The Amendment Act has added part IX to the (1) Voting rights to MPs
and MLAs in these Constitution of India entitled as ‘Panchayats’. The
(2) Reservation for backward classes, 0. A new schedule called as
Eleventh Schedule lists(3) Financial powers,29 functional items that panchayats are
to deal with under Article 243-G. The basic(4) Autonomy of the panchayats,
andprovisions of the Act are divisible into compulsory (5) Devolution of powers to perform
functionsprovisions and voluntary arrangements. of the Eleventh Schedule and planning.The
provisions which the state statutes will The Eleventh Schedule of the Act enumerateshave to
provide for are: 29 subjects which fall in the purview of the(1) Creation of a State Elections
Commission panchayats. The Act has refrained from puttingto conduct elections to PRIs,
those into the Seventh Schedule of three lists for(2) In order to review the financial position
of the simple reason that states are free to determinethe PRIs, each state to set up a State
Finance the Panchayati Raj activities and adjust thisCommission for five years. Eleventh
Schedule as per situations and resources.(3) Tenure of PRIs fixed at five years and, if The
Schedule is quiet flexible and exhaustive.dissolved earlier, fresh elections to be held within
The PRI can make rules, regulations andsix months, administer them by creating services
and charging(4) Creation of a three-tier Panchayati Raj tax, cess, octroi, etc., in lieu of these
functionalstructure at the zila, block and village levels, services. The Tenth Finance
Commission suggested
(5) The minimum age for contesting elections grants-in-aid for the
local bodies from state to PRIs to be 18 years, exchequers to
supplement their efforts. The
(6) Reservation for women in panchayats panchayati institutions can
take policy decisions (chairman and members) up to one-third seats,
in the areas like land reform, ecology preservation,
(7) Reservation of seats for SC/ST in panchayats rural industries and
farming. The PR institutions (chairman and members) in proportion to
their have been accepted as the implementing agency population, of
the state governments.
(8) Indirect elections to the post of chairman The Eleventh Schedule
lists the following 29 at the intermediate and apex tiers, subjects:
(9) All posts at all levels (with two exceptions) Eleventh Schedule:
to be filled by direct elections, and (1) Agriculture including
agricultural extension.
(10) Organisation of gram sabhas. (2) Land improvement,
implementation of land
As local self-government is an item in the State reforms, land
consolidation and soil conser-vation. List, the state governments have
been given a (3) Minor irrigation, water management and reasonable
discretion to take decisions in the watershed development.
following areas. (4) Animal husbandry, dairying and poultry.
These voluntary provisions vary from state to (5) Fisheries.
state: (6) Social forestry and farm forestry. 33 (7) Minor forest produce.
(8) Small scale industries, including foodprocessing industries.
(9) Khadi, village and cottage industries.
(10) Rural housing.
(11) Drinking water.
(12) Fuel and fodder.
(13) Roads, culverts, bridges, ferries, waterways and other means of
(14) Rural electrification, including distribution of electricity.
(15) Non-conventional energy sources.
(16) Poverty alleviation programme.
(17) Education including primary and secondary schools.
(18) Technical training and vocational education.
(19) Adult and non-formal education.
(20) Libraries.
(21) Cultural activities.
(22) Markets and fairs.
(23) Health and sanitation, including hospitals, primary health centres
and dispensaries.
(24) Family welfare.
(25) Women and child development.
(26) Social welfare, including welfare of the handicapped and
mentally retarded.
(27) Welfare of the weaker sections, and in particular, of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
(28) Public distribution system.
(29) Maintenance of community assets.
The pre-1992 situation about PRIs was chaotic. Most of the states did
not bother about any uniform pattern. The partisan character of the
state governments viewed Panchayati Raj politics in terms of their
support structures or destabilising factors. In either case, they were
apprehensive of Union governments intervention or opposition parties
taking over Panchayati Raj bodies.
The votaries of Panchayati Raj were states like Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka, Gujarat and Kerala. While other states like Rajasthan,
West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab became lukewarm and less
enthusiastic about panchayat elections. States like Bihar, Haryana,
Orissa and Jammu and Kashmir viewed the change with scepticism.
Hence the Union government has to proceed with caution and the
amendment was designed to develop and keep the consensus in
basic areas of panchayati gover-nance.

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