Panchayati Raj


  • Panchayati Raj is an important feature of the Indian political system which ensures direct participation of people at the grass root level.
  • Though Panchayats have been in existence in India since ancient times, those were ignored and suffered set-back during the period of British rule.
  • After Independence, the framers of the Constitution decided to give them importance and directed the States to ‘organize village panchayats as units of self-government’.
  • The various state governments took steps to organize village panchayats as units of rural self-government. Greater importance was given to the panchayat system after adopting five-year plan and launching the Community Development Program.
  • In 1956, the National Development council appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Balwantrai G. Mehta to suggest measures for better working of the Community Development Program and the National Extension Service.
  • The Committee recommended in its report in 1957, a three-tier structure consisting of the village at the bottom, district at the top and an intermediary structure in between.
  • It also recommended genuine transfer of power and responsibility to these institutions and that all social and economic development programs be channelized through these.
  • The three-tier system of the Panchayati Raj was first adopted by the state of Rajasthan on 2nd October, 1959, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, UP and West Bangal. Gradually, the system was adopted by most of the states, even though it differed in matters of detail.