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A sarpanch (IAST: Sarpañc) or gram pradhan or mukya is a decision-maker, elected by the village-level constitutional body of local self-government called the Gram Sabha (village government) in India. [1] The sarpanch, together with other elected panchayat members (referred to as commissioners or a panch), constitute gram panchayats and zilla panchayats. The sarpanch is the focal point of contact between government officers and the village community and retains power for five years.


Meaning of sarpanch

Sar, meaning head, and panch meaning five, gives the meaning head of the five decision makers of the gram panchyat of the village.

In the state of West Bengal, a Sarpanch is termed as Panchayat Pradhan (Pradhan means Head) and his deputy as Upa-Pradhan.

Panchayati raj

Although panchayats have been in existence in India since antiquity, in post-Independence India, most of the rural development and community development projects have been sought to be executed through panchayats. India's federal structure of governance means that different states have different laws governing the powers of the gram panchayats and sarpanches.

Panchayat elections

In many states, elections were not held for decades and instead of elected sarpanches, the gram panchayats were run by bureaucratically appointed administrators. With the passage of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1992, a number of safeguards have been built in, including those pertaining to regular elections.

Reservation for women

Article 243D(3) of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment requires one-third of seats in panchayats and one-third of panchayat chairperson positions be reserved for women, across all three levels of the panchayati raj system. [2] [3] :24 This amendment followed various state-level legislative reforms in which reservations were set for panchayat positions to be held by women. [3] :32

See also

Related Research Articles

Gram Panchayat is a basic village-governing institute in Indian villages. It is a democratic structure at the grass-roots level in India. It is a political institute, acting as cabinet of the village. The Gram Sabha work as the general body of the Gram Panchayat. The members of the Gram Panchayat are elected by the Gram Sabha.

Panchayat samiti is a rural local government (panchayat) body at the intermediate tehsil (taluka/mandal) level in India. It works for the villages of the tehsil that together are called a development block. It has been said to be the "panchayat of panchayats".

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Panchayati raj in India

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The Ministry of Panchayati Raj is a branch of the Government of India.

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Panchayat may refer to:

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Punsari Village in Gujarat, India

Punsari is a village located in Sabarkantha district in the state of Gujarat, India. Punsari is considered as India's smartest village. The village is located at about 80km from the state capital, Gandhinagar. Punsari is 20km from Parvati Hills. Parvati Hills is the largest table top land of India. The village follows the Panchayati raj system. The village extent is about 65 km. The land in use of agriculture is 6 hectares. The main non farming activity is dairy in this village. The village has undergone a transformation under the panchayat. There has been use of new and advanced technology in education. This village has wi-fi connection for all people. Efforts have been made for the empowerment of women and increasing security in the village. Some of the facilities provided by the panchayat include local mineral water supply, sewer & drainage project, a healthcare centre, banking facilities and toll-free complaint reception service. Consequently, Punsari received the award of being the best Gram Panchayat in Gujarat. The village's model has been appreciated by delegates from Nairobi and they are keen to replicate this in Kenyan villages.

"Right To Recall (RTR)" are existing laws in some states of India that allow citizens to remove or replace public servants holding posts of Sarpanch, Mukhiya, Corporator and Mayor in the government.

Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996

The Provisions of the Panchayats Act, 1996 or PESA is a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India. Scheduled Areas are areas identified by the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Scheduled Areas are found in ten states of India which have predominant population of tribal communities. The Scheduled Areas, were not covered by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment or Panchayati Raj Act of the Indian Constitution as provided in the Part IX of the Constitution. PESA was enacted on 24 December 1996 to extend the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution to Scheduled Areas, with certain exceptions and modifications. PESA sought to enable the Panchayats at appropriate levels and Gram Sabhas to implement a system of self-governance with respect to a number of issues such as customary resources, minor forest produce, minor minerals, minor water bodies, selection of beneficiaries, sanction of projects, and control over local institutions. PESA is an Act to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats and the Scheduled Areas. PESA was viewed as a positive development for tribal communities in Scheduled Areas who had earlier suffered tremendously from engagement with modern development processes and from the operation of both colonial laws and statutes made in independent India. The loss of access to forest, land, and other community resources had increased their vulnerability. Rampant land acquisition and displacement due to development projects had led to large scale distress in tribal communities living in Scheduled Areas. PESA was seen as a panacea for many of these vulnerabilities and sought to introduce a new paradigm of development where the tribal communities in such Scheduled Areas were to decide by themselves the pace and priorities of their development.

Caste panchayat

Caste panchayats, based on caste system in India, are caste-specific juries of elders for villages or higher-level communities in India. They are distinct from village panchayats in that the latter, as statutory bodies, serve all villagers regardless of caste, although they operate on the same principles. A panchayat can be permanent or temporary.

The Zila Panchayat or District Council or Mandal Parishad or District Panchayat is the third tier of the Panchayati Raj system and functions at the district levels in all states. A Zila Parishad is an elected body. Block Pramukh of Block Panchayat are also represented in Zila Parishad. The members of the State Legislature and the members of the Parliament of India are members of the Zila Parishad. The Zila parishad is the top most tier of the panchayat raj system and acts as the link between the state government and the village-level Gram Panchayat.

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Panchayati raj Indian political system

The Panchayat raj (panchayat "village council", raj "rule") is a political system, originating from the Indian subcontinent, found mainly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. It is the oldest system of local government in the Indian subcontinent, and historical mentions date to the 250 CE period. The word raj means "rule" and panchayat means "assembly" (ayat) of five (panch). Traditionally, Panchayats consisted of wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. These assemblies settled disputes between both individuals and villages. However, there were varying forms of such assemblies.

Block Pramukh (president) are Panchayats at the Apex or District Level in Panchayat Raj Institutions.

Oral democracy is a talk-based form of government and political system in which citizens of a determined community have the opportunity to deliberate, through direct oral engagement and mass participation, in the civic and political matters of their community. Additionally, oral democracy represents a form of direct democracy, which has the purpose of empowering citizens by creating open spaces that promote an organized process of discussion, debate, and dialogue that aims to reach consensus and to impact policy decision-making. Political institutions based on this idea of direct democracy seek to decrease the possibilities of state capture from elites by holding them accountable, to encourage civic participation and collective action, and to improve the efficiency and adaptability of development interventions and public policy implementation.


  1. Misra, Suresh; Dhaka, Rajvir S. (2004). Grassroots Democracy in Action: A Study of Working of PRIs in Haryana. Concept Publishing Company. p. 116. ISBN   9788180691072 . Retrieved 29 December 2010.
  2. Constitution of India. Government of India.
  3. 1 2 Sharma, Kumud (1998). "Transformative Politics: Dimensions of Women's Participation in Panchayati Raj". Indian Journal of Gender Studies. 5 (1): 23–47. doi:10.1177/097152159800500103. PMID   12321579. S2CID   36735582.