# Gist of Yojana November 2021: Panchayati Raj

Yojana Magazine is an important source of material for the UPSC exam. The monthly magazine provides details of major government schemes and programmes in various domains. Moreover, coming from the government, it is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Yojana, exclusively for the IAS Exam.

1. Making Gram Sabhas Vibrant
2. Journey of Panchayats
3. Financial Devolution
4. Incentivisation of Panchayats
5. Svamitva Scheme
6. Gram Panchayat Development Plans
7. Water Management and Rural Planning
8. Localizing SDGs for Panchayats
9. ISO Certified Gram Panchayats
10. Digital Local Governance
11. People’s Plan
12. IEC Activities in Panchayats


Chapter 1: Making Gram Sabhas Vibrant

What is Gram Sabha?

• Gram Sabha is a decentralised participatory democracy’s structured base.
• A Gram Sabha is a body made up of all the people listed on the electoral records for a village in the Panchayat region at the local level.
• Gram Sabha is the Panchayati Raj system’s only permanent entity, whose powers and functions are set by law by the state legislature.

73rd Constitutional Amendment Act 1993

• The 73rd Amendment 1993 added a new Part IX to the Constitution titled “The Panchayats”.
• It proposed to add a new Part relating to Panchayats in the Constitution to provide Gram Sabha in a village.
• Article 243:- This article defines “Gram Sabha” as a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to a village within the area of Panchayat at the village level.
• Article 243A: – A Gram Sabha may exercise such powers and perform such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.

Read more on Panchayati Raj and the 73rd Amendment in the link.

Functions of Gram Sabha

A vibrant Grama Sabha is necessary for Village Panchayats to function effectively, as it promotes openness and accountability in administration, increases public engagement in the development and execution of projects, and paves the way for social audit.

Functions of Gram Sabha

1. Implementation of the development programmes and schemes.
2. Identify beneficiaries for different programmes and schemes.
3. Support the programmes of mass education and family welfare.
4. Promote unity and harmony among all sections of the society in the village.
5. Discuss and recommend appropriate action with regard to reports of the Vigilance Committee.
6. Levy of taxes, rates, rents & fees & enhancement of rates thereof.
7. To consider all such matters as may be referred to by the Gram Panchayat for its decision.
8. The Secretary of the Gram Panchayat will identify the public works to be undertaken under the Panchayat grants.

Issues with Gram Sabha:

• Gram Sabhas are currently not functioning well enough to play an important role in the development of a strong Indian democracy.
• The lack of public participation, lack of awareness among elected representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions, ritualistic conduct of Gram Sabha meetings, poor information communication, sparse attendance at Gram Sabha meetings, and a lack of clear understanding among the people are the main reasons for the Gram Sabha’s inefficient functioning.

Case Study:

• Dadera Gram Panchayat, Pura Block, Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh has set an excellent example of water conservation and rainwater harvesting.
• When citizens raised concerns about abandoned wells, clogged drains, Gram sabha decided to take focused measures towards water conservation and rainwater harvesting.
• Different initiatives were taken under Jal Shakti Abhiyan such as the digging of ponds, greywater harvesting, etc. This led to the fulfilment of agricultural needs and the replenishment of depleting groundwater levels.

Recommendations to Increase the Efficiency of Gram Sabhas:

• Ensuring periodic gram panchayats: Gram Sabha meetings should be held at regular intervals so as to have at least 6 to 12 meetings every year.
• Formulating and Distributing Agenda Taken Report (ATR): Gram Sabha should always be prepared with a coherent agenda. Also, the Agenda Taken Report (ATR) should be presented for the previous minute.
• Preparing Annual Calendar: All the Gram Panchayats in the state should have their annual calendar to facilitate the spreading of information about the working of Gram Sabhas.
• Effective Scheduling: The Gram Sabha meetings should be scheduled effectively such that only selected gram panchayats in particular clusters go for Gram Sabha meetings on that day.
• Organizing Sabhas at a Convenient Time: Timing of the Gram Sabha meetings should be convenient for the village population to attend in large numbers.
• Administrative Presence: Ensuring attendance of Group A and Group B officers in all Gram Sabha meetings will lead to the grievance redressal in a time-bound manner.
• Augmenting People’s Participation in Gram Sabhas: Maximum participation of eligible citizens in Gram Sabha must be ensured by setting a minimum 10% quorum and digital means of participation such as video conferencing.
• Incentivising Ward Members/Elected Members: Suitable remuneration should be provided to the ward members/elected representatives for their services.

