Explain the Development of the Panchayat Raj system since Independence

Article 40

  • Article 40 came to be incorporated in the Constitution, as part of the Directive Principles of the State policy (Part –IV) of the Constitution of India adopted on Nov. 26th 1949.
  • Art. 40 States that, “the state shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government”

Directive Principles of the State Policy

  • In compliance with the provisions of the Directive Principles of the State Policy, an ambitious rural sector initiative, the Community Development Programme was launched in 1952 with the main focus of securing social- economic transformations of village through people’s own democratic and cooperative organizations with the government providing technical services, supply and credit.

National Extensions Service

  • This programme was extended to most of the blocks as the National Extensions Service aimed at transferring scientific and technical knowledge to agricultural, animal husbandry and rural craft sectors.

The Second Five-Year Plan

  • In 1956, under the Second Five Year Plan, (1956-1961), it was recommended that village panchayats should organically link with popular organizations at higher levels and in stages, the popular body should take over the whole administration.

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee

  • In 1957, the Government of India appointed a Committee on Plan Projects under the Chairmanship of Balwant Rai Mehta.
  • The Mehta Committee recommended two points namely, the administration should be decentralized and the administration should be placed under the control of local bodies.
  • Secondly, the community development blocks should be designed as administrative democratic units with an elected Panchayat Union to operate as a fulcrum of developmental activity in the area.


  • The formation of District Development Councils (Zila Parishad) at the district level consisting of all the Presidents of the Panchayat Unions (Samities)
  • Member of legislative assemblies and Members of Parliament with district level officers of the public health, agriculture, veterinary and education departments as members and the collector as the chairman.
  • The district body is only an advisory body.

Ashoka Mehta Committee

  • In 1977, the Government of India formed a committee under the chairmanship of Ashoka Mehta to go in to the working of the Panchayati Raj bodies and suggest measures to strengthen it.
  • It recommended that Panchayati Raj should emerge as the system of democratic local government, discharging developmental, municipal and ultimate regulatory functions.
  • Hence the first recommendation was to set up district Panchayat (Zilla Parishad) as the directly elected body.
  • As a temporary arrangement, the committee recommended continuation of the Panchayat union at the block level.
  • Not as a unit of local self-government but as a nominated middle level support arm for the District Development Council.

Other committees

  • A number of committees were formed between 1978 and 1986, to look into various aspects of strengthening the local self-government institutions, such as, C.H.Hanumantha Rao Committee, G.V.K Rao Committee and L.M.Singhvi Committee.
  • Only minor changes were suggested by these committees from the Ashok Mehta committee, The next land mark was the introduction of 64th and 65th Constitutional Amendment Bills, in July 1989 by Rajiv Gandhi government, which could not be passed in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha).
  • After many attempts, in 1992, incorporating important features of earlier exercises on this subject, the government drafted and introduced the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment bills in Parliament in 1992 which was passed by the Indian Parliament in 1993.

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments

  • The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments introduced new parts IX and IXA in the Indian Constitution containing Articles 243to 243 ZG.

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