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[op-ed snap] Evaluating the panchayati raj institutions at 25

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 73th Amendment(read the attached story)

Mains level: A brief examination and introspection on panchayati raj system.


News

Context

  1. Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the 73th Amendment, a good time for some examination and introspection on panchayati raj
  2. Panchayati raj institutions(PRIs) are simultaneously a remarkable success and a staggering failure

25 years of panchayati raj institutions: A success or a failure?

  1. If the goal was to create another layer of government and political representation at the grass-roots level, then there is no parallel to the PRIs
  2. And if the goal was to provide better governance, then PRIs are a failure and not equipped to succeed anytime in the foreseeable future

Greater representation for women

  1. There are about 250,000 PRIs and urban local bodies, and over three million elected local government representatives
  2. The 73rd and 74th Amendments required that no less than one-third of the total seats in local bodies should be reserved for women
  3. At 1.4 million, India has the most women in elected positions. Seats and sarpanch/pradhan positions were also reserved for SC/ST candidates
  4. While India has always had reservations for elected representatives from disadvantaged groups like SC/STs, this is the only level of government with reservation for women

On all other margins except representation, PRIs are either a failure or a series of missed opportunities
The first failure: Very little devolution of authority

  1. The transfer of various governance functions—like the provision of education, health, sanitation, and water was not mandated
  2. Instead the amendment listed the functions that could be transferred, and left it to the state legislature to actually devolve functions
  3. There has been very little devolution of authority and functions in the last 25 years
  4. PRIs cannot govern unless they are given the authority to actually perform functions related to governance

The second failure: The lack of finances for PRIs

  1. Local governments can either raise their own revenue through local taxes or receive intergovernmental transfers
  2. The 73th Amendment recognized both forms of public finance, but did not mandate either
  3. The power to tax, even for subjects falling within the purview of PRIs, has to be specifically authorized by the state legislature
  4. The 73rd Amendment let this be a choice open to the state legislatures—a choice that most states have not exercised
  5. The constitutional amendment created provisions for State Finance Commissions to recommend the revenue share between state and local governments
  6. However, these are merely recommendations and the state governments are not bound by them
  7. As a result, PRIs are so starved for funds that they are often unable to meet even payroll obligations
  8. They are reluctant to take on projects that require any meaningful financial outlay, and are often unable to solve even the most basic local governance needs

What should be done?

  1. The only long-term solution is to foster genuine fiscal federalism
  2. where PRIs raise a large portion of their own revenue and face hard budget constraints, i.e. fiscal autonomy accompanied by fiscal responsibility
  3. Without the functions and finances, PRIs will only be an expensive failure

[pib] Rashtriya Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rashtriya Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan, National Panchayati Raj Day

Mains level: Local governance and issues related to it


News:

  • The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will launch the Rashtriya Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan from Mandla in Madhya Pradesh on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day.
  • The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan will strengthen the Panchayati Raj system across the country and address critical gaps that constrain its success.

RGSA seeks to:

  • Enhance capacities and effectiveness of Panchayats and the Gram Sabhas;
  • Enable democratic decision-making and accountability in Panchayats and promote people’s participation;
  • Strengthen the institutional structure for knowledge creation and capacity building of Panchayats;
  • Promote devolution of powers and responsibilities to Panchayats according to the spirit of the Constitution and PESA Act;
  • Strengthen Gram Sabhas to function effectively as the basic forum of people’s participation, transparency and accountability within the Panchayat system;
  • Create and strengthen democratic local self-government in areas where Panchayats do not exist;
  • Strengthen the constitutionally mandated framework on which Panchayats are founded.

National Panchayati Raj Day

  • It is the national day of India celebrated by Ministry of Panchayati Raj on 24 April annually.
  • Then Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh inaugurated the first National Panchayati Raj Day in 2010.
  • It is on this day The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 that came into force.
  • This date thus marks a defining moment in the history of decentralization of political power to the grassroots level. 

Prime Minister to launch ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday’ campaign

  1. News: The Centre, in collaboration with States and panchayats, will launch a 11-day, nation-wide village self-governance campaign.
  2. Aim: To improve rural livelihoods and strengthening the Panchayati Raj across the country,
  3. It will begin on April 14 from Mhow in MP, on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
  4. Activities: A social harmony programme along with village farmer assemblies will be held in gram panchayats, focussing on agriculture and farmers

50% quota for women in panchayats planned

  1. Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj would be pushing a Constitutional amendment for PRIs
  2. It seeks to increase the reservation for women in panchayats from 33% to 50% in the budget session of Parliament
  3. Already, States like MP, HP, Bihar and Uttarakhand have provided 50% reservation to women in panchayats
  4. It would also bring changes in the law to reserve a particular ward for women for 2 terms of five years each
  5. This will ensure that they can undertake developmental activities in a continued fashion

Newly-formed Panchayats get HC Axe

  1. Kerala High Court quashed the notifications creating new panchayats by carving out parts of existing villages without notification by the Governor.
  2. According to Article 243 (g) of the Constitution, a village can come into existence only after a notification by the Governor.
  3. No panchayat can be formed without first conferring the status of a village to an area where the panchayat is to be formed.


:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







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