Chapter 2: Journey of Panchayats

Significant Aspects of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)

E-governance mechanisms in Panchayats:

• The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has created a robust set of apps to cover a variety of areas of Panchayati Raj operations, including decentralized planning, budgeting, accounting, and money transfer. The apps have now been consolidated into a single, user-friendly platform known as eGramSwaraj.

Bottom-up Planning:

• Several initiatives have been launched by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the states to enhance PRIs. Emphasis on e-governance, capacity building, and an information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign are among them.
• To fill the gap between local infrastructure and other developmental necessities, the Backward Regions Grants Fund (BRGF) initiative was introduced in specified backward districts.

Capacity building of PRIs:

• The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA) scheme was established to help PRIs grow and expand their capacity to meet local development requirements. Panchayats are being rewarded with prizes and cash incentives for their excellent planning and service performance.

Devolution of Funds, Functions and Functionaries (3Fs)

• MoPR has been working with states to realize the aspirations of constitutional provisions on various aspects such as financial autonomy, utilization of development funds, functions and functionaries, etc. Panchayats need to reorient towards these areas to implement structural changes in rural areas.

Ways to Strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)

1. Effective implementation of innovative programmes like eGramSwaraj and the MoPR’s social audit under ePanchyatas to improve PRI efficiency, transparency, and accountability.
2. Empower Panchayats to levy and collect taxes, tolls, fees, and user charges in order to diversify their revenue sources.
3. Scale holistic planning employing spatial technology, taking into account resource availability and future development sectors.
4. Climate action plans should be considered as an intrinsic aspect of planning and renewable energy should be utilised by panchayats. For example, the Odanthurai Gram Panchayat in Tamil Nadu has demonstrated leadership by harvesting wind energy and generating Rs.19 lakh per year.
5. The gradual devolution of functions, money, and functionaries (3Fs) to PRIs needs special attention.
6. The Panchayati Raj and other flagship programmes of the Central and State governments should explicitly define the Panchayati Raj’s function in its guidelines.

Conclusion:

The MoPR has come a long way toward strengthening PRIs and achieving local self-governance goals. Further, the PRIs ought to be strengthened to accomplish the mandate of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in order to ease the life of 65% of the population in India.

Chapter 3: Financial Devolution

What is Financial Devolution?

• Devolution of budgetary power and duties from the federal government and state governments to the third tier of elected local government is known as financial devolution.
• The state legislature has given the PRIs the authority to charge, collect, and appropriate various taxes, duties, tolls, and fees, among other things.

Financial Powers Granted to PRIs:

1. Article 243-I: This article mandates the setting up of the State Finance Commission (SFC) every five years. SFC is required to make recommendations towards the improvement of panchayat finances through fiscal devolution.
2. Article 280(3)(bb): Under this article, the Central Finance Commission (CFC) is required to make recommendations to augment the Consolidated Fund of State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats in the States.

Central Finance Commission Recommendations

1. Tenth Finance Commission – Recommendations for devolution to Rural Local Bodies (RLBs).
2. Thirteenth Finance Commission – In a radical departure from awarding a small lump sum to the PRIs, this commission has awarded a percentage of the divisible pool. Basic Grant: 1.5% and Performance Grant 0.5% in the first year.
3. Fourteenth Finance Commission – The commission recommends increasing the tax devolution of the divisible pool to states to 42% for the years 2015 to 2020.
4. Fifteenth Finance Commission –  It has recommended maintaining the vertical devolution at 41% – the same as in its interim report for 2020-21. More on the Fifteenth Finance Commission in the link.

Finances of Rural Local bodies (RLBs):

• Rural local governments have the authority to collect taxes in order to fund their own operations. However, the monies raised from their own sources are insufficient.
• As a result, the government (both federal and state) devotes a portion of its tax funds to rural local governments to satisfy their requirements.
• Articles 243(I) and 243(Y) of the Indian Constitution, as amended by the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts, established a State Finance Commission in each state.
• Sources of Revenue of Rural Local Bodies: Local Cess, Local Cess Surcharge, Surcharge on Stamp Duty, Entertainment tax, seigniorage fees and lease amount of mines and minerals, and sale income of Social Forestry plants are the principal sources of assigned/shared revenues to rural local bodies.

Actions to Strengthen the Rural Local Bodies:

1. Updation of PRIs Acts to simplify financial devolution.
2. Better assessment of properties required for levying property tax.
3. Relook on various exemptions.
4. Augmentation of tax administration structure.
5. Technology-based tax augmentation.

Conclusion:

The structure of the Indian Panchayati raj system is built on the principle of democratic decentralisation. No democratic system can continue unless adequate money is provided to meet the fundamental needs of the rural community through local initiatives.

