Introduction

The role of the Panchayats in the rural polity has evolved throughout history from the stages when it constituted of individuals appointed by the colonial rulers to perform functions of a palliative nature in the grassroot rural setting of pre Independence era.

On the basis of The West Bengal Panchayat Act, 1973, the present generation Panchayats in the State were installed in 1978, fifteen years ahead of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India. Since their inception, the State has demonstrated strong commitment to rural decentralization by: (i) ensuring regular elections to PRIs; (ii) entrusting them with increasing responsibility of implementing various rural development programmes; and (iii) making the development bureaucracy part of PRIs. The State also has ensured adequate representation of the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and women in PRIs for their involvement in the process of socio-economic development.  more ...