The Panchayati Raj system is being weakened

Pankaj chaturvedi Sun, 28 Aug 2016

The Panchayati Raj system is being weakened

It appears Modi government is working to weaken the Panchayati Raj System slowly in the country. Whereas it has been clearly laid down in the Constitution that the three-tier system should be strengthened in the country. But, it if the government decides to let anything decay, who was stop it.

A lot of work was done to strengthen this system during the Prime Ministership of Rajiv Gandhi. To achieve this goal only the 73rd and 74th Amendment Bills were passed so that the Constitution framed by Baba Saheb Ambedkar could be shaped up in toto. So that the role of the panchayati system based on three layered governance in the country could be established.

It was Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who had first thought of setting up a Panchayati Raj. Bapu always talked of Gram Rajya to Ram Rajya. The meaning was clear that unless the voice of the village representative does not resonate to those sitting in the Parliament making policies, the full benefits of the programmes could not reach out to those living in villages. In my perception, it was what Mahatma Gandhi had thought of Swaraj. Due to this concept of Gandhi on Swaraj, attempts were made to strengthen all institutions associated with the Panchayati Raj through 73rd Amendments.

During last regimes, special attentions were given to three issues Fund, Function and Functionaries. It was ascertained at the level of Indian government that to enhance the capabilities of Panchayati Raj System, more funds are given to it. For this, Rs. 11,270 crores were earmarked under the 12th Five Year Plan under the “Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan”. But it was greatly slashed. In this period of ‘Niti Ayog’, Modi government’s actions weakening the policy associated with Mahatma Gandhi is surprising. Particularly, when Mahatma Gandhi himself is the brand-Ambassador of Modiji “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.”

Last government had also provided for ‘Backward Region Grant’ to reach out to the remotest parts of the Panchayat the financial support. But Modiji asked the money to be transferred from the central government to state governments under the 14th Finance Commission. It’s clear that Modiji wanted to get rid of this responsibility and transfer it to the state government.

The amount of 11270 crore, which had been sanctioned under Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan”, the reason behind the grant was to train the reserved class, which includes women too, of the total 27 lakh representatives in about two lakh Panchayats, and to strengthen the units of Panchayati Raj through the trained people.

Today we are talking about 21st century, it is essential for us to strengthen the representatives of the Panchayats and provide strength to e-governance. Unless we strengthen the three tier system, no one can afford to end the gap between India and Bharat. We will have to associate people who have not been a part of power at any level as representatives. This goal can be achieved only through strengthening the Panchayat Raj System not by weakening it. But presently, Panchayat Raj has been allocated only 90 crores and out of this only 60 crore is for “Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan”. Even out of 60 crores, 10 crores are for the North-East region, this way only 50 crores remain for the whole country; how is it possible to strengthen those institutions?

The effort was made during the Congress government that the way the development of the state is the responsibility of the
state government like, opening schools, hospitals, building roads etc., similarly it is equally important that the Chief of Panchayat Samiti, Sila Pramukh, Sarpanch of the Panchayat etc. should have information of each Ministry, otherwise without knowledge and information, no development of the country through Panchayati Raj is possible. The representatives of the Panchayat must also know every effort being made by the Panchayat. But unfortunately, it’s Modi government itself, which is hindering every effort being made in this direction. Now, every small as well as a big programme and policy have direct bearing on the Panchayati Raj, whether one believes it or not! Despite, understanding all these Modi government is not looking so alert and careful. If Modi government continued to take such decisions it will not be very long when “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” will become the ‘Jumla’, another slogan. These are serious issues of concerns for the strong future of the country. What was needed is that 27 lakh representatives elected through Panchayats should have been given training in the e-governance. The need of the hour is that 2 lakh representatives should be
connected through internet. It is essential so that representative should be able to develop a new definition of development and a new thought of growth. But it can’t be achieved by cutting the financial resources to be given to the Panchayat Raj.