Evolution of Local Governance in India

Why was the rural administration called panchayat?

The term ‘panchayat’ comes from the Sanskrit words ‘panch’ (meaning five) and ‘ayat’ (meaning assembly). It refers to a local self-governing body that involves five members or representatives. The rural administration was referred to as ‘panchayat’ because it represented a system where decisions and governance matters in a village or rural area were collectively managed by a council of five members or elders, focusing on community-based decision-making and local issues. This concept is deeply rooted in traditional Indian governance structures and was formalized as part of the decentralized rural administration system in India.

List the major features of the montagu-chelmsforf reform act 1919?

The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, also known as the Government of India Act 1919, introduced significant changes to the British colonial administration in India. Some of the major features of the Act include:

  1. Diarchy in Provinces: The Act introduced a system of diarchy in the provincial governments, where the subjects were divided into reserved and transferred lists. Reserved subjects remained under the direct control of the Governor and his Executive Council, while transferred subjects were managed by ministers responsible to the legislative council. This marked a limited form of self-government at the provincial level.
  2. Bicameral Legislature: The Act provided for the establishment of a bicameral legislature at the provincial level, consisting of a Legislative Council and a Legislative Assembly. The majority of the members of both houses were to be elected, although the franchise was limited and property-based.
  3. Reforms at Central Level: The Act expanded the legislative councils at the central level and introduced a limited form of central legislative authority. However, the central legislature remained largely advisory in nature, without significant control over central subjects.
  4. Separation of Powers: The Act introduced a separation between the executive and legislative functions of the provincial government. While the Governor retained certain powers, including the ability to veto legislation, ministers were responsible for the transferred subjects and legislative assembly.
  5. Reforms in Central Services: The Act established the principle of recruiting Indians into the civil services, though British officers still held key positions. It aimed to gradually increase Indian representation in administrative services.
  6. Devolution of Powers: The Act aimed at gradually increasing participation of Indians in government while ensuring British control. It was intended as a transitional step towards self-governance and prepared the groundwork for further constitutional developments.
  7. Franchise Reforms: While the Act didn’t introduce universal adult suffrage, it did expand the franchise to some extent, allowing a larger number of Indians to participate in the electoral process.
  8. Separate Electorates: The Act retained the system of separate electorates for Muslims, as introduced in the earlier Morley-Minto Reforms, which provided reserved seats for Muslims in legislative body.

What was the main objective for setting up the balwant Rai Mehta committee?

The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee was set up with the main objective of studying and recommending reforms for the decentralization of rural local governance in India. The committee was established in 1957 by the Government of India and was named after its chairman, Shri Balwant Rai Mehta, who was a prominent Indian politician and social worker.

The primary focus of the committee was to examine the existing system of local administration and recommend ways to strengthen and empower local self-government institutions at the grassroots level. The committee’s recommendations aimed to improve the participation of local communities in decision-making, enhance accountability, and promote effective governance in rural areas.

The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee’s report, submitted in 1957, proposed a three-tier structure of Panchayati Raj institutions – Village Panchayats at the lowest level, followed by Intermediate or Block Panchayats, and District Panchayats at the highest level. These recommendations played a significant role in shaping the subsequent Panchayati Raj system in India, which aimed to decentralize power and responsibilities, empowering local communities to manage their own affairs and development needs.

Write a short note on lord ripon’s role in the development of local self government in India?

Lord Ripon, also known as George Robinson, served as the Viceroy of India from 1880 to 1884 and played a pivotal role in the development of local self-government in the country. His tenure is particularly associated with the introduction of important reforms that laid the foundation for grassroots democracy and local governance.

Lord Ripon’s contributions to the development of local self-government in India include:

  1. Local Self-Government Acts (1882): Lord Ripon introduced the Local Self-Government Acts in 1882, also known as the Ripon Resolution. These acts aimed to grant municipalities the power to manage their own local affairs and finances. This marked a significant departure from the earlier centralized administration, empowering local communities to have a say in matters affecting them directly.
  2. Decentralization of Power: Lord Ripon’s policies focused on decentralizing power by allowing elected representatives to manage local affairs. This paved the way for the growth of local institutions, enhancing the role of Indians in governance and administration.
  3. Elected Indian Representatives: Under Lord Ripon’s reforms, municipal committees were to have a majority of elected Indian representatives. This move was aimed at promoting greater Indian participation in decision-making processes at the local level.
  4. Revenue Generation: Lord Ripon’s reforms granted municipalities greater control over local revenue generation and expenditure. This enabled them to collect taxes and fees, as well as allocate funds for local infrastructure and services.
  5. Education and Healthcare: His administration worked to improve education and healthcare at the local level. Municipalities were given the responsibility to manage schools and healthcare facilities, reflecting a commitment to social development.
  6. Public Services: The Local Self-Government Acts introduced by Lord Ripon sought to ensure that public services were provided efficiently and effectively at the local level, leading to better governance and administration.

When did the British set up the decentralization committee?

The British set up the Decentralization Committee, officially known as the ‘Central Decentralization Committee,’ in 1907 during the colonial rule in India. The committee was formed to examine and make recommendations regarding the decentralization of administrative and financial powers in British India. It was part of the broader efforts by the British administration to improve governance and administration in the country.

