ENVIS Technical Report: 90,  April 2015
1Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, 2Centre for Sustainable Technologies (astra)
3 Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning [CiSTUP], Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka, 560 012, India
Web: http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/energy E Mail: cestvr@ces.iisc.ernet.in; ganesh@ces.iisc.ernet.in Tel: 91-080-22933099, 2293 3503 extn 101, 107, 114
4Adamya Chetana, Annapoorna - Bangalore, Community Hall, Kempegowda Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560019 Tel: 080 2662 0404, E Mail: tejaswini.acf@gmail.com
5 R K Mission, Shivanahalli, Anekal, Bangalore, E Mail: vishnumayananda@gmail.com

*Corresponding author: cestvr@ces.iisc.ernet.in


The Country - A Village: India is a country of villages, where more the 68% of the total population reside in over 5.97 lakhs of villages. As Mahatma said, ‘India lives in its villages’ or ‘India’s soul is in villages’, which is the backbone of Indian culture, heritage and economy. The references of the villages as ‘Sabha’ is found in the time of Rig-Veda, which was the grass root level governing system. Agriculture is practiced in the country from antiquity (from Harappa Civilization) where, communities settled and civilized structure of villages evolved. The social, economic and scientific developments in these communities helped in the growth of such villages and also has become the building block of civilizations. However, even after the collapse of such progressed civilizations, villages continued to exist and flourish through rich heritage and traditional practices.

Villages are the effective decentralised independent governing bodies which were introduced during colonial rule (though evidences are found in Indian empires such as Mughal, Vijayanagar, Mauryas etc. and also way back in Vedic period). A cluster is formed with the surrounding villages/hamlets possessing similar cultural and agricultural practices called a Gram (or Grama), which was supervised by the representative (elected from citizens of the Gram with appointed officials by the ruler) to have the effective and unbiased governance. After Independence, committee lead by Balwant Rai Mehta (Committee Chairman) in 1957, recommended 3 tier decentralised governing bodies for the country. Further, in 1958 Government of India established Gram Panchayat in villages level, Taluk (or Block) Panchayat in taluk level and Zilla Parishad (or Panchayat) in district level, a 3 level Panchayat Raj governing system in the country. Rajasthan was the first state to implement Panchayat Raj system, which eventually adopted by all the states in 1950s and 60s. The Amendment Act 1992, is a milestone in Panchayat Raj system, which provided a constitutional status and also power and responsibilities to implement 29 subjects in relation with socio-economic development.

The Panchayath act came into effect in 1994, on the basis of 73rd and 74th amendments of the constitution for local self governance with decentralised power and responsibilities. This provided constitutional mandate to restructure and revamp local bodies with constitutional obligations and sufficient powers and functions as per Schedule XI of the act. The local self-government through gram sabhas play a vital role in the formulation of policy and its implementation at grass root levels.  The Gram Pancayat is a very old governing system in the country which essentially formed to establish an effective governance and development of the region using locally available resources. Eventually, this concept has evolved to Gram Swaraj or self-governing village in Gandhi’s era, whose vision was to develop self-sustained villages which are the building blocks of the stronger country. This concept was subsequently reframed and the concept of ‘model village’ is introduced in the early 21st century, realising towards ‘Smart Villages’ as a robust economy to build a developed nation. The bottom-up development approach is an effective and quick method gives impetus to the county’s economy which also develops self-reliant nucleus.



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