Chapter 4: Incentivisation of Panchayats

Incentivisation of Panchayats

• It is important to incentivize Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to motivate them to perform their role optimally.
• Due recognition of PRIs that perform their role well can be done for the following reasons:
1. to improve PRI performance,
2. to bring the issue of PRI performance into prominence and focus the attention of policymakers,
3. to encourage State Governments/Union Territory (UT) Administration to develop their systems of assessment.

Categories of Awards

 Scheme Description Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (DDUPSP) This award is granted to the best performing Panchayats in the General category at all three levels/tiers (District, Intermediate, and Gram). Panchayat Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme (PEAIS) It is a Central Sector Scheme aiming at  – Incentivizing states to devolve finances, functions, and functionaries (3Fs) to Panchayats. Incentivizing Panchayats to establish accountability systems to make their operations transparent and efficient. Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA) Scheme During the 12th Five Year Plan era, this Centrally Sponsored Scheme was introduced with the goal of strengthening the Panchayati Raj system across the States and eliminating the reasons that limit it. Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (NDRGGSP) The Government of India established this award in 2010 to reward, respect, and promote the country’s top Gram Panchayats. Gram Panchayat Development Plan Award (GPDPA) This award was created in 2018 to recognise and reward GPs who have produced their GPDPs in accordance with state/UT criteria. Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award (CFGPA) This award was created in 2019 to recognise the highest performing GPs who have adopted child-friendly practices.

National Screening Committee –

• The National Screening Committee comes under the MoPR.
• It will look into various aspects of the National Panchayat Awards, such as guidelines, questionnaires, the number and amount of prize money, and the selection of best performing Panchayats, among other things.

Conclusion:

Improvement and refinement of the National Panchayat Awards is a continuous policy intervention that may be done from time to time.

Chapter 5: Svamitva Scheme

Svamitva Scheme:

• SVAMITVA is a Panchayati Raj Ministry Central Sector Scheme.
• The scheme is a step forward in establishing unambiguous property ownership in rural populated (Abadi) regions.
• The SVAMITVA Scheme intends to equip village household owners with a Record of Rights.
• The owners can then use the record of rights to get bank and loan benefits, as well as other financial benefits.
• The Ministry of Panchayati Raj, the State Revenue Department, the State Panchayati Raj Department, and the Survey of India (SOI) are working together to execute the scheme.

Significance of Svamitva Scheme:

• Villagers can utilise their property as a financial asset to take out loans and other financial benefits under the Svamitva plan.
• People in rural regions would gain from the plan because they will be able to utilise their property as a financial asset to obtain loans and other financial benefits.
• It will also result in the compilation of accurate land records for rural planning and property tax calculation.
• Drone technology will also be used to assess land parcels in rural inhabited areas under the initiative.
• It will save them from the land mafia’s loot of land and help resolve other property-related disputes with the title deeds allotted as well.

Components involved in the implementation flow

1. Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS): It is a network of reference stations that will provide a virtual base station and allow access to long-ranging and high accuracy network Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) corrections. It helps in the process of georeferencing, ground-truthing, and land demarcation.
2. Large Scale Mapping (LSM) using drone: A drone survey will be used for mapping the Abadi area by SOI. It will produce high-resolution and accurate maps. Based on this data, ownership rights will be conferred and property cards will be issued to the rural household owners.
3. Information, Education, and Communication (IEC): It will include running campaigns, circulation of good practices, and other campaigns on the national level through social media platforms. It is upon the state government to develop a comprehensive communication strategy to sensitize the local population.
4. Enhancement of Spatial Planning Application “Gram Manchitra”: In order to support the preparation of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), the digital spatial data created using the drone survey shall be leveraged.
5. Online Monitoring System: It is important to monitor the activities and their progress for which reporting dashboards and online monitoring systems will be used.
6. Program Management Unit: It has two units namely the National Programme Management Unit (NPMU) and the State Programme Management Unit (SPMU). These will assist the departmental mechanism in the implementation of the scheme.

Recommendations

As the state and central governments gear up to implement this scheme, it will be important to ensure the programme includes four key things:

1. Engage the community from the start
2. Protect the most vulnerable people
3. Establish a grievance redressal system
4. Enable markets to work

Conclusion:

The unveiling of the Svamitva scheme demonstrates the Centre’s political determination to build dependable land records, which has been long overdue. The state and federal governments should carry out the real implementation, which would go a long way toward strengthening the financial power and independence of the Gram Panchayats, the local self-governance organizations.

Chapter 6: Gram Panchayat Development Plans

What are Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP)?

