Gram Panchayat | Village Panchayat | Village Council (India)

Gram Panchayat is a key element of India’s rural governance system that plays a crucial role in the development and welfare of villages. It is the basic unit of local self-government in India and serves as a platform for grassroots democracy, community participation, and decentralized decision-making.

In this article, we will delve into the history, structure, functions, and significance of Gram Panchayats in India, highlighting their role in promoting sustainable development, improving rural infrastructure, and addressing local issues.

Additionally, this article provides information on the ‘Total Gram Panchayats‘ in India. If you are curious about the number of gram panchayats in the country, we recommend reading the entire article to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Gram Panchayat | Village Panchayat

The Gram Panchayat (Village Panchayat), which translates to ‘Village council‘, is a fundamental governing body in Indian villages. It operates as a democratic structure at the grassroots level, serving as the political cabinet for the village. The Gram Sabha serves as the general body of the Gram Panchayat, and it is responsible for electing its members.

How Many Gram Panchayat in India in 2023? There are about 255,608 Gram Panchayats in India.

Polity typeLocal government
Local government institute
Part ofPanchayat Raj system
Legislative Branch NameGram-sabha

History

The Panchayat Raj system, which is established in various states of India, comprises three tiers: Zila Parishad at the district level, Panchayat Samiti at the block level, and Gram Panchayat at the village level. Rajasthan holds the distinction of being the first state to establish a Gram Panchayat. The village of Bagdari, located in Nagaur District, was the first village in India where Gram Panchayat was established, on 2 October 1959.

The inability of the national government to effectively deal with local matters led to unsuccessful attempts to address the issue. Consequently, Panchayats were reintroduced in 1992 to serve their original purpose as organizations for local self-governance.

Structure of Gram Panchayats in India

At the very foundation of Panchayat Raj institutions (PRIs) are the Gram Panchayats. These PRIs derive their legal authority from the 73rd Constitutional Amendment of 1992, which aims to establish rural local governments.

PRIs are structured hierarchically, with Panchayats at three levels:-

  • Panchayat at District (or apex) Level
  • Panchayat at Intermediate Level
  • Panchayat at Base Level

The Gram Panchayat is further divided into wards, and each ward is represented by a directly elected Ward Member or Commissioner, who is also known as a Panch or Panchayat Member. At the helm of the Gram Panchayat is the village president, who is known as the Sarpanch. The elected representatives’ term in office is five years.

Also Read: Who is the head of Gram Panchayat ?

The Secretary of the Panchayat, a non-elected representative, is appointed by the state government to oversee the activities of the Panchayat.

Meetings

As per Section 6(3) of the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act of 1994, the gram sabha in that state is required to organize a meeting on a biannual basis.

Election

The term of office for a Gram Panchayat is set at five years. This means that every five years, elections are held in the village, and all residents of the Gram Panchayat’s territory who are over the age of 18 are eligible to cast their votes.

In order to empower women and encourage their participation in the democratic process, the Indian government has implemented certain measures for Gram Panchayat elections. These measures include reserving one-third of the seats for women and reserving seats for scheduled castes and tribes.

Functions of Gram (Village) Panchayat

The Gram Panchayat, or village council, plays a crucial role in the administration and development of rural areas in India. Here are some of the main functions performed by the Gram Panchayat:

  1. Administrative Functions:
    • The Gram Panchayat is responsible for carrying out various public work and welfare functions. This includes the maintenance, repair, and construction of roads, drains, bridges, and wells, among other things.
    • The council is also responsible for installing and maintaining street lamps in the village.
    • The Gram Panchayat provides primary education to the children of the village.
  2. Social and Economic Functions:
    • The council can construct various public amenities such as libraries, marriage halls, and community centers.
    • The Gram Panchayat can establish and run fair-price shops and cooperative credit societies to support the economic well-being of the villagers.
    • The council can establish gardens, ponds, and orchards for the benefit of the community.
  3. Judicial Functions:
    • The Nyaya Panchayat, which is part of the Gram Panchayat, provides quick and inexpensive justice to villagers in the area.
    • The Nyaya Panchayat can impose fines up to Rs. 100 for minor offenses.
    • Unlike in higher courts, the parties involved in a case before the Nyaya Panchayat are not represented by lawyers.

How Many Gram/Village Panchayat in India 2023

According to the local government directory (https://lgdirectory.gov.in/) of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, as of 2023, there are a total of 255,608 Village Panchayats in India.

