Decentralized Planning : Meaning and importance; and decentralised planning; major initiatives in India

Decentralized Planning is a type of planning where local organisations and institutions formulate, adopt, execute actions and supervise the plan without interference by the central body. Decentralized planning in the State operated mainly through the following institutions and instruments; Grama Sabha (GS): People’s participation in decentralization was sought to be ensured mainly through meetings of the GP ward level Grama Sabha, chaired by the ward member.

There are following major dimensions of decentralization:

(i) Financial:- the transfer of revenue, budgeting and expenditure authority to local elected bodies.

(ii) Administrative:-the transfer of functional responsibilities in various sectors as well as staff resources to the jurisdiction of elected local governments

(iii) Political:- the transfer of policy and legislative powers to local councils that have been democratically elected and establishment of mechanisms of accountability to local constituents

Panchayats are mentioned in Rig Veda, which is believed to have been composed more than 1000 years before Christ. The five members of the Panchayat of the village were known as Pancha Parameswar, or the five godly persons. Kings were respectful towards them. The Panchayat distributed land, collected revenue and settled disputes in the village. However, the Panchayats suffered a steady decline later under feudal and Moghul rules. A new class of feudal chiefs called zamindars came to function as a link between the king and the people.

Lord Ripon, who is regarded as the father of local-self government in India. He attached importance to both administrative efficiency as well as political education at the local level.

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1992, which gave Constitutional status to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and urban local bodies (ULBs) respectively, in both letter and spirit in order to bring about greater decentralisation and increase the involvement of the community in planning and implementing schemes and, thus, increase accountability.

The Amendments left important matters such as implementation, service delivery (including local capacity building) and transfer of responsibilities and powers to rural local bodies at the discretion of the state legislatures. Consequently, while expenditure responsibilities of local bodies are extensively enhanced, there is no law to ensure a corresponding assignment of funds to match the additional responsibilities.

The District Planning Committee was made under the Constitution (74th) Amendment Act, 1992. Accordingly, there shall be a District Planning Committee at the district level to consolidate the plans prepared by the panchayats and municipalities and to prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole.

  • Village/Ward Committee: Micro visioning & planning – linking vision to individual/family
  • Gram Panchayat:Link vision to own responsibility , resources , decide goal & plan
  • Intermediate Panchayat:Link vision to own responsibility , resources , decide goal & plan
  • Zilla Panchayat:-Link vision to own responsibility , resources , decide goal & plan
  • District Planning Committee :Integration & Consolidation

The Eleventh’ Schedule of the Constitution has recommended 29 subjects for devolution to Panchayats. The most important rationale for decentralized planning is direct involvement of the people in addressing their own development. An intervention which has impact only at the local level and can be organized locally is best left to the Panchayat to organize the same.

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