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Panchayati Raj and Women Empowerment : Dependency versus Autonomy
By Nupur Tiwari

First Published : 2016
ISBN : 9788177084283
Pages : 186
Binding : Hardbound
Size : 5 x 9
Price : US$ 39

Panchayats are local governments mandated in the Constitution of India. As per the Constitution, a three-tier structure of panchayats is in place across the country, excepting areas where Part IX of the Constitution does not apply. Panchayats are to be constituted, through elections every five years, except in States with a population of less than 20 lakh, where panchayats at two tiers may be created.

The Constitution recognizes the gram sabha, i.e. all the electors in a village panchayat. The Constitution provides that seats and offices of chairpersons be reserved for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) in proportion to their respective population, and not less than one-third seats and offices of the chairpersons be reserved for women, including within the SC and ST reservations.

Women’s increased political participation has yielded positive results. Issues central to the development—including health, nutrition, family income and education—have taken centre stage as women participate in panchayati raj institutions (PRIs), village development boards and other governance structures.

India has primarily relied upon the method of reservation to ensure women’s presence in decision-making bodies. This has increased de jure, but not necessarily de facto, participation. There is a need to encourage women’s participation in other kinds of groups and associations which contribute to an atmosphere of leadership by women. 

1. Local Self-governments in India
1.1 Constitutional Provisions Regarding Local Bodies
1.2 Decentralisation Initiative, 1992
1.3 Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992
1.4 Constitution (Seventy-fourth Amendment) Act, 1992
1.5 Women in Local Governance Structures
1.5.1 Proxy Politics
1.5.2 Amendment to Article 243T of the Constitution to Provide for 50 percent Reservation for Women in Urban Local Bodies
2. Constitutional and Legal Provisions Regarding Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)
2.1 Constitutional Provisions Regarding Panchayats
2.2 Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA)
2.3 Areas Not Covered under Part IX
2.4 Role of the States
3. Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) and its Programmes/Schemes
3.1 Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR)
3.2 Number of Panchayats and Elected Representatives
3.3 Devolution of Powers, Responsibilities and Resources to Panchayats
3.3.1 Activity Mapping of Functions Devolved by States to Panchayats
3.3.2 Schematic Interventions
3.3.3 Panchayat Devolution Index
3.3.4 Delegation of Powers in Centrally-sponsored Schemes to Panchayats
3.4 Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) Programme
3.4.1 Introduction
3.4.2 Management of the Programme at the State Government Level
3.4.3 Special Provisions for States and Districts not covered under Parts IX and IX-A of the Constitution
3.4.4 Fund Flow Mechanism and Tracking of Funds under the BRGF
3.4.5 BRGF Development Grants
3.4.6 BRGF Capacity Building Grants
3.4.7 Constitution of District Planning Fund Committees (DPCs)
3.4.8 Technical Support for DPCs to Prepare District Plans
3.4.9 PlanPlus Software Application
3.4.10 Action Soft
3.5 Capacity Building and Training (CB&T)
3.5.1 Initiatives for Capacity Building
3.5.2 National Capability Building Framework (NCBF)
3.6 Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA)
3.7 E-Panchayat
3.8 Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 (PESA)
3.8.1 Scope
3.8.2 Powers of Gram Sabha
3.8.3 Challenges
3.8.4 MoPR Initiatives
3.9 Panchayat Awards
3.9.1 Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar
3.9.2 Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha (RGGS) Award
4. Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA)
4.1 Objectives
4.2 Modalities
4.3 Activities
4.4 Integration with Swachh Bharat Mission
5. Economic, Social and Political Empowerment of Women
5.1 Economic Empowerment
5.1.1 Vicious Circle of Poverty and Gender Inequality
5.1.2 Gender Discrimination in Wages
5.1.3 Strategies for Economic Empowerment of Women
5.2 Social Empowerment
5.2.1 Women and Health
5.2.2 Women and Education
5.2.3 Women and Media
5.3 Political Empowerment
6. Women Representation in PRIs
6.1 Representation of Marginalized Sections
6.2 Image Building by Women
6.3 Role of Reservation for Women
7. Illusion of Inclusion
7.1 Surrogate Participation
7.2 Panchayats versus Higher Level Governments
7.3 Essentials for Democratic Functioning of PRIs
7.4 Gram Sabha Meetings
7.5 Training for Women
8. Opportunities and Challenges for Women in PRIs
8.1 Opportunities for Women
8.1.1 Self-empowerment
8.1.2 Social Mobilization with Gender Focus
8.1.3 Training Programmes
8.2 PRIs and Traditional Institutions
8.3 Problems/Challenges Faced by Women in Panchayats
8.4 Village Level Planning
9. Women, Micro Finance and Self-help Groups (SHGs)
9.1 Meaning and Role of Micro Finance
9.2 Why Should Micro Finance Focus on Women?
9.3 Self-help Groups (SHGs)
9.3.1 Structure of a SHG
9.3.2 Alternative Models of Micro Finance/SHGs
9.3.3 Benefits of SHGs
9.4 Women Self-help Groups (WSHGs)
9.4.1 Problems and Challenges
9.5 SHG-Bank Linkage Programme
9.5.1 Graduation of Mature SHGs into Micro Enterprises
10. Women in PRIs: Indian Experiences
11. Women in PRIs: A Case Study of Bihar
11.1 Bihar: An Introduction
11.2 Schedules for Interview
11.3 Qualitative Survey
11.4 Rationale for Selecting the Districts for Study
11.5 Findings of the Study
11.5.1 Socio-Demographic and Economic Profile of Elected Women Representatives
11.5.2 Study of Zila Parishad Chairpersons
11.5.3 Mukhiyas: Study of 30 Panchayats
11.5.4 Involvement
11.6 Recommendations
12. Local Governance Experiences of India and Pakistan
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Political Commitment and Sincerity
12.3 Features of Local Governments in Pakistan
12.4 Local Governance in India
12.5 Global Experiences of Local Governments
Appendix: National Policy for Empowerment of Women (NPEW)


Dr. Nupur Tiwari is currently a Faculty Member, Rural Administration and Panchayati Raj at Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi. She has also served as faculty member at the Centre for Rural Studies, Lal Bhadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.

She has to her credit 35 research papers/articles published in national and international peer-reviewed journals. She has authored 3 books/monographs and contributed chapters in a number of books. She was a member of the Thematic Group on Panchayati Raj and Local Self-government constituted by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER). She was also involved in the Expert Committee for Leveraging Panchayati Raj, constituted by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India.

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