Class 6 Civics

Panchayati Raj

This is the first tier or level of democratic government. The word Panchayat means an assembly of five people. This is an age old system in villages of the Indian subcontinent. In modern context, the government has decentralized several functions to the Panchayati Raj. This has been done to include people at the lowest levels in the decision making process.

Three Levels of the Panchayati Raj

There are three levels in the Panchayati Raj which are as follows:

  1. Gram Panchayat or Village Level Panchayat
  2. Panchayat Samiti or Janpad Panchayat or Block Level Panchayat
  3. Zila Parishad or District Level Panchayat

Gram Panchayat

The Gram Panchayat is composed of elected members. A Gram Panchayat can have members from several small villages or from a single large village. The tenure of a Gram Panchayat is for five years. Fresh elections are conducted after every five years.

Panch or Ward Member

A Gram Panchayat is divided into many wards. People of each ward elect a member. This member is called the Panch or Ward Member. A Panch has to look after the needs of his constituency.


All the Panchs elect a leader who becomes the Sarpanch or the Panchayat President. The Sarpanch presides over the meetings of the Gram Sabha.

Secretary of Gram Sabha

The Secretary of Gram Sabha is not an elected member. He is appointed by the government. The secretary calls the meetings of the Gram Sabha and keeps a record of the proceedings.

Gram Sabha

The meeting of all the adults of a Gram Panchayat is called the Gram Sabha. Anybody who is more than 18 years of age and belongs the Gram Panchayat can attend the Gram Sabha.

Functions of Gram Panchayat

Construction and Maintenance of Public Facilities

The Gram Panchayat looks after the construction of water sources, roads, drainage, school buildings and other common property resources. These facilities are important for the villagers.

Levying and collecting local taxes

The Gram Panchayat levies and collects local taxes. For example; the Gram Panchayat collects taxes from the village market.

Executing government schemes related to generating employment in the village

The government carries out various programmes for generating employment in the village. Funds for such programmes come through the official machinery. The Gram Panchayat looks after execution and implementation of such programmes. MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee) is an example of employment generation programme.

Sources of funds for the Panchayat

A Gram Panchayat needs money to do various works. While some of the fund comes from the central and state governments, the Gram Panchayat also raises funds by levying taxes and charges on certain matters. Different sources of Gram Panchayat are as follows:

Functions of Gram Sabha

The Gram Sabha functions to provide checks and balances on the working of the Gram Panchayat. During the meeting of the Gram Sabha, all the attendants have the right to raise questions if they find some wrongdoing.

For example, while finalizing the BPL (Below Poverty Line) list, the Sarpanch may include the name of a rich person or exclude the name of a poor person. Similarly, funds for installing hand-pumps may not have been properly utilized. Any member of the Gram Sabha can raise question on these issues.

This example shows that Gram Panchayat can prevent misuse of power which may happen if the Panch or Pradhan becomes too powerful. It is important to check the misuse of power by elected members of the Gram Panchayat.