Schedule 11 of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers and functions of the Panchayats, which are local self-governance institutions in rural areas. The schedule was added to the constitution through the 73rd amendment in 1992.
The Panchayati Raj system is a three-tier system consisting of Gram Panchayats at the village level, Panchayat Samitis at the block level, and Zilla Parishads at the district level. The system is based on the principles of decentralization and devolution of power to the grassroots level, and is aimed at promoting participatory democracy and social justice.
Schedule 11 lays down the powers and functions of the Panchayats, which include the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice, the implementation of schemes for poverty alleviation, the maintenance of essential services like sanitation, health and education, and the management of natural resources like land, water and forests.
The schedule also specifies the manner in which the Panchayats are to be constituted, the tenure of the members, the reservation of seats for women and Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and the powers of the State Election Commission in conducting Panchayat elections.
One of the key features of Schedule 11 is the provision for devolution of financial powers to the Panchayats. The Panchayats are entitled to receive funds from the State government for carrying out their functions and responsibilities, and are also empowered to levy taxes and fees on certain activities within their jurisdiction.
However, despite the constitutional provisions and efforts to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system, there have been challenges in its implementation, including inadequate financial resources, lack of capacity building, and political interference. Nevertheless, the Panchayati Raj system remains an important tool for local self-governance and empowering rural communities in India.