• The concept of a Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) was developed by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
• It is a panchayat’s annual plan in which the villagers decide how the money should be spent.
• The Gram Panchayats are also constitutionally mandated for the preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP) for economic development and social justice.
• The “resource envelope” is sent by the state government to all local governments.
• Finally, each panchayat understands how much money it has under various initiatives and how it should budget.
• The gram panchayat approves a plan once it has been developed.

Constitutional Mandate of GPDP:

The Constitution’s Article 243G is designed to strengthen Gram Panchayats (GPs) by allowing state governments to devolve responsibilities for local planning and execution of economic development and social justice programmes.

Significance of Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP)

• In the decentralized planning procedures, the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) brings together individuals and their elected representatives.
• The GPDP is meant to represent community development challenges, perceived needs, and goals, especially those of disadvantaged groups.
• Apart from basic infrastructure and services, resource development, and departmental scheme convergence, the GPDP has the capacity to solve social concerns.

GPDP Initiative

Shortcomings in current GPDP

• Lack of awareness generation and participatory planning for GPDP.
• GPDP being prepared as a wishlist.
• No concern for financial resource envelope.
• Lack of technical support to GPs for GPDP preparation.
• No relation between GPDP and works actually undertaken.
• Minuscule presence of major sectors like Agriculture, WCD, Health, Education, etc.
• Departments working in isolation.
• Review of GPDP at Block/District/State levels non-existent.

Recommendations to Strengthen GPDP:

1. Ensure capacity building of PRIs including ERs, Functionaries & Frontline Workers.
2. Have a strong poverty reduction focus on PESA rights, forest rights, social & food security, etc.
3. Focus on productive infrastructure activities like ponds, horticulture development, fisheries, livestock, minor irrigation, etc. to enhance production, productivity, income, employment and value addition.
4. Maintenance and up-gradation of water bodies, grasslands, pastures, etc. and conservation and usage of resources like minor forest produce, fodder, medicinal plants, firewood, etc.
5. Good governance measures like e-delivery of services, community monitoring, budgetary and accounting processes.
6. Focus on SDGs to identify priority areas of intervention for achieving socioeconomic goals.

Case Study:

Latak village in Assam has found a novel cost-effective way to connect flood-affected areas — a bridge made out of neatly stacked bamboo with the help of village panchayats. The panchayat planned the project after deliberations with villagers and funded it from its own resources: an example of complete decentralization of planning.

Conclusion:

In most cases, planning is a highly technical endeavour. It is vital to involve the public in the planning process, conduct a large-scale training exercise and ensure funding for efficient planning, accounting, and auditing of the panchayats.

Chapter 7: Water Management and Rural Planning

Introduction:

The apparent side-effect of economies pursuing indiscriminate market-based growth and individuals pursuing a consumerist lifestyle is ‘unmanageable waste creation.’ At the end of the day, the Gram Panchayat (GP) is responsible for cleaning up all of the waste.

Solid Waste Management in Rural Areas

• One of the main tasks of a Gram Panchayat is sanitation and street cleaning, and they should establish plans to handle it.
• Gram Panchayats are being looked at by the Government of India (GoI) and several State governments to come up with a viable system for managing solid waste in rural areas.
• Every Gram Panchayat is required under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM-Gramin) to set up a functional waste management system.

Recommended Measures for Solid Waste Management in Gram Panchayats

1. Gram Panchayats can set up a functional waste management system.
2. Panchayats should approve resolutions prohibiting the use of single-use carry bags and other disposable products, while encouraging businesses to use only biodegradable alternatives.
3. Periodic inspections by panchayat officials should ensure that community members, shopkeepers, and other stakeholders keep their surroundings clean.
4. The Gram Panchayat should penalize households and shopkeepers who break the local body norms.
5. The Gram Panchayats should have a mechanism to recover dues for SWM service as part of House Tax Repeated violations, and negligence must be viewed seriously.

Chapter 8: Localizing SDGs for Panchayats

What is the meaning of Localizing?

• The process of recognising subnational circumstances in the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda, from creating objectives and targets to determining means of implementation and employing indicators to assess and monitor progress, is known as ‘localizing.’

India’s Efforts in Localizing SDGs for Panchayats

• The Indian government is completely committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
• India’s national development goals and strategy, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas,’ or ‘Collective Efforts, Inclusive Growth,’ are aligned with the SDGs.
• In addition, the government is equally dedicated and involved in the design and implementation of some large-scale programmes that will close crucial development gaps on important SDGs.
• The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the world’s biggest financial inclusion programme, is another notable example of a cross-cutting project.

