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Empowering the grassroots for Sustainable Development

Empowering the grassroots for Sustainable Development

“The future of India lies in its villages” – Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Our Nation

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The Panchayat Raj System introduced by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment is a partial realization of Gandhiji’s dream of Gram Swaraj. He envisaged an empowered village unit which was self-reliant, with powers to take decisions regarding subjects concerning its development directly. Village-level Gram Panchayats can be powerful tools for gathering public opinion.

Gandhiji saw the potential of the gram sabhas in churning out powerful revolutions. The Right to Information Act, of 2005 was born in a small village in Rajasthan where the villagers demanded minimum wages and transparency in information pertaining to their muster rolls. It was a powerful manifestation of what Gandhiji had said that When the panchayat raj is established, public opinion will do what violence can never do.

Last week, on the 24th of April, 2022, our nation celebrated the 13th Panchayati Raj Diwas commemorating the inception of decentralized power through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992. On this day, the nation acknowledges the role of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the development of the Nation. Ideally, development begins at the grassroots and these institutions of self-government are pivotal in strengthening the spirit of democracy.

The Constitution empowers PRIs to take decisions on a variety of subjects mentioned in the 11th Schedule under Article 243G of the Constitution of India viz., agriculture, land reforms, irrigation, health, rural housing, drinking water, social welfare etc., Most of these subjects are covered under the 17 elements of Sustainable Development Goals” prepared by the United Nations as an index for Human Development, eradication of poverty, removing gender disparities, inequality, achieving universal primary education etc.

Villages form the backbone of our country and must not be ignored in the race for urban development. Villages are the treasure troves for natural resources, traditional knowledge, culture and arts. Treasuring them is essential for preserving the soul of India, for as Gandhiji said, the soul of India lives in its villages.

SWATHI.K, Assistant Professor.

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