The Panchayats are expected to play an important role in rural development in India, particularly after independence. Plan documents of both the central and state governments and various committees have emphasized the importance of these bodies in the polity. Five-year plans, specially the second five-year plan, laid special emphasis on the role of Panchayats in rural developments. Second five-year plan envisaged a panchayat as responsible for village development keeping transformation of social and economic life of rural areas as its goal of development. It says that, the rural progress depends entirely on the existence of an active organization in the village which can bring all the people, including the weaker sections, in to common programmes to be carried out with the assistance of administration.
To achieve this objective the second Five year Plan entailed the Panchayats to perform civic, developmental, land management, land reform and judicial functions. Subsequent plans and policy pronouncements of national leader to emphasized the role of Panchayats in village development-1 The role of panchayat Raj institutions as instruments of rural reconstruction and development needs no emphasis. They have been reorganized with wider powers and financial resources not merely as institutions of political participation but institutions of social and economic development. Panchayat Raj has come to be associated with two broad images.
First, it is a government by itself and second it is an agency of the state government. In the integrated exercise of planning for social and economic development, co-ordinate roles, the present set up is a three-tier representative structure of government where the administrators, elected leaders and local population participate in the developmental effort. In fact the elected representatives play the key role in the decision making process, leaders are regarded as facilities of the process of development. Since the emphasis of rural development policies is bringing about people’s participation in the development programmes, it is possible to achieve this through the leaders
. The administrators are excepted to participate with missionary zeal in the life and development of the villages and these Institutions are to be galvanized to become effective instruments of social and economic change .
The main responsibility of the Panchayati Raj Institutions is to accelerate the pace of development and involve all people in this process so that the felt needs of the people and their development aspirations are fulfilled. The decentralized planning is a multi-level planning process. It will have to start from lower level (Gram Panchayat), intermediate level (Mandal Parishad) and higher level (Zilla Parishad). Panchayati Raj Institutions are expected to play an important role in planning and implementing various developmental programmes. One may recall that after independence, India has continuously implemented development programmes with the objective of improving the social and economic conditions of the people.