The Panchayati Raj: Three-Tier System of Governance in Rural India

· The basic concept of Panchayati Raj is the villagers should think, decide and act in their own socio economic interest. Thus the Panchayati raj Act is related to village self governance. 
· In 1956, the National Development Council appointed a committee under Balwant Rai Mehta, which submitted its report in 1957.
· On the recommendations of Balwant Rai Mehta committee Panchayati Raj was introduced in 1959 as a three tier structure of self government.
· Panchayati Raj consists of: 
1.  Village-level Panchayats
2.  Block-level Panchayats 
3.  District-level Panchayats.

Village Panchayat:
·In the structure of the Panchayati Raj, the Village Panchayat is the lowest unit. There is a Panchayat for each village or a group of villages in case the population of these villages happens to be too small. 
·Gram Sabha, a general body of villagers, consists of all the adults residing within the jurisdiction of the Panchayat. 
·The Panchayat is accountable for all its actions to the Gram Sabha, 
·The Panchayat chiefly consists of representatives elected by the people of the village.
·Chairman is elected from among its members, known as ‘Sarpanch’.
·Sarpanch is an ex-officio member of the Panchayat Samiti and participates in its decision-making as well as in the election of the Pradhan and of the members of various Standing Committees.

Block & Panchayat Samiti:
·Panchayat Samiti is a local government body at the tahsil (taluka) level.
·It works for the villages of the tahsil that together are called a Development Block.
·The Panchayat Samiti is the link between the Gram Panchayat (village council) and the zila parishad (district board).
·There are a number of variations in the name of this institution in the various states. For example, it is known as Mandal Praja Parishad in Andhra Pradesh, Taluka Panchayat in Gujarat, and Mandal Panchayat in Karnataka.
·The block, consisting of 20-60 villages, administered through a Panchayat Samiti, consisting of indirectly elected members of village panchayat.
·The chairman of Panchayat Samiti is called ‘Pradhan’.
Zila Parishad:
·Panchayat is the third and top of 3 tier of the Panchayati Raj system.
·Zila Parishad is an elected body.
·Chairpersons or Block Pramukh of Block Samitis are also represented in Zila Parishad.
·The members of the State Legislature and the members of the Parliament of India are members of the Zila Parishad.

The panchayats receive funds from three sources:
1.  Local body grants, as recommended by the Central Finance Commission.
2.  Funds for implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes.
3.  Funds released by the state governments on the recommendations of the State Finance Commissions.
The 3 – tier system of Panchayat Raj was 1st adopted by Rajasthan ( Nagaur District) on Oct 2, 1959,  followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, UP & West Bengal.
Term of Panchayat is 5 Years

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