Dashboard for the Panchayats:

Conclusion:

States and UTs are implementing a variety of steps to achieve the SDGs, in keeping with the country’s long-standing federal history. The state-led localization procedures have yielded some fascinating outcomes, and there are a few early lessons that need to be learned in order to fine-tune the approach to localisation.

Chapter 9: ISO Certified Gram Panchayats

Introduction:

Panchayat Raj is a governance system that prepares the path for excellent government. A few panchayats in the country have received ISO certification, with the goal of establishing an e-office that would progressively turn into online administration through paperless communication.

What is ISO Certified Gram Panchayats?

• ISO certificate is a yardstick to correspond Gram panchayats to global quality standards, which may be reached by an obligatory requirement.
• ISO certification aims to energize the spirit of work efficiency and honesty.
• There are several examples of local bodies in India that have achieved the pinnacle of quality, efficiency, and profitability as a result of ISO certification.

Benefits:

• An ISO certified local body may provide considerably superior outcomes in terms of quality management and client satisfaction than a non-certified one.
• Furthermore, it might offer a push to a regular institution to retain the etiquette of a Gram Panchayat.
• Example: One such instance is the ultramodern Gram Panchayat of Aymanam village of Kottayam District, Kerala.

Chapter 10: Digital Local Governance

Introduction:

Digital government constitutes the most important trend of reforms at the local level. This article analyses the current state of digitalization in local governance in India.

E-panchayat and Rise of Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES):

• In 2012, the e-Panchayat application suite was introduced. National Panchayati Raj Day is observed on this day.
• In 2009-10, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj commissioned thorough research spanning all States and UTs to determine all of the stakeholders’ Information and Services needs, including Central Ministries, State Departments, panchayats, and residents.
• This software comprised the Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES).

E-panchayat and ICT Interventions:

• eGramSwaraj:
• It is a single platform for all PRI planning and accounting needs, as well as other parts of Panchayat administration.
• This application was created with the goal of keeping track of every dollar spent on each of the activities outlined in the Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs).
• With the Public Financial Management System, this application serves as the system’s foundation (PFMS).
• eGramSwaraj-PFMS Interface (eGSPI):
• It was first introduced in 2018. It attempts to improve transparency and accountability through the integration of the eGS accounting module with the Public Financial Management System.
• Geo-tagging of assets:
• The assets are geotagged at least three times: i) before the work begins, (ii) during the work, and (iii) when the work is completed.
• This would serve as a repository for all works and assets related to water harvesting, drought resistance, sanitation, agriculture, and so on.
• Gram Manchitra:
• Gram Manchitra was released in October 2021.
• It is a spatial planning application designed to assist and support GPs in performing planning at the GP level through the use of geospatial technology.
• This application is also related to the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) report, Mission Antyodaya (MA) and MA gap analysis, and the Gram Panchayat Resource Envelope.
• AuditOnline: Following the advice of the Fifteenth Finance Commission, it was introduced in 2020. It strives to improve Panchayat financial management and transparency.

Conclusion:

Considering the emergence of frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is in the process of bringing several improvements in local e-governance.

Chapter 11: People’s Plan

Introduction:

The People’s Plan Campaign will undertake large scale and special efforts to ensure maximum participation of people in local self-governance.

What is the People’s Plan Campaign?

• People’s Plan Campaign 2021 will be carried out with greater public participation.
• Each action in the campaign will foster a sense of community and dedication among inhabitants toward a common objective of village development.
• The campaign would be carried out on a massive scale, with special efforts made to guarantee maximum involvement of vulnerable groups of society such as SC/ST/Women.
• The Panchayat Development Plan intends to improve the participation of elected Panchayat members as well as SHG Women in Gram Sabha.

Vibrant Gram Sabha:

The dashboard was created to encourage maximum participation in Gram Sabha meetings, Gram Panchayat Standing Committee meetings, and meetings of elected Panchayat public representatives throughout the year.

Chapter 12: IEC Activities in Panchayats

Information Education and Communication (IEC)  in Panchayats

• IEC is a critical component of the various programmes and it should establish the groundwork for their successful execution.
• The IEC Campaign must inform, educate, and persuade individuals about their roles and responsibilities, as well as the rewards of investing in the proper practices.
• For instance, the IEC strategy must prepare PRIs and rural communities at the village level to plan, develop, manage, operate, and maintain safe drinking water on a long-term basis throughout the year.
• Example of IEC: Gramoday Sankalp:
• It is a quarterly magazine published by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and is a powerful medium of communication, education, and information delivery to the panchayats.

Conclusion:

IEC plays a critical role in raising awareness among all stakeholders about various aspects of safe drinking water, its use, creating demand, protecting, and maintaining water sources.

Gist of Yojana November 2021:-