Ministry of Panchayati Raj
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In a federation the powers and functions of the government are divided among two governments. In India it is the Union Government and the various State Governments. However with the passage of 73rd and 74th amendment act of the Constitution of India, in 1993 the division of powers and functions have been further trickled down to Local Self Governments (Panchayat at Village levels and Municipalities and Municipal Corporations in towns&large cities). As such India now has not two but three tier of Governments in its federal setup.
Ministry of Panchayati Raj looks into all matters relating of Panchayati Raj and Panchayati Raj Institutions. It was created in May 2004. The ministry is headed by a minister of cabinet rank. The ministry is headed by Ch. Birender Singh.
Functions of the Ministry
Ministry of Panchayati Raj is responsible for the work of advocacy for and monitoring of the implementation of Constitution 73rd Amendment Act the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996. A New Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been created w.e.f. 27 May 2004. As per the amended allocation of Business Rules, "all matters relating of Panchayati Raj and Panchayati Raj Institutions" will be looked after by the newly created Ministry. The State governments/Union Territory Administrations, at present, are at varying degrees of the implementation of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts. The Ministry, inter-alia, would ensure that they hold timely elections, set up State Finance Commissions and implement their recommendations, constitute District Planning Committees and empower them suitably to ensure grass-root level planning to feed into State and Central level Planning effectively. One major task of the Ministry will be to ensure that the State Governments/UT Administrations devolve funds, functions and functionaries on the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the spirit of the Constitutional provisions.
The Ministry of Panchayati Raj will also be responsible for formulation and implementation of an Action Plan for seeing PRIs to emerge as "Institutions of Local-Self Government" securing economic development and social justice in their respective areas.
Empowerment of Gram Sabhas by holding regular Meetings and social audit through Gram Sabhas so as to enable them to emerge as foundation of Panchayati Raj will be pursued vigorously with States/UT Administrations. Depending upon the local situation, States/UT Administrations will be encouraged to institute Ward Sabhas and Mahila Sabhas and make them functional.
The Ministry attaches great importance to the capacity building of elected representatives and officials of PRIs as well as functionaries involved in the Rural Development Programmes. It is estimated that about 3 million elected Members and the Staff assigned to the Elected Bodies needs training to enable them to discharge their functions effectively. The Ministry will also be funding research studies, workshops and seminars for development of Panchayats. The Ministry will implement the scheme of "National Awards for Best Panchayats" to encourage PR Institutions in discharging their role of "Institutions of Self-government" to be able to enforce economic development and social justice at the local level.