Every village has a representative body called the Panchayat. It is the Local Self-Government at the basic level. The Local Self-Government is a body whose purpose is to look into the local problems and basic requirements of the people of a village, town or city.
The Panchayat consist of five members called Panchas. They are elected by the people of the village. The head of the panchayat is called the Sarpanch. The Panchayat Ghar is the building where the Panchayat meets to discuss its working and perform its functions.
Can you guess how the panchayat got its name? Paanch means the number five in Hindi. Five members are generally elected to form the Village Panchayat. So panchayat translates into ‘of five members’.
The main functions of the Panchayat are :
1. Keeping the village area clean and safe.
2. Construction and maintenance of village roads and waterways.
3. Planting of trees.
4. Provision of clean drinking water and solution of water problems in the village by arranging for wells to be dug at suitable places.
5. Organising welfare programmes for the benefit of the people of the village.
6. Supervising the running of schools for the education of children and adult literacy centres for education of adults.
7. Looking after the running of primary health centres for medical help, and community centres for recreation of the people,
8. Settling petty disputes between any two parties just as courts do in cities.
The Panchayats have been successful in improving the condition of their villages by drawing the attention of the concerned government officials to their problems and getting many welfare schemes sanctioned for the benefit of the people.