Strengthening Grassroots Democracy

Empowering PRI Institutions in the Last Four Years
Strengthening Grassroots Democracy
Wikimedia/ Annarao1111

Shcin Bali

In the past four years, significant strides have been made in strengthening grassroots democracy through the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in India. Transparent and fair elections were conducted in 2019-20, resulting in the election of about 33,000 representatives across all tiers of PRIs in 20 districts, covering 4291 panchayats.

To bolster the infrastructure of PRIs, 20 District Development Council (DDC) and 48 Block Development Council (BDC) office buildings are under construction, aiming to provide better facilities and support for local governance.

Recognising the importance of capacity-building, a massive exercise was undertaken, equating to over 6 lakhs man-days, to empower all PRIs. Around 6,000 Elected Representatives were also sent on exposure visits to other states and prestigious institutes to gain insights into effective governance practices. Furthermore, a plan to send 10,000 more representatives on such visits is underway for the current year.

Empowering PRIs at the local level, the power to grant building permissions in certain areas has been delegated to the panchayats. Additionally, all Panchayats have been e-enabled, streamlining communication and administrative processes.

Recognising the dedication of elected representatives, monthly honorariums are being provided to representatives from all three tiers of Panchayati Raj, ensuring financial stability and incentivising their commitment to public service.

Addressing security concerns, an ex-gratia compensation is provided to the next of kin of elected representatives in the event of loss of life due to militancy-related incidents, safeguarding their families and encouraging their participation.

To facilitate effective planning and implementation, Panchayat Prabhari Officers have been nominated for all 4291 Panchayats, enhancing coordination and support at the grassroots level.

Promoting excellence, 23 Panchayats were awarded at the UT level for their exemplary work, fostering healthy competition and inspiring further progress.

Infrastructure development continues, with more than 2500 Panchayats having Panchayat Ghar, and a plan to construct 500 more during the current year, providing essential community spaces for local governance and activities.

Recognising the significance of renewable energy, 1131 Gram Panchayats are being solarised, ensuring uninterrupted power supply and internet connectivity, thereby facilitating communication and development.

In line with capacity-building efforts, 1889 Posts of Panchayat Accounts Assistant were created and filled up through the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB), enhancing financial management and accountability.

Acknowledging the efforts of PRIs, 22 Panchayats received national-level awards since 2018, with an additional 3 Panchayats being recognised this year, highlighting their contributions to the nation.

The successful implementation of the 73rd Constitution Amendment Act in 2018 was a crucial step towards decentralisation and financial empowerment of PRI institutions across all tiers, fostering local governance and development.

In conclusion, the last four years have witnessed remarkable progress in strengthening grassroots democracy through PRIs. The efforts towards transparency, capacity-building, infrastructure development, and recognition have empowered these institutions to play a pivotal role in local governance, paving the way for inclusive and sustainable development across the nation.

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