Right from the Vedic Ages to modern times there have been the references to Panchayats and they have played a vital role in the local Self-Governing institutions. Mahatma Gandhi's dream that every village should be a republic having powers of self-governance has been adopted in Article 40 of the Constitution of India as a Directive Principle of State Policy. It provides that "State shall take steps to organize Village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self government."
For this purpose, the programme of Community Development through people's participation and state aid was introduced on 2nd October 1952. On the basis of Shri Balwant Rai Mehta committee in 1959 the concept of democratic decentralization was adopted and a three tier system of Panchayats was introduced. In course of time the Panchayati Raj Institution and also the urban local bodies, started failing in the responsibilities devolved on them, owing to the paucity of funds and delay in the conduct of timely election to such bodies.
By these two amendments, the Constitution of India conferred constitutional status to these institutions of local self government both in the rural and urban areas. Now, regular elections to these Institutions after five years are ensured under State Election Commission through the provisions of Articles 243E and 243U of the Constitution.
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