Thursday, 11 February 2016























Wednesday, 10 February 2016


What is a renewable resource?
A renewable resource is one that can be replenished within a generation. Forests, as long as they are replanted, are a renewable resource. Materials such as oil, coal, and natural gas are known as nonrenewable resources because they require millions of years to be created. So, once the world’s supply of oil is gone, it’s gone for a long, long time.

What is a perpetual resource?
Perpetual resources are natural resources—such as solar energy, wind, and tides—that have no chance of being used in excess of their availability. They can be used for power generation and conversion to electric energy.

What are fossil fuels?
Underground fuels such as natural gas,oil, and coal are all known as fossil fuels because they are encased in rocks, just
like fossils. It takes millions of years of compression and the building up of dead plants and animals to create these fuels.

What is a fossil?
The outline of the remains of a plant or animal embedded in rock is called a fossil.Fossils are formed when a plant or animal dies and becomes covered up by sediments. Over time, the layers compress the remains, which are then embedded into the rock.


How thick is the Earth’s crust?
The thickness of the Earth’s crust varies at different points around the planet. Under
continents, the crust is approximately 15 miles (24 kilometers) thick, but under the oceans it is a mere five miles (8 kilometers) thick.

What is continental drift?

The Earth is divided into massive pieces of crust that are called tectonic plates. These
plates lie wedged together like a puzzle. The plates slowly move, crashing into each other to form mountain ranges, volcanoes, and earthquakes. The plates are like rafts floating on water; this is called continental drift.

How many tectonic plates are there?
There are a dozen significant plates on the planet. Some of the largest include the Eurasian Plate, North American Plate, South American Plate, African Plate, Indo-Australian Plate, Pacific Plate, and Antarctic Plate. Some smaller plates are located between the major plates. The smaller plates include the Arabian Plate (containing the Arabian Peninsula), the Nazca Plate (located to the west of South America), the Philippine Plate (located southeast of Japan, containing the northern Philippine islands), the Cocos Plate (located southwest of Central America), and the Juan de Fuca Plate (just off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and Northern California).

What was Pangea?
Pangea, which existed about 250 million years ago, was one huge continent, including the land of all seven continents. It was located near present-day Antarctica and has slowly drifted and split to form the continents as we know them today. The continents and their tectonic plates continue to move and will one day be in a much different arrangement than
they are today. 

How are mountains formed?
The process of orogeny, or mountain building, is related to continental drift. When two tectonic plates collide, they often form mountains. The Himalayas are the result of the Indo-Australian plate colliding with the Eurasian plate. At these collision zones, volcanoes and earthquakes are common.

How did the Himalayas form?
About 30 to 50 million years ago, the landmass of India pressed into the landmass of Asia,
pushing up land at the place of impact and creating the Himalayas. Even today, as the
Indian subcontinent presses against Asia, the Himalayas continue to grow and change.

What type of rocks are formed by lava?
Igneous rocks are formed when liquid magma under the surface of the Earth, or lava on the surface of the Earth, cools and hardens into rock.

What type of rocks are formed from particles
Sedimentary rocks are formed by the accumulation and squeezing together of layers of sediment (particles of rock or remains of plant and animal life) at the bottom of rivers, lakes, and oceans or even on land. The continual accumulation of more and more layers of sediment places a great amount of pressure on the lowest layers of sediment and, over time, compresses them into rock.

What are recycled rocks?
Metamorphic rocks are recycled rocks. Metamorphic rocks are rocks that had a prior
 existence as sedimentary, igneous, or even another metamorphic rock. Underground heat and pressure metamorphose one type of rock into another, creating a metamorphic, or recycled rock.

What type of sand do we often see on beaches near volcanoes?

Because of the content of the sediment near volcanoes comprised of dark black igneous rock, the resulting beach sand in such places as Hawaii and Indonesia is actually a dark brown, even black in color.

Which is larger, clay or sand?

A single grain of sand is 1500 times larger than a grain of clay.

What is a dike?
A dike is magma that has risen up through a crack between layers of rock. When this
magma solidifies, it becomes very solid rock. If the rock around it is eroded, a dike can
form great rock monoliths above the ground.

