Democratic Decentralization through Panchayati Raj in Contemporary India: The Changes and Challenges
This paper seeks to make a critical review of the current status of the constitionalised panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in India as institutions of self government and as instruments of planning for economic development and social justice in the light of empirical evidence collected by the researchers and critical analysis of the some of the actions of state . The background of the rise of the "new" panchayat system has been narrated in a nut shell to enable the readers to have an idea of the conceptual and institutional framework of the panchayat system Keeping the central objective in mind the article focuses on the challenges faced by the third generation PRIs in India from within and without and attempts to make an assessment about the future of these institutions. Reference has been made to the experience of some of the states in order to support the comments and observations. The article argues that despite the constitutional amendment to regenerate the PRIs there is still lack of genuine and strong political interest and bureaucratic support to fuel the institutions. These have been manifested in the actions of the state after the constitution has been amended. The traditional factors rooted in the socio-economic structure and political dynamics of the rural society continue to plague the working of these democratic institutions. It has been contended that there is need for another round of constitutional amendment coupled with continuous political and administrative support to ensure steady growth of the PRIs. The author finds a ray of hope in the rise of civil society organizations which have started acting as watchdogs in some of the states. They are working not only for generating awareness among the stakeholders but also for organizing the villagers to assert their rights and in this respect, the right to information has come as great boon.
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