Explain PRIs as an Instrument of Social Transformation.

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) as an Instrument of Social Transformation:

In establishing the institutions of democracy in Parliament and in the State Legislature, our founding fathers gave particular recognition to the disabilities suffered by the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Provision was made for the reservation of seats for the total electorate. This is a principle which has not been incorporated in most of the Panchayati Raj legislation’s enacted by the state Legislatures. According to the 73rd (1993) Amendment Act, reservations are to be provided to the weaker sections of the society up to a minimum of 51% of the total membership of the PRIs.

The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities have been statutorily provided a minimum of 15% and 3% seats, respectively and the backward classes have a share of 33%. Further, one-third of all seats, including the above reserved seats, have to ‘be necessarily filled up by women. Consequently, most of the representation has.been provided for the underprivileged sections, in order to undo the socio-economic handicaps thrust on them, in the traditionally exploitative society.

The democratic rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cannot be secured by good intentions alone. It has to be secured in the first instance, by reservation in Panchayati Raj Institutions on the same basis as reservations are given in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. The Bill makes it mandatory for the state legislatures to ensure reservation for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population in the relevant Panchayat area.

Also, there will be reservations in Panchayats at all levels of 30% of the seats for women. The presence of women in large numbers in the Panchayats will not only make. the Panchayats more representative but will also make them more efficient, honest, disciplined and responsible. It is the strength of moral character which women will bring to the Panchayats.

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