The Ministry of Panchayati Raj is a part of the Government of India looking after the ongoing process of decentralization and local governance in the States.
In a federation, the powers and functions of the government are bifurcated among two governments. In India, it is the Union Government and the various State Governments. However, with the passing of 73rd and 74th amendment act of the Constitution of India, in 1993 the division of powers and functions have been further coming down to Local Self Governments (Panchayat at Village levels and Municipalities and Municipal Corporations in towns and large cities). As such India now has not two but three tier of Governments in its federal setup.
Ministry of Panchayati Raj looks into all issues concerning the Panchayati Raj and Panchayati Raj Institutions. It was created in May 2004. The ministry is led by a minister of cabinet rank. The ministry is currently headed by Narendra Singh Tomar.
Functions of the Ministry:
Ministry of Panchayati Raj is undertaken for the work of advocacy for and monitoring of the implementation of Constitution 73rd Amendment Act the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996. A New Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been made w.e.f. 27 May 2004. As per the amended allocation of Business Rules, “all matters relating to Panchayati Raj and Panchayati Raj Institutions” will be looked after by the newly formed Ministry. The State Governments/Union Territory Administrations, at current, are at varying degrees of the implementation of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts.
The Ministry, inter-alia, would ensure that they hold proper elections, set up State Finance Commissions and implement their recommendations, constitute District Planning Committees and empower them properly to ensure grass-roots level planning to feed into State and Central level Planning effectively. One main task of the Ministry will be to ensure that the State Governments/UT Administrations devolve funds, functions, and functionaries on the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the spirit of the Constitutional provisions.
The Ministry of Panchayati Raj will also be responsible for formulation and implementation of an Action Plan for looking PRIs to emerge as “Institutions of Local-Self Government” securing economic development and social justice in their respective areas.
Empowerment of Gram Sabhas by grasping regular Meetings and social audit through Gram Sabhas so as to enable them to emerge as the foundation of Panchayati Raj will be started vigorously with States/UT Administrations. Depending upon the local situation, States/UT Administrations will be promoted to institute Ward Sabhas and Mahila Sabhas and make them functional.
The Ministry attaches great mandate to the capacity building of elected representatives and officials of PRIs as well as functionaries involved in the Rural Development Programmes. It is calculated approx that about 3 million elected Members and the Staff assigned to the Elected Bodies need the training to enable them to discharge their functions Properly. The Ministry will also be funding research survey, workshops, and seminars for development of Panchayats. The Ministry will implement the project of “National Awards for Best Panchayats” to promote PR Institutions in discharging their role of “Institutions of Self-government” to be able to enforce economic development and social justice at the local level.