Jkssb preparation ,The salient features of the 73rd Amendment

The salient features of the 73rd Amendment can be presented as
under:


The Gram Sabha:
The act provides that a gram sabha will consist of persons registered
in the electoral rolls of a village within the area of a panchayat at the
village level. Thus, it is a village assembly consisting of all the
registered voters in the area of the panchayat. It exercises such
powers and performs such functions at the village level as the
legislature of a state determines.
The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee made no formal mention of the
gram sabha but the gram sabha was existing as a statutory body in
almost all the states. In states like Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan, all
the adult residents of a village or a group of villages are its members.
The membership of a gram sabha ranges from 250 to 5,000 and it
meets twice in a year. The sabha elects from among its members an
executive committee and the sarpanch presides over the meetings.
The budget, plans and programmes, audit reports and progress
reports of panchayats are placed before this popular body.
The Sadiq Ali Committee which reported about gram sabhas in
Rajasthan in 1964, pointed out the following weaknesses in their
working:
(1) Poor attendance, particularly of women.
(2) Absence of secretarial assistance, and
(3) Its meetings were not duly publicised.
(4) The illiteracy of villagers.
(5) The sarpanch avoided calling a meeting for fear of being
questioned.
(6) Meetings were held during the harvest season.
The apathy and non-attendance of villagers in gram sabha meeting
has been a major issue of criticism of PRIs. The Rajasthan state
constituted G.L. Vyas Committee in 1973 to rectify this
dysfunctionalism of the grass roots institution. The Vyas Committee
suggested:
(1) Compulsory attendance for the sarpanch in meetings.
(2) Statutory recognition of gram sabha.
(3) The tehsildar, the naib tehsildaar and the village school teachers
should encourage villagers to ask questions.
(4) The time of meetings to be May-June and January-December.
(5) Compulsory attendance of the patwari and VLW.
The activisation of gram sabha is a problem in all the states. Officials
attribute it to the apathy of rural folks while villagers complain that
meetings are manipulated and decisions are neither publically arrived
at nor accountability is fixed.
The 73rd Amendment has addressed itself to this ailment and has
provided the following for activisation of this core institution:
(1) Public problems of the village will be discussed and beneficiaries
of welfare programmes would be identified.
(2) The panchayat secretary will be the secretary of the sabha also.
(3) Two compulsory meetings otherwise the sarpanch will be asked to
quit.
(4) The quorum of meetings will be one-tenth of the total.
(5) Assistance to panchayat in the execution of rural development
schemes.
(6) Vigilance committee of the sabha will keep an eye on the
panchayats.
(7) The budget and programmes of the panchayat will keep the
suggestions of the sabha in view.
(8) A constitutional status to gram sabhas.
All this has improved the situation considerably. The research
indicates that it is not the apathy, but the feeling that their will is being
ignored, makes them absent in the meetings. Now as National Rural
Employment Guarantee Programme comes into operation, the
panchayat/ gram sabha secretary cannot afford to take grama sabha
meetings lightly.
The community has to identify and certify the list of beneficiaries and
this will generate sustained interest in the working of the gram sabha.
Government aid for national disasters like floods, famine, quakes,
etc., need rural support and people increasingly realised the
relevance and importance of grama sabha participation.

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