYAT ( Article 243 of the Constitution).

Features of 73rd Amendment Act 1992

  • Formation of three tier Panchayat Structure at District, Block and Village level.
  • There should be direct election for almost all post. And the election carried by the State Election Commission.
  • 21 years old should be the minimum age of contesting elections in the Panchayati system.
  • Reserved seats for Scheduled castes/Schedule tribes and 1/3rd seats for women.
  • Must be fixed tenure of 5 years and if dissolved, fresh election to be held within 6 months.

Three-tier Structure

Zila Parishad : It is at the district level of the Panchayati Raj System, in which members are directly elected. Adhyaksha or President is the chairperson of Zila Parishad who is the ex-officio member. Zila Parishad meetings are conducted once in a month. And are focused on development work in the whole district.

Panchayat Samiti:. It is the second tier of Panchayati system. It indicates all the activities of the Panchayats in a Block. It has 5 years term. Gram Pradhans are the ex officio members of Panchayat Samiti. The Panchayat Samiti is headed by the Block Development Officers (BDOs).

Gram Panchayat:. It is the basic village formal and democratic organisation which is structured at grass root level in the country. The members of the Gram Panchayat are elected by the Gram Sabha….where Gram Sabha access the general body of the Gram Panchayat.

Problems in Panchayati Raj System

The first and foremost problem of Panchayati Raj system is that it faces lack of finances or financial resources which create obstacle in the growth and development. There is also lack of awareness regarding the fulfillment of promise made by the authority. The failure of government machinery which holds the panchayat body. Also dirty politics is played which also promotes castism.

Conclusion And Suggestions

Mahatma Gandhi advocated Panchayat Raj as the foundation of the Indian political system. The Panchayati Raj system is the basic institution and  most effective administrative unit in our country.

This system gives the best example for the concept of cooperative federalism (basic structure of the Indian Constitution) that forms the well-being democratic government. However, there are lots of issues in this system which can be treated by taking effective measures as providing education and creating awareness in people; providing bank and insurance company which can tackle the financial problem. And also there is need for bottom up planning specially at the lowest level for its upliftment.