What are hot springs?
Hot springs are created by underground water that is heated and percolates to the Earth’s surface. Aside from being natural baths, the steam from hot springs can be used to drive turbines, which create electricity. This type of energy production is called geothermal energy.

Where are hot springs used by people around the world?

Hot spring baths have been used in cultures throughout the world since ancient times. They are found in such places as Japan, Taiwan, Australia, the United States,Iceland, and Sicily.

Why does the ground sink?
In many places over the world, seemingly solid land lies over vast oil deposits or water
aquifers. Without the liquid supporting it, the ground sinks into the space left behind. In some parts of California’s Imperial Valley, the land has dropped more than 25 feet (7.6 meters) due to underground water being removed from the area. Unless the pumping of underground water and oil is stopped, the land will continue to sink. 

Why do houses fall into sinkholes?
Houses that sit upon limestone rock have the proclivity to fall into sinkholes. As underground water wears away the limestone rock, it creates underground caverns. If the water wears away too much limestone, the cavern may collapse, taking anything 
on the surface with it. A sinkhole is just one of the many reasons to have your home inspected by a geologist.


What are latitude and longitude lines?

Lines of latitude and longitude make up a grid system that was developed to help determine the location of points on the Earth. These lines run both north and south and east and west across the planet. Lines of latitude (those that run east and west) begin at the equator, which is zero degrees. They extend to the North Pole and the South Pole, which are 90 degrees north and 90 degrees south, respectively. Lines of longitude (those that run north and south) begin at the Prime Meridian, which is the imaginary line that runs through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. The lines of longitude extend both east and west from the Prime Meridian, which is zero degrees, and converge on the opposite side of the Earth at 180 degrees.

Are lines of longitude and latitude all the same length?

Only the lines of longitude are of equal length. Each line of longitude equals half of the circumference of the Earth because each extends from the North Pole to the South Pole. The lines of latitude are not all equal in length. Since they are each complete circles that remain equidistant from each other, the lines of latitude vary in size from the longest at the equator to the smallest, which are just single points, at the North and South Poles.

How wide is a degree of longitude?

Though there are only a couple dozen lines of longitude shown on most globes and world maps, the Earth is actually divided into 360 lines of longitude. The distance between each line of longitude is called a degree. Because the lines of longitude are widest at the equator and converge at the Poles, the width of a degree varies from 69 miles (111 kilometers) wide to zero, respectively.

How wide is a degree of latitude?

Though there are only about a dozen lines of latitude shown on most globes and world
, the Earth is actually divided into 180 lines of latitude. The distance between each line of latitude is called a degree.Each degree is an equal distance apart, at 69 miles (111 kilometers).

What do minutes and seconds have to do with longitude and latitude?

Each degree of longitude and latitude is divided into 60 minutes. Each minute is divided into 60 seconds. An absolute location is written using degrees (°), minutes ('), and seconds (") of both longitude and latitude. Thus, the Statue of Liberty is located at 40°41'22" North, 74°2'40" West.

Which comes first, latitude or longitude?

Latitude is written before longitude. Latitude is written with a number, followed by either “north” or “south” depending on whether it is located north or south of the equator. Longitude is written with a number, followed by either “east” or “west” depending on whether it is located east or west of the Prime Meridian.

Why was computing longitude so difficult?

It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that clocks were fabricated in such a way that they could accurately tell time both on land and at sea. The only way of determining how far east or west one could go is by plotting the stars in two locations and recording the exact time in both locations simultaneously, and then recording the time and position at the destination. As clocks became more accurate, the ability to measure speed and distance became possible.

How can I remember which way latitude and longitude run?

You can remember that the lines of latitude run east and west by thinking of lines of latitude as rungs on a ladder (“ladder-tude”). Lines of longitude are quite “long” because they run from the North Pole to the South Pole.

How can a gazetteer help me find latitude and longitude?

A gazetteer is an index that lists the latitude and longitude of places within a specific region or across the entire world. Many atlases include a gazetteer, and some are published separately

How can I find the latitude and longitude of a particular place?

To find latitude and longitude of a particular location, you will need to consult either a
gazetteer or a computer database that includes longitude and latitude data. Though
gazetteers are readily accessible, they don’t include as many places as online databases. There are a number of sites on the Internet that have extensive databases of latitude and longitude and even include such specific places as public buildings.

