ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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New Initiatives for Democratic Decentralisation in Haryana

The 73rd amendment to the Constitution has given a new lease of life to panchayati raj institutions in terms of the continuity of regular elections and certainty for their permanent existence. But the strength of these institutions has been left to the apathy of the state government. The political leaders and bureaucracy did not allow the institutions of self-governance to grow by granting them the desired functions, finance and functionaries. However, the present government in power in the state has delegated several schemes to strengthen these institutions.


The views expressed in the article are personal.

Although Haryana had panchayats in the pre-British days, called bhaichara panchayats (that is, community councils), they did not have any popular base at the local level. In the late 1930s, some initiatives were taken towards discharging judicial functions by the panchayats. In 1952, the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act was enacted to further democratise the local institutions. However, there was very little progress in this regard. In 1961, after amending the Gram Panchayats Act, a three-tier structure (gram panchayat, panchayat samiti, and zilla parishad) was adopted. This was based on the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee’s model of decentralised governance. After the creation of Haryana as a separate state in 1966, there followed a period of about two and half decades in which these institutions remained merely on paper. The unfriendly attitude of the political leaders was so high that even in 1973, the zilla parishads were abolished on the grounds of unclear distribution of power between zilla parishad and panchayat samiti. However, the main factor responsible for their dismal performance has been the lukewarm attitude of the state-level political leaders and officials towards panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) (Pal 1994: 1842).

This article, after providing a critique of decentralisation in Haryana, presents fresh initiatives which have been taken by the present government for the empowerment of PRIs in the state. This is followed by a section on the future course of action towards empowering these institutions.

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Updated On : 23rd Oct, 2021
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