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Day 8 – Q 5.Panchayati raj system in India requires second-generation reforms to secure grassroots development through democratic grassroots governance. Comment. (Governance)

5. Panchayati Raj system in India requires second-generation reforms to secure grassroots development through democratic grassroots governance. Comment. 

लोकतांत्रिक जमीनी शासन के माध्यम से जमीनी विकास को सुरक्षित करने के लिए भारत में पंचायती राज व्यवस्था को दूसरी पीढ़ी के सुधारों की आवश्यकता है। टिप्पणी करें।


  • Introduction
  • Issues with Panchayati Raj system (PRI)
  • What second generation reforms should be?
  • Conclusion


It’s been 25 years since decentralised democratic governance was introduced in India by the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendments, which came into force on April 24 and June 1, 1993, respectively.

It initiated a process with standardised features such as elections every five years; reservations for historically marginalised communities and women; the creation of participatory institutions; the establishment of State Finance Commissions (SFCs), the creation of District Planning Committees (DPCs); and so on. These were the first-generation reforms.However, in some or the other way they have failed to meet the major objective of de-centralisation.


A systemic failure:

  • No perceptible hand-holding and support by the States (political class and the bureaucracy) to foster decentralised governance.
  • Dependency on state machinery for their functioning.
  • From the beginning, whether it was postponing elections or the failure to constitute SFCs and DPCs, it became evident that States can violate the various provisions of Parts IX and IXA with impunity.
  • The roles and responsibilities of local governments remain ill-defined despite activity mapping in several States except in Kerala.
  • States control funds, functions and functionaries, making autonomous governance almost impossible.
  • Most States continue to create parallel bodies (often fiefdoms of ministers and senior bureaucrats) that make inroads into the functional domain of local governments.
  • Increasing allocations to Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, or MPLADS, which started in 1993, and their State-level counterparts, known as the MLALADS, too has affected the local institutions.

Fiscal weakness of village panchayats:

  • Even after 25 years, local government expenditure as a percentage of total public-sector expenditure comprising Union, State and local governments is only around 7% as compared to 24% in Europe, 27% in North America and 55% in Denmark.
  • The own source revenue of local governments as a share of total public sector own source revenue is only a little over 2%.

Second generation reforms:

  • Effective devolution:
    The 2013 expert committee laid out in detail how to achieve this through the device of “activity mapping”.

It would involve clear identification of where competence, authority and accountability lie. Giving the Gram Panchayats the responsibilities of asset creation, operation, and maintenance, while involving it in the planning process through the Gram Sabha; giving the middle tiers responsibilities for human capital development; and giving higher levels of government the responsibility of policy, standards and monitoring of outcomes.

  • Activity maps should be incorporated in the guidelines of all centrally sponsored schemes.
  • The massive amounts of money earmarked for poverty alleviation should be sent directly to gram panchayat accounts.
  • Financial incentivisation of the states to encourage effective devolution to the panchayats of the three Fs — functions, finances, functionaries.
  • District planning based on grassroots inputs received from the village, intermediate and district levels through people’s participation in the gram and ward sabhas.
  • Social audit should be made a mandatory feature. This will ensure transparency and make the process much more participatory.
  • Empowerment of panchayat members, especially the women (so that they no more remain mere proxy for their male counterparts) through adeqaute training.


These above outlined steps might constitute a useful beginning for second-generation reforms to secure grassroots development through democratic grassroots governance.

It has taken a generation to get to where we have and we need perhaps another generation to achieve with satisfaction the evolution in grassroots governance and development.

Best answer: gargantuan

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