India celebrates National Panchayati Raj Day every year on 24 April to honour the establishment of the Panchayati Raj System.

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  • This year (2024) marks the 31st anniversary of National Panchayati Raj Day. 
  • In 2024, there won’t be a particular theme for the National Panchayati Raj Day in India, as the Ministry of Panchayati Raj will host a national colloquium on ‘Governance at the Grassroots after Three Decades of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment’ at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi to mark the celebration of the day.
  • On this Day, the government recognises the best-performing Panchayats across India for their outstanding efforts to improve the lives of rural households

About Panchayati Raj System (PRI)

  • PRI is a system of rural local self-government in India
  • By the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992, which came into effect on April 24, 1993, gave constitutional status to PRI.
  • It added a new Part IX to the constitution titled “The Panchayats” covering provisions from Articles 243 to 243(O) and a new Eleventh Schedule covering 29 subjects within the functions of the Panchayats.
  • Article 40 of the Indian constitution: the State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.
  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj created in May 2004 is a branch of the Government of India looking after the ongoing process of decentralisation and local governance in the States.

Historical background

  • Mayo’s resolution of 1870 impeded local institutions’ development by enlarging their powers and responsibilities.
  • In 1882, Lord Ripon introduced an important Local Self–Government Resolution. 
  • It provided for local boards consisting of a large majority of elected non-official members and presided over by a non-official chairperson, considered to be the “Magna–Carta” of local democracy in India.

Post-Independence Period:

  • In 1957, the National Development Council constituted a committee headed by Balwant Rai Mehta to look into the working of community development programs.
  • The committee suggested three-tier PRIs, Grama Panchayats (GPs) at the village level, Panchayat Samiti (PSs) at the block level, and Zilla Parishad (ZPs) at the district level.
  • Consequently, Bagdari Village, Nagaur District became the first village where Gram Panchayat was established, on 2 October 1959. 
  • Ashok Mehta Committee in 1977: recommended a two-tier Panchayat Raj institutional.
  • Other important committees are the Hanumantha Rao Committee (1983), G.V.K. Rao Committee (1985), L.M.Singhvi Committee (1986) and the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations (1988), P.K. Thungan Committee (1989). 

Significance of National Panchayati Raj Day

  • Effective local administration is necessary for India to achieve inclusive growth and address problems like climate change and rural-urban migration. 
  • PRIs are in a good position to ensure fair and sustainable development at the local level and respond to local demands.
  • The Panchayat Raj system helped uplift the people in rural areas by providing them a space to voice their opinions and be a part of development and empowerment.

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