Write a short essay (about 250-300 words) on the following:
Discuss the ways in which panchayats and village headmen regulated rural society.
Regulation of rural society by panchayats and headmen:-
1. Meaning of panchayat :- The village panchayat consisted of an assembly of elders, they represent different castes and communities except the menial class. Usually important were people of the village with hereditary right over their property.
2. General composition and function :- In the mixed caste village, the panchayat was usually a heterogeneous body. The panchayet represented different castes and communities in the village.The village panchayat was headed by Muqaddam also known as mandal. He was elected with consensus of the village elders and remained in the office till he enjoyed the confidence of village elders. His function was to prepare village account with the help of patwari.
- The main function of panchayat was to ensure that caste boundaries among the various communities inhabiting the village were upheld.
- It had also the authority to levy fines and taxes.
- It can also give punishment like expulsion from the community.
- Each Jati in the village had its own Jati panchayat. Jati Panchayat wielded considerable power in the society. In Rajasthan, the Jati panchayats arbitrated civil disputes between members of the different castes. It also mediated in disputes claims on land, decided whether marriages had been performed according to that castes norm, etc. In most cases, the state respected the decisions taken by the Jati Panchayat.
- The panchayats were also regarded as the court of appeal, that would ensure that the state carried out its moral responsibilities.
- For justice petitions were often made to the panchayat collectively by a group of caste or a community protesting against what they considered to be morally illegitimate demands on the part of elites.
- In cases of excessive revenue demands, the panchayat often suggested a compromise. If this failed, the peasants took recourse to more drastic forms of punishment such as deserting the village.