Women and Panchayati Raj System

Panchayati raj

  • In India, the Panchayati Raj generally refers to the system introduced by constitutional amendment in 1992, although it is based upon the traditional panchayat system of South Asia.
  • Mahatma Gandhi advocated Panchayati Raj as the foundation of India’s political system, as a decentralized form of government in which each village would be responsible for its own affairs.

Various committees on Panchayati Raj

  • Balwant Rai Mehta: established 1957
  • V.T. Krishnammachari: 1960
  • Takhatmal Jain Study Group: 1966
  • Ashok Mehta Committee: 1977
  • G.V.K. Rao Committee: 1985
  • Dr. L.M. Singhvi Committee: 1986.


The common departments in the Samiti are as follows

  • General Administration
  • Finance
  • Public Works
  • Agriculture
  • Health
  • Education
  • Social Welfare
  • Information Technology
  • Water Supply Department
  • Animal Husbandry and others

There is an officer for every department. A government-appointed Block Development Officer (BDO) is the executive officer to the Samiti and the chief of its administration, and is responsible for his work to the CEO of ZP.


  • Implementation of schemes for the development of agriculture and infrastructure.
  • Establishment of primary health centres and primary schools.
  • Supply of drinking water, drainage and construction/repair of roads.
  • Development of a cottage and small-scale industries, and the opening of cooperative societies.
  • Establishment of youth organisations.

Status of women in current Panchayati Raj

  • Reservation in at least 1/3rd of the seats of all Panchayat Councils and 1/3rd of the Pradhan (head of the Panchayat) positions for women.
  • This was followed by the 74th Amendment Act, 1992, which established similar reservations in Nagar Palikas & Municipalities. In addition, Bihar became the 1st state to reserve 50% of seats for women with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan & Himachal Pradesh following suit.
  • Today, 54% of elected representatives of PRIs in Bihar are women.
  • Numerically, today India can actually boast that there are more elected women representatives (EWRs) in India that the rest of the world put together.
  • According to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj’s mid-term appraisal of the ‘State of the Panchayats 2006-07’, there are about 10 lakh women are in our PRIs constituting about 37 % of all those elected. Also, there are about 80,000 female Pradhans.


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