The Decentralization Committee was chaired by Ralph Milner, a British civil servant, and included other members with administrative experience. The committee’s objective was to study the existing administrative structure and suggest ways to delegate more authority and decision-making powers to local governments and institutions.

The recommendations of the committee were presented in its report, known as the ‘Milner-Mehta Report,’ which was submitted in 1919. The report proposed measures to strengthen local self-government, enhance rural administration, and empower local bodies to manage their own affairs. While the recommendations weren’t fully implemented at the time, they contributed to the discourse on decentralization and local governance in India, influencing subsequent reforms and discussions on administrative changes.

Write a short note on the scope of the vasatrao Naik committee

The Vasant Rao Naik Committee, also known as the Committee on Panchayati Raj and Administrative Reforms, was appointed in 1977 by the Government of India to examine and make recommendations on various aspects of Panchayati Raj institutions and administrative reforms. The committee’s scope was quite comprehensive and covered a range of issues related to rural governance and administration. Some key areas within the scope of the committee’s work included:

  1. Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs): The committee assessed the functioning and effectiveness of Panchayati Raj institutions, which were meant to be local self-governance bodies at the grassroots level. It examined their structure, powers, functions, and performance.
  2. Decentralization of Power: The committee focused on the decentralization of administrative and financial powers to local bodies. It aimed to determine the extent to which decision-making authority could be transferred from higher levels of government to Panchayati Raj institutions.
  3. Empowerment of PRIs: The scope included evaluating measures to empower Panchayati Raj institutions to effectively address local developmental needs, manage resources, and provide essential services to rural communities.
  4. Coordination and Integration: The committee looked into ways to coordinate and integrate the efforts of different levels of government – central, state, and local – to ensure efficient and coherent governance.
  5. Administrative Reforms: In addition to Panchayati Raj, the committee examined broader administrative reforms to improve governance in rural areas. This included assessing the functioning of government departments, administrative procedures, and the delivery of public services.
  6. Fiscal Devolution: The committee explored options for devolving financial resources to Panchayati Raj institutions, enabling them to function effectively and carry out developmental activities.
  7. Participation and Representation: The committee studied methods to encourage greater participation of marginalized sections of society, including women and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in the decision-making processes of Panchayati Raj institutions.
  8. Capacity Building: The scope included recommendations for building the capacity of Panchayati Raj institutions and their members, ensuring that they have the skills and knowledge required to fulfill their roles.

Write a short note on the structure of panchayats as stated in Article-243(c)

Article 243(c) of the Indian Constitution outlines the structure of Panchayats in rural areas. It mandates a three-tier system, consisting of:

  1. Gram Panchayat: The first level, the Gram Panchayat, is at the village level. It is responsible for local governance and development activities within its jurisdiction. It comprises elected representatives from the village, headed by a Sarpanch.
  2. Panchayat Samiti: The intermediate level, the Panchayat Samiti, operates at the block or tehsil level. It coordinates the activities of the Gram Panchayats within its area and supervises their work. It is composed of elected members from different Gram Panchayats and is headed by a Chairperson.
  3. Zila Parishad: At the district level, the Zila Parishad oversees the work of the Panchayat Samitis and coordinates development activities across the district. It includes elected representatives from all Panchayat Samitis within the district and is headed by a Chairperson.

Briefly mention the establishment of finance commission as per Article-243(I)?

Article 243(I) of the Indian Constitution provides for the establishment of a State Finance Commission for every State. The purpose of the State Finance Commission is to review the financial position of Panchayats and make recommendations regarding the distribution of financial resources between the State Government and Panchayats. The Commission’s recommendations are aimed at ensuring an adequate and appropriate allocation of funds to Panchayats, allowing them to carry out their functions effectively and independently. This provision helps in strengthening the financial autonomy of Panchayats and promoting their effective functioning at the grassroots level.

What is the eligibility for gram sabha membership?

The eligibility criteria for membership in a Gram Sabha can vary slightly from state to state in India, as Gram Sabhas are governed by state-level Panchayati Raj Acts. However, in general, the eligibility criteria for Gram Sabha membership include:

  • Residency: The individual must be a resident of the village where the Gram Sabha is being held.
  • Age: There is usually a minimum age requirement to become a member of the Gram Sabha, often set at 18 years or older.
  • Citizenship: The person should be an Indian citizen.
  • Voter Registration: In many cases, the person should be a registered voter in the village’s local body elections.
  • No Criminal Record: Some states might have provisions that individuals with a criminal record are not eligible for Gram Sabha membership.
  • Sound Mind: The person should be of sound mind and not disqualified by any legal provisions.
  • Gender Equality: Most states have provisions to ensure gender representation, aiming for equal participation of both men and women.

Who is the secretary of the gram Panchayat?

The secretary of a Gram Panchayat is a government-appointed official responsible for administrative and executive functions within the Gram Panchayat. The role and title of the secretary can vary from state to state within India, but generally, they are known as the ‘Gram Panchayat Secretary’ or ‘Panchayat Development Officer.’ This individual assists in the implementation of various government schemes, maintains records, facilitates meetings, and supports the overall functioning of the Gram Panchayat.