Shafiq R Khan

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Panchayti Raj in Haryana

Panchayti Raj institutions have important and leading roll in Devlopment of Haryana. It was carved out of the state of Punjab in 1966 in name of tribes (casts) of agricultural orientation.

Haryana is primarily an agrarian state. And panchayats have a major role in life cycle of Haryana people, concept of Panchayats and community mobilization is quite old phenomenon in haryana.
Taj-ul-Maasir (588 A.H. 1192 AD) refers these institutions like khap panchayat.

In samvat 1252 (1195 AD) a meeting of Sarva Khap Panchayat (Federal clan council of the Jats and other kindred people of Upper Doab, Haryana and neighbourng areas) was held in a forest between the villages of Bhoju and Banera under the chairmanship of Rao Vijay Rao of the village, Sisauli. And this meeting decided among others to raise a big militia “to defend the Sarva Khap area against a suspected attack by Muhammad Ghori and to protect the area from loot and plunder. (Kanha Ram (Hindi Ms.) in possession of Chaudhary Qabul Singh of Shoram Muzaffarnagar])
There is another reference of a panchayat
“A Sarva Khap Panchayat meeting was held in samvat 1455 (1338 AD) in forest of Chugama under the president ship of Dev Pal Rana. It passed the resolutions that they should “vacate the villages, sending the children and women to the forests and that the able-bodied persons should take up arms and destroy the army of Timur. (G.C. Dwivedi, The Jats, Their role in the Mughal Empire, Delhi, Ed Dr Vir Singh, 2003, p. 11)”
The traditional accounts of the Jats record that on many occasions the Sarva Khap Panchayats and others met to express its deep resentment against the administrative oppression, unjust restrictions and humiliating exactions on ground of discrimination.
In modern India, Haryana is a traditional and rural society and they still believe in community level settlements. That is why Panchayat institutions are very powerful. But there is some conflict between traditional setups and government institution, but development works are screened by panchayats and community.
The Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 (Act Number 11 of 1994) was enforced w.e.f. 22.04.1994. The objective of this act is to provide for constitution of Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads for Development and public participation in administration of the rural areas of Haryana.
Drinking water supply system in a village of haryana
Gram Panchayat: consists of a Sarpanch elected by Gram Sabha from amongst its voters and 6 to 12 Panches from wards in the Panchayat area.
Block Panchayat: consists of a Chairman and a Vice Chairman, directly elected members from territorial constituencies as determined under section 58 of the act, the members of Haryana Legislative Assembly representing constituencies, which comprise wholly or partly in the Panchayat panchayat.
Zila Prishad: Consists of members directly elected from the wards in the districts, Chairman of all Panchayat Samitis within the district, ex officio members, the members of the House of People, Haryana Legislative Assembly whose constituency lies within the district or part thereof, ex officio member, a President and Vice President.
On administrative side, Directorate of Development and Panchayat is headed by Director and having District Development & Panchayat Officers [DDPO] at District level and Block Development & Panchayat Officers [BDPO] at Block level and Panchayat Sachiv at Gram Panchayat.
Sources of Revenue of PRIs
The main source of income of Gram Panchayats is the lease money of land ponds and other properties of panchayat. The cultivable land of Gram Panchayats is given on lease every year and income received from this source is utilized on development works of village by Gram Panchayats.
Gram Panchayat is powerful body, sarpanch have practical right to inspect every department which is notified and working in gram panchayat. No scheme or work can implemented without consent of Sarpanch or Gram Panchayat.
Mostly Gram panchayat receive direct funds from State finance commission or other concerned departments. And they also have own income from various source, funding and powers of gram panchayats are highly admirable, and sarpanch are implementing there role in development and administration of villages.
Block Panchayat is a deemed institution, most of Block samiti members even BDPO were confused about the role of Block samiti members. Elected representative of BP have no active role in any development or administrative work. Even there is no coordination between BP and other notified Departments who are liable to PRIs. Most of schemes have own mechanism and BP level ERs have no role in implementation or planning process. They have evaluation rights but it is not practiced in field. BDPO is CEO of BP and they have active role in Block, in most of block BDPO is nodal officer and every activity is determined with the consent of BDPO but not of Block Panchayat.
As an administrator BDPO is responsible for every activity and fund utilization in gram panchayats.
Mgnrega data entry unit in a block 

District Panchayat is a planning body and their works are satisfactory but it is a example of failure self-government system. Most of schemes and other development works are done by concerned department with the help of bureaucrats of DP. Elected representatives are not aware about their basic duties and rights. In Mahendragarh every information and accounts or schemes can accessed with consent of ADC office. Even DDPO and staff of zila parishad are not aware about basic information. Karnal iis in same situation. District Panchayat members are member of different committees. They have evaluationa and inspection rights but it is not applicable in field. Fund allocation to gram panchayats is screened by ADC office and DRDA. DP can distribute their own fund. District panchayats of Karnal and mahendragarh are directly implementing some projects with the help of concerned gram panchayat.

Social conditions: Challenges and conflict

Women Reservation:
In the given social milieu it is the rural rich who continue to hold the levers of socio-economic power. They get their womenfolk elected on seats reserved for women while they themselves continue to function as de-facto representatives with impunity. Sarcastically called as Sarpanch Pati or Panch Pati, these proxy men are being unhesitantly entertained at all administrative levels as elected representatives. The government has never issued instructions to discourage this open fraud and clear cut offense of impersonation. There is a need of a clear cut notification and ensure the literacy and power trainings for EWRs.
Meeting board in BDPO chamber in kanina of mahendragarh 
Mukesh devi upper cast woman is the member of Block Panchayat Ateli, Mahendragarh from a woman reserved seat she is an example convening the condition of women as puppet in the hands of their husband. She is not aware about her basic duties and rights as a vice- chairperson of block. It was first time when she came to Block office. She does not participate in the meetings of block panchayat and there are not any special educational and CB modules being provided from government to improve the condition of women.

