Chairperson, Institute of Social Science, Delhi
The Panchayati Raj Act is a paradigm shift in governance in India. With millions of elected local representatives, panchayatiraj has increased India's democratic density. This system has provided space for inclusion of excluded communities in overall decision making process.
It was started with 33 per cent reservation for women. Now many states provide up to 50 per cent reservation for women to give an impetus to women leadership. It has brought government closer to its people and helped eliminating feudal forces. Unfortunately, it has not affected national governance the way people expected it to be. However, at local level it has streamlined development activities.
In a few states like Kerala, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim, panchayatiraj has impacted the character of governance. In 20 years, it has opened the flood gate of democracy. No body can close it.
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