PANCHAYATI RAJ SYSTEM
• A process through which people participate in their own government.
• The Panchayati Raj system is the first tier or level of democratic government.
• It functions at three levels:
Zila Parishad: The Zila parishad or District Panchayat is the highest level of Panchayati Raj system.
Panchayat Samiti: The Panchayat Samiti functions at the block level under the Zila Parishad.
Gram Panchayat: Under the Panchayat Samiti there are many Gram Panchayats that comprise Panchs and Sarpanchs at village level.
• The Gram Sabha is a meeting of all adults who live in the area covered by a Panchayat.
• This could be only one village or a few villages.
• Anyone who is 18 years old or more and who has the right to vote is a member of the Gram Sabha.
Functions of Gram Sabha
• It is the place where all plans for the work of the Gram Panchayat are placed before the people.
• It prevents the Panchayat from doing wrong things like misusing money or favouring certain people.
• It keeps an eye on the elected representatives and in making them responsible to the persons who elected them.
• It is the executive wing of the Gram Sabha.
• Every village Panchayat is divided into wards, i.e. smaller areas.
→ Each ward elects a representative who is known as the Ward Member (Panch).
• All the members of the Gram Sabha also elect a Sarpanch who is the Panchayat President.
• The Ward Panchs and the Sarpanch form the Gram Panchayat.
→ The Gram Panchayat is elected for five years.
• The Gram Panchayat has a Secretary who is not an elected person but is appointed by the government.
→ The Secretary is responsible for calling the meeting of the Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat and keeping a record of the proceedings.
Functions of Gram Panchayat
• The construction and maintenance of water sources, roads, drainage, school buildings and other common property resources.
• Levying and collecting local taxes.
• Executing government schemes related to generating employment in the village.
Sources of funds for the Panchayat
• Collection of taxes on houses, market places etc.
• Government scheme funds received through various departments of the government – through the Janpad and Zila Panchayats.
• Donations for community works etc.