The Article 40 of the Constitution of India enjoins upon the state “to take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.” “Local self-government” figures in the State list (entry No. 5) Thus operationalising the Panchayati Raj was left to the State governments, with varying degrees of commitment. Consequently, the functioning of the three-tier PR structure — Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samithis, and Zilla Parishads — that emerged in the late 1950s was marked by disparity among states
After three decades, the Union government took steps to provide, at the national level, an institutional framework to the units of local self-government, both rural and urban, by amending the Constitution in 1992-93. Part IX inserted by the 73rd Amendment (which related to the panchayati raj institutions) provided for the setting up of a State Election Commission to conduct periodical elections, the appointment of a State Finance Commission to recommend devolution of resources from the State government to the PRIs, and the creation of District Planning Committees to formulate development plans that will form the basis for the State plans.
The formation of the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj in 2004 became an important step in establishing an effective national level monitor for the PRIs.
The institution of self-government as envisioned in 1949 and in 1992 is still a mirage. A review of pre-existing laws should be taken up to make the PRIs more effective. A nexus between the contractors, bureaucrats and politicians is really affecting meaningful implementation of the PR Acts. PR is a regime of intense rent seeking.The entire system is in danger of collapsing under the weight of its own corruption.
The poor delivery by the PRIs is due to inadequate devolution, dependence on government funding, reluctance of the PRIs to use fiscal powers, excessive bureaucratic control, and interference by the MLAs.