Discuss three challenges faced by Panchayati Raj institutions in India.
The experience with the functioning of local government in the past few years has shown certain challenges in India. They enjoy limited autonomy to perform the functions assigned to them. Many states have not yet transferred most of the subjects of the local bodies. This means that local bodies cannot really function in an effective manner. Therefore, the entire exercise of electing so many representatives becomes symbolic. Some people criticize the formation of the local bodies because this has not changed the way in. which decisions are taken at the central and the state level. People at the local level do not enjoy many powers of choosing welfare programs or allocation of resources.
The three challenges faced by Panchayati Raj institutions in India are as follows :
One of the biggest hurdles in front of the smooth working of Panchayati Raj is in the form of a scarcity of funds. Panchayati Raj has restricted powers in relation to imposing taxes and cess. State Govern¬ment also offer very little financial support. Usually, they are not eager to raise the funds on account of losing popularity among the public.
Undemocratic Composition :
Most of the Panchayati Raj institutions are not based on democratic rules and principles. Due to indirect election of the members of Panchayat Samiti leads to the cropping of corruption and bribery. The Zilla Parishad also comprises mainly ex-officio members which are mostly government officials. It is against democratic principles.
Incompatibility between the three-tiers :
The three-tiers fail to work as functional authorities. The higher structures are likely to treat the lower structure as subordinates. There are hierarchy and domination. The absence of a mutual relationship is against the true spirit of democratic decentralization.
Despite the Constitution providing the details of the functions and powers of the Panchayati Raj institutions, there are glaring loopholes that must be plugged as soon as possible.
Adequate devolution of powers: States should take proper steps to decentralize funds, functions, and functionaries to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) to empower them in the discharge of functions. Furthermore, it is important to make available, enough resources to the PRIs to complete the responsibilities. Many Gram Panchayats even lack a permanent Secretary for handling the paperwork. Thus, manpower and infrastructure both have to be upgraded for monitoring and planning the schemes. Although there is a provision of computing facilities being provided to the PRIs, only 20- percent of Gram Panchayats actually have computers and even fewer have the know-how to operate them.
Proper Bureaucratic control: Sarpanchs of Gram Panchayats have to spend a lot of time in the Block Offices to ask for funds and approval. Thus, these checks and balances, that make the Sarpanchs insubordinate to the other officials and waste time and efforts, should be controlled to make the process smoother and faster. At times, due to loose bureaucratic control, many parallel offices are created for certain schemes that lead to more corruption and evil malpractices. Thus, this control has to be given to the PRIs who know their villages far better than other individuals.
Making funds available: Social audits are less likely to be organized as the PRIs depend on the governments for funding. Resources should be made available to the Panchayats and audits must be done to ensure proper usage of funds and quicker implementation of schemes. A considerable amount of funds should also be spent on educating the PRI personnel about their duties, roles, and responsibilities. If they do not know the schemes and programs of the government properly then, they would not be able to implement them as well.