The Union government amended the Constitution in 1992 so as to provide a national level institutional framework to the units of local self-government, both rural and urban. And in 2004, the formation of the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj in was an important step in establishing an effective national level monitor.
But how well does it really work?
The National Institute of Rural Development, based in Hyderabad, has recently brought out a report on the state of these affairs, PANCHAYATI RAJ AND LOCAL GOVERNANCE. Edited by B K Sinha and K Gopal Iyer, this is essentially the proceedings of a three-day workshop of writers and thinkers convened by them in June 2006. In the words of the editors, “it was a workshop with a difference where the floor spoke and the dais listened.”
Also in our Governance section. Rs 675, 356 pages. ISBN: 9788170339687
In Courts, Panchayats and Nagarpalikas, K C Sivaramakrishnan undertakes a comprehensive study of the Panchayat Raj. "The 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendments became law more than a decade ago but their implementation in different states of India has been tardy and uneven. The course of implementation has also been marked by numerous disputes, both political and legal. It is estimated there are more than 500 cases which have been adjudicated during the period in the various High Courts and the Supreme Court.
This book ... seeks to bring out the genesis, the points of jurisprudence and what can be regarded as settled law common to both the panchayats and the municipalities pertaining to issues like elections, delimitation, reservation, planning and functional domain."
Writing about in The Hindu, V K Srinivasan says the book is a "handy reference that needs to be in the hands of not only those at the helm of Panchayats and municipalities, but also district collectors and judges, who are called upon to settle issues. This book is a must for the libraries of state governments, high courts and law colleges and judicial academies."
In our Governance and Law sections, 342 pages, Rs 995. ISBN: 9788171886883