Why was the Prime Meridian established at Greenwich?

In 1675, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, was established to study determination of longitude. In 1884, an international conference established the Prime Meridian as the longitudinal line that passes through the Royal Observatory. The United Kingdom and United States had been using Greenwich as the Prime Meridian for several decades before the conference.



Tuesday, 9 February 2016











Wednesday, 3 February 2016


District Magistrate
However, it is the District Magistrate who is in-charge of the whole district administration. This post is also named as Deputy Commissioner, District Collector or Upayukta. He/She belongs to the Indian Adminstrative Service (IAS). District administration is responsible to implement the policies and programmes of the State and Central governments. Especially after independence, the district administration is responsible not only for collection of revenue or taxes and maintenance of law and order, but is also for various activities related to welfare and socio-economic development of the district.

District had been an important unit of administration since long. During the British colonial period, it was mainly responsible for maintaining law and order and collection of revenues. But at present, state administration has been decentralized and the district administration is playing multi-faceted role. The District Magistrate, therefore, has been assigned various important powers and functions to perform on behalf of the State government. The main functions of District Magistrate are as follows: 

1. maintaining law and order and ensuring peace in the district;
2. implementing various policies and programmes of the State government and the
Central government;
3. acting as the main link between State government and district level institutions and offices;
4. co-ordinating the activities of different departments such as education, health,welfare, land management, police, jail and culture;
5. taking adequate and appropriate measures during emergencies and disasters and
conducting relief work;
6. ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections for various representative bodies,such as Lok Sabha,Vidhan Sabha, Block Samities, Zila Parishad, Municipalities,etc.;
7. managing collection of the revenue and other taxes;
8. performing judicial functions and deciding various disputes and even imposing penalties and fines;
9. listening to the grievances of the people and redressing them.

 Sub Divisional Officer
For better administration each district is divided into smaller units called Sub Divisions. Although the sub divisions of the district are under the District Magistrate, an officer called the Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) is made in-charge of this unit. The SDO is there to assist the District Magistrate in the field of administration and also works as his/her representative.

 The SDO belongs to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or to the cadre of State Civil Service. He/She keeps the land records and collects land revenue. He/She has the power to issue licenses for armed weapons like guns and pistols, and is also authorized for the issuance of Driving License, Certificates regarding the domicile, Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes and other Backward Classes.

The Block Development Officer
The Block is the unit of administration at the lowest level. The officer in-charge of the Block is called Block Development Officer (BDO). He/She belongs to State Civil Service cadre and looks after various activities of the Block. The BDO is linked with the middle tier of Panchayati Raj as he/she is the ex-officio Secretary of the Panchayat Samiti and keeps the record of the meetings, prepares budget and coordinates various developmental activities.



Cities which do not have very large population have Municipalities known as Municipal Councils to look after the local cities, their problems and developmental work. After the 74thAmendment, the constitution of Municipalities is obligatory for every concerned city. Every Municipal Council has Councillors who are elected by the adult voters of the city for 5 years. Only those persons can be elected as Councillors who fulfill the conditions laid down by the State Election Commission. If in any case, the Municipal Council gets dissolved before completing the full term of 5 years, the elections for a new Municipal Council will have to be held within six months.

 Chairperson or President of the Municipal Council is elected by the Councillors from among the elected members. Chairperson holds the office till he/ she enjoys the confidence of the majority of the elected members. Every Municipal Council has an Executive Officer who is appointed by the State government. He/She looks after the day-to-day work and also the administration. The Health Officer, Tax Superintendent, Civil Engineer are the other important officers.

Functions of the Municipal Council
Functions of the Municipal Council are as follows:

1. Health and Sanitation - Managing cleanliness of the town, disposal of garbage,prevention of sale of unhygienic and adulterated food items, and maintenance of dispensaries or hospitals;

2. Electricity and Water Supply - Ensuring supply of electricity and safe drinking water, maintaining water tanks and also water tankers;

3. Education - Maintaining and running of primary schools and literacy centres.

4. Birth and Death Records - Keeping the records regarding registration of birth and deaths in