Democratic Politics (NTSE/Olympiad)  

2. Federalism

Powers and Responsibilities of Panchayats

Powers and responsibilities of Panchayats :
According to the constitution, Panchayats shall be given power and authority in relation to following matters.
(i) Preparation of plan for economic development and social justice for the village.
(ii) Implementation of schemes for economic development of the villages.
(iii) It will charge and collect all the due taxes, duties, tolls and fees.
Functions of Gram Sabha :
The Gram Sabha has a key role for effective functioning of the Panchayats. In the Gram Sabha meetings, the rural poor, the women and the marginalized people get the opportunity to join in decision making on matters affecting their lives.
Following are the functions of the Gram Sabha :
(i) Gram Sabha should meet at least once in each quarter preferably on Republic Day, Labour Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.
(ii) It should decide the developmental work which is to be carried out by Panchayats.
(iii) It should suggest remedial measures for economy and efficiency in the functioning of the Panchayats.
(iv) It should Question and examine the decisions of Panchayats in the meeting of Gram Sabha.
(v) It should discuss the Annual Financial Statement of Gram Panchayats, and examine the revenues and expenditures incurred.
Demerits of local self Government :
(i) Irregular Elections : In most states, elections to Panchayats are irregular and uncertain leading to monopoly of the previously elected powers.
(ii) Domination of Upper Caste : The Panchayati Raj system is mostly dominated by the rich farmers, money lenders and upper caste people. that is why the new Panchayati Raj Act provides for reservation for SCs and STs in proportion to their population.
(iii) Ignorance, Illiteracy and Poverty of the Villagers : Ignorance about the rights is high among the village. Also illiteracy and poverty of the people lead to less enthusiasm about the Panchayati Raj system.
(iv) Excessive official Control : District officials interfere unnecessarily in the working of the Panchayats and also dissolve it or suspend it according to their will.
(v) Lack of Adequate Funds : A lot of money is needed for the developmental activities and the sources of income are limited. This leads to ill – functioning of the Panchayat system.

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