[Polity] Panchayat Raj Institutions

The PRI system was evolved out of Community Development Programme, which was introduced in 1952. Then in 1953 the National Extension Service was introduced for supporting further the socio-economic development in rural areas. But within few years it was realized that these programmes did not deliver expected results.

1957-Balwantrai Mehta Committee

This was constituted for inquiring economy and efficiency and suggest other measures for reorganizing CDP. The committee saw that there waslow level of activity upner this programme. And it has suggested the following,
  • Three tier system – Village level, block level and Zilla level.
  • Giving statutory status to these institutions.
Accepting these suggestion, in Rajasthan at Nagaur village this PR system was implemented. And then slowly adopted by most of the other states also.
But these institutions were also failed due to their non-performance.

1977-Ashok Mehta committee

This committee was constituted for inquiring the status of PRIs and suggesting measures to improve them. The committee has given some 132 recommendations. The committee said that the reason foe decline of PRIs is “Lack of adequate financial resources”. And suggested the following,
  • Two tier System of Panchayat Raj
  • Zilla parishad-the executive body responsible for district level planning.
  • Official participation of political parties
  • In case of suspension, election should be held within 6 months.
  • Resrervation for SC/STs
  • A minister for Panchayat Raj should be there in state government.
Some of the state governments accepted few suggestions and modified their system.

1985-GVK Rao committee

This committee is constituted for reviewing administrative arrangement for rural development and poverty alleviation programme. This committee gave following recommendations,
District be the basic unit of policy planning and programmeimplementation.
  • Regular election for PRIs.
  • The local bodies should be given important role in planning, implementation and monitoring of rural development programmes.
  • State level planning transferred to district level planning.

1986-LM Singhvi committee

This committee was constituted for suggesting the approach for “How the PRIs could be given constitutional status”. And it give some of the following recommendations,
  • Re-organisation of villages.
  • Allocation of more financial resources.
  • PRIs should be naturally facilitate people’s particiaption.

Sarkaria Commission

This commission was inquiring about federal structure and centre-state relations.
But anyway this commission had made a comment on PRIs. That is, the local bodies are not functioning effectively, because elections to these bodies were super-ceded and also the Panchayat Raj laws are not uniform across the states.

PK Thungon Committee

This is a sub-committee to the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and pensions. This committee was to consider the type political and administrative structure needed for district planning. It has recommended that,
  • Constitutional provision for regular elections and 5 years term for the local bodies.
  • Zilla Parishad should be the only planning and development agency in district.
  • State-level planning coordination committee under chairmanship ofPM and the presidents of Zilla Parishad be the members.

Committee on Policy Programmes – VN Gadgil

This is constituted by Indian National Congress for examining “how best PRIs could be made effective?”. This committee has recommended that,
  • Three tier PRI system.
  • Reservation for SC/ST and women for better representation.
  • Five year terms for PRIs.
  • Constitution of state finance commission.


All the above stated committees and commissions have shapped the present day PRI institutions. The present system is based on following principles,
  • Three tier structure of local self-governing bodies : village-level, block-level, district-level.
  • Adequate financial resources should be transferred to these bodies.
  • Genuine transfer of power and responsibility.
  • Developmemnt programmes at these levels should be channelled through these bodies.

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