Karnataka: decentralizing democracy

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Karnataka has made sustained efforts to strengthen its Panchayati Raj system. Karnataka was the first state in the country to enact the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, during 1993 incorporating the features of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment.

Since then, it has been a beacon of empowerment to the voiceless section of society by providing for specific reservation not only in membership but also to the post of Chairpersons of Panchayati Raj Institutions. The very idea of decentralizing democracy lay in creating equal opportunities for the participation of various underprivileged sections. Women have been provided with 50 per cent reservation both in membership and authority positions.

More significantly, in order to promote participatory governance, the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 has been further amended for enhancing the quality of people’s participation through greater empowerment of Gram Sabhas and Ward Sabhas thereby bringing in transparency and accountability in the functioning of PRIs.

The State has entrusted major responsibilities and devolved all the 29 functions to the Panchayats as enlisted under the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. Karnataka State has the distinction of being the first state transfer funds directly to the gram panchayats under the MGNREGA. Direct transfer of funds to the accounts of the beneficiaries through electronic Funds Management System (eFMS) is being undertaken in all districts of State.

Karnataka is a sure success on the promise of decentralizing democracy and empowering the lives of the citizens.

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