Another interesting example is Sarpanch Nisha Rani (SC women seat) from Danoli village of Asandh block in Karnal district whose condition is also not different from the other EWRs. We could not even understand till her husband Santosh singh himself told us that his wife is the real Sarpanch of the village. BDPO of aasandh recommend us that Santosh singh is Sarpanch of Danauli village and you can visit him. Even Panchayat Sachiv Girmeet singh was posing like santosh is sarpanch of village. Even some people from same village are not aware about sarpanch of village. In a FGD we came to know that Nisha rani is only a puppet and all the powers are being yielded by her husband she does not come out from her Home. And here we also got an idea of community among whom most of the population does not keep good opinion about those women who try to assert their rights.

SC Reservation
poverty still exists in Haryana 
Most of the dalit sapanches are sought to be remote controlled by influential people upon whom they have to remain dependent due to various compulsions. In the event of defiance or self assertion by a dalit sarpanch , the panchayat is virtually made defunct by unique methods. Panches belonging to upper caste would tactically stay away from the officially convened meetings which then can not take place for want of required quorum. Instances of public humiliation and even physical intimidation of dalit sapanches, including of women, have often been reported in the media. A sarpanch Ratanlal of aghihar gaon of kanina block (Mahendergarh) is being exploited by upper cast Panchs. He is understood to have been eliminated by the village upper caste vested interests while the administration remained totally unmoved.
Ratanlal has no cooperation from other panchs because of cast discrimination and lack of support from block officials. Gram sachiv is supporter of ex Sarpanch who is from a dominating cast. he face a non-confidence motion last year and he won that motion but his supporter panchs can’t stand with him. Ex.Sarpanch and panchayat sachiv always try to create obstructions in his way like they do not sign on proposals of gram sabha. They even create trap and send false complaints to the BDPO offices to remove him from his position.
Control of Bureaucracy
The bureaucracy continues to dominate most of the affairs of panchayats so much so that the proceeding register of most of the gram panchayats and their accounts books are kept by the panchayat secretary,
youths are really enthusiastic about
participation in local governance
In most of case they bypassed the elected structure. The mandatory gram sabha meetings provided in the Act are never convened. Even formal meetings of gram panchayats are seldom held. More often, signatures of the members are obtained on individual basis. There is an increasing tendency of diversion of funds provided for social welfare schemes meant for the weaker sections to other populist works. More and more cases of corruption and financial misappropriation have surfaced time and again during recent years.
Most of the elected panchayat members are still working within the traditional mode as far as the functions and areas of activities are concerned. These are mainly confined to digging of ponds, construction of roads, auctioning of village common lands for cultivation etc. while key aspects of village life in the social domain like health, education, sports, food security, managing potable water, sanitation (including drainage), housing, environment (including forestry), social justice and cultural affairs remain still untouched by the panchayats.
Absence of toilet facilities for women continues to be the most haunting problem. There is also the issue of giving residential plots for the landless. Until these problems are addressed within and even outside the panchayat system from the angle of dalits, women and the youth, neither the panchayats become participatory nor these ignored sections could be empowered in any significant way.
In the case of Karnal, a formal stocktaking is yet to be undertaken in this regard at the level of the government. Some efforts in terms of training etc., though, have been there at an informal level during the recent years, particularly in the area of orienting elected women panchayat representatives for making their personal participation possible in the first place. However, even such half-hearted efforts have been found lacking in case of those coming from dalit background in general and dalit women in particular as a distinct category.

Social Reforms
Paradoxically, the traditional caste panchayats known as Gotra Khap panchayats still continue to prevail in many social matters and quite often these outdated institutions are even found acting either in tandem with the elected panchayats or in some cases ignoring them totally in order to enforce traditional codes. Illegal Khap panchayats are issuing ‘Judicial orders; awarding penalties either in the forms of fines, social boycott or excommunicating innocent persons from the village. Existence of these traditional institutions with the tacit support of mainstream political class and the State apparatus continues to be a significant impediment in the independent functioning of panchayati raj institutions.
Therefore, apart from the need for social reform campaigns targeting caste and gender discrimination to create more sensitive environment for the marginalised sections, some kind of accountability mechanism for the panchayats should also be evolved, particularly in cases of atrocities and crimes perpetrated on vulnerable sections.
administration was very cooperative during evaluation study 
Percolation of the democratic element of the Panchayati Raj 73rd amendment, especially in relation to dalits and women, is yet to be achieved at implementation level for various reasons as dealt above. Last but not the least, it is a fact that democratic decentralisation of power in any significant manner shall be a distant dream without providing a share for the downtrodden in economic resources. Radical measures, like creation of employment avenues and drive for female literacy and civic sense for the development or public participation.
Nevertheless, it should not be inferred that nothing is changing or that there has not been any positive impact of the reservations for dalits, women and other backward sections. On the contrary, elected representatives belonging to these sections supported by inputs and training, have steadily begun to aspire and assert for an independent role for themselves individually and collectively. The potential for such a role of theirs should be positively channelised through awareness campaigns and skill upgradation of the elected persons to develop their effective participatory role.
So it is high time that a critical evaluation is undertaken for identifying grey areas and an intervention is made towards achieving real decentralisation even while reorienting these institutions in favour of social justice and development goals.

(Evaluation study of “Panchayati Raj institutions in Haryana” with www.taru.org)
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