The Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs) have not been able to achieve the objectives for which they were given constitutional status even after 30 years. Enumerate the reasons behind the problem and suggest measures to tackle it.

The concept of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), as a form of local government has existed in India from centuries in one form or another. But it was given its present form by giving it a constitutional status by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act.

Objective behind establishment of PRIs:

  • Increase democratic participation.
  • Promote cooperation among people and decentralization.
  • Fulfil local needs and priorities in a better way by efficient use of local resources.
  • Greater accountability and transparency.
  • Bottom-up approach.

However, PRIs have been unable to achieve the dream of self-sufficient villages.
PRIs suffer from a number of problems that needs to be sorted out:

  • Lack of effective devolution of powers & authorities. PRIs come under state government and the scope of devolution depends on the discretion of respective states.
  • Ineffective financing and lack of autonomy. States have limited resources so they are hesitant to devolve their finances.
  • Poor financial management. Panchayat members often lack financial education to manage themselves and the practice of corruption is also prevalent.
  • Lack of trained supporting staff.
  • Culture of ‘Sarpanch Pati’.
  • Lack of infrastructure.

Measures needed:

  • Devolution of finances – own finance resources and freedom to use resources leads to need-based creation of assets and services etc.
  • Solving local problems need local taxation by PRIs.
  • Clear-cut demarcation of functions of each tier of the government.
  • Training of staff.
  • Financial literacy.
  • Financial independence also increases the capability of Panchayats to manage funds better. Also, it saves costs to the exchequer which may not understand local needs.

Way forward:

The PRIs are crucial for the socio-economic development of people at the grassroot level. Devolution of funds, functions, and functionaries to Panchayats is the need of hour.

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