Significance of Gram Panchayat

Gram Panchayats hold great significance in India’s governance system, especially in rural areas. Some of the key reasons why Gram Panchayats are important are:

  1. Decentralization of power: Gram Panchayats bring the decision-making process closer to the people, allowing them to participate in local governance and have a say in matters that affect their lives. This promotes decentralization of power and empowers the rural communities to take charge of their development.
  2. Addressing local issues: Village Panchayats are responsible for addressing local issues such as sanitation, healthcare, education, water supply, and infrastructure development. They have a better understanding of the local needs and can tailor their initiatives accordingly.
  3. Sustainable development: Gram Panchayats promote sustainable development by focusing on local resources, skills, and knowledge. They can initiate projects that are environment-friendly and socially inclusive, promoting economic growth and development without compromising the environment.
  4. Strengthening democracy: Village Panchayats serve as a platform for grassroots democracy, promoting the participation of women, marginalized communities, and other underprivileged groups in the decision-making process. This strengthens the democratic fabric of the country and ensures that no one is left behind.
  5. Reducing dependency: Gram Panchayats can help reduce the dependency of rural communities on external sources of funding and support by promoting self-reliance and entrepreneurship. This can lead to the creation of local employment opportunities and the growth of local economies.

FAQs

What is a Gram Panchayat?

Gram Panchayat is the lowest level of Panchayat Raj institutions (PRIs) in India. It is a local government system that operates at the village or hamlet level.

What is the role of a Gram Panchayat?

The primary role of a Gram Panchayat is to govern and administer the local affairs of a village. This includes managing the development and maintenance of village infrastructure, social welfare programs, and resolving disputes.

How is a Gram Panchayat formed?

A Gram Panchayat is formed through a democratic process where every resident of the village who is above 18 years of age has the right to vote for the members of the Panchayat. The members are elected through a direct election process.

How often are Gram Panchayat elections held?

Gram Panchayat elections are held every five years, and all residents of the village who are above 18 years of age are eligible to vote.

What is the role of a Sarpanch in a Gram Panchayat?

A Sarpanch is the elected head of the Gram Panchayat who presides over the meetings and manages the affairs of the Panchayat. The Sarpanch plays a crucial role in decision-making and represents the Panchayat at various levels of administration.

What is the function of a Gram Sabha?

Gram Sabha is a village-level meeting that is held to discuss and resolve the issues related to the village. It is a forum for the villagers to express their views and concerns and participate in the decision-making process of the Gram Panchayat.

How are women represented in Gram Panchayat?

The Indian government has set a minimum quota of 33% reservation for women in Gram Panchayats. This reservation ensures that women are adequately represented and have a voice in local governance.

What are the sources of revenue for a Gram Panchayat?

The primary source of revenue for a Gram Panchayat is the grants provided by the state and central governments. Other sources of revenue include taxes on property, entertainment, and professions, as well as fees for services provided by the Panchayat.

What is Gram Panchayat (Definition & Meaning of Gram Panchayat in English)

Gram Panchayat Definition | Gram Panchayat Meaning

Gram Panchayat (transl. ‘Village council‘) is a local self-government institution in India that is responsible for the administration and development of rural areas. It is the lowest level of the Panchayati Raj system, which is a decentralized form of governance in India.

The term “Gram” refers to a village, and “Panchayat” means a council of five members. Gram Panchayats are elected bodies consisting of members who are directly elected by the villagers. The members of the Gram Panchayat are called Panchayat members, and the head of the Gram Panchayat is called the Sarpanch.

The functions of the Gram Panchayat include the implementation of rural development programs, provision of basic amenities like water supply, sanitation, and health care, maintenance of village records, regulation of village markets and fairs, and resolution of disputes.

Number of Panchayats

Sr. No.State / Union TerritoryDistrict PanchayatsIntermediate PanchayatsGram Panchayats
1Andhra Pradesh22109721807
2Arunachal Pradesh161611779
3Assam211852202
4Bihar385318463
5Chhattisgarh181469734
6Goa2NA189
7Gujarat2622413738
8Haryana211196083
9Himachal Pradesh12753243
10Jammu and Kashmir221434131
11Jharkhand242594438
12Karnataka301765628
13Kerala14152999
14Madhya Pradesh5031323012
15Maharashtra3335127920
16Manipur4NA165
17Meghalaya*NANANA
18Mizoram*NANANA
19Nagaland*NANANA
20Orissa303146234
21Punjab2014212800
22Rajasthan332499177
23Sikkim4NA163
24Tamil Nadu3138512618
25Tripura423511
26Uttar Pradesh7282151914
27Uttarakhand13957541
28West Bengal183333351
29A & N Islands2769
30Chandigarh1112
31D & N Haveli1011
32Daman and Diu1NA14
33Lakshadweep1NA10
34Puducherry01098
35DelhiNANANA
Total365846312255,608

Gram Panchayat Hierarchy

  • Gram Panchayat / Gram Sabha (Village council)
    • Villages
      • Wards

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