Panacea of Panchayati Raj

By K.N. Pandita

No dispassionate observer can deny the credit to the state government for successfully reviving and conducting Panchayat elections after a gap of over four decades. Barring a few incidents of violence mostly emanating from personal vendetta, the elections throughout the state have been peaceful so far. The Omar Abdullah government can take the credit of making a successful attempt of restoring the confidence of the people in his government. This is the reason why he is emboldened to address larger and larger public gatherings at different places in the state especially in the remote parts of the valley. The Chief Minister is very right in saying that establishment of Panchayati Raj should foster big social and economic change in the state which has been reeling under disturbed conditions for last two decades.

The essential objective behind the introduction of Panchayati Raj is to empower the people at grassroots level. There has been a recurring complaint from civil society that its participation in building the nation and in decision making system has been considerably reduced and there is no buffer between the government and the disgruntled segments of society. The youth of the state had begun to lose trust in traditional old guard politicians and they are restive to see a change that really impacts their life and future course of history of the state. Panchayati Raj has opened doors for a variety of new and energized segments of society like experienced persons, women folks, well-educated youth, professionals, lawyers and other functionaries. Most of this valuable fund, crucial to good governance and to all round economic and industrial development of the state usually remained sidelined. This is national loss and cannot be accepted any more. Panchayati Raj provides a valuable and rare opportunity to all those who find in themselves the potential of contributing to the development of the state to come forward and be part of the huge developmental programme. Panchayati Raj is inherently the name of passing power or decision making authority into the hands of the people. The Panchayats are best suited to identify the requirements and aspirations of the people of respective localities of how they want to address the developmental work and on what projects. Thus it will be found that the views of the Panches will have a big say in deciding what projects are to be taken at what place.

Apart from the main objective of empowering the people at grassroots level, another important purpose that the Panchayats will serve is eradication of corruption. Corruption in its various forms is the most detestable phenomenon with which people are not going to make any compromise. Recent anti-corruption movements that have sprung in the country are supported by millions of people. This shows that people want that corruption should be uprooted lock, stock and barrel. And we have intricate laws, intricate legal system and a strong lobby with vested interests that are proving great hurdle in removing the scourge of corruption. Even courts find that prosecution of cases of corruption becomes unwieldy at times. Therefore the best panacea to these social aberrations is to nip the evil in the bud meaning not to give any opportunity to anybody at the very outset that would snowball into a big scam. Not only would the Panchayats serve as the sharp watchdogs over cases of corruption and perfidy but these would also serve as preventive instruments.

But with all said and done, and feeling satisfied that Panchayati Raj movement has to be the panacea of many ills, the crux of the issue is to equip the Panchayats with reasonable legal, financial and administrative powers so that these are able to make the delivery. It is good that elections to Panchayats have been on a non-party basis, but one cannot ignore the role of political parties willy-nilly in influencing the Panchayats. Some sort of safeguard will be needed to ensure that the Panches are not intimidated to take partisan view of issues and decisions. This asks for close and regular interaction between the government and the Panchayats so that a message goes to the public that Panchayats are an institution that protects and promotes interests of the people of the state.

Link: Panchayati Raj on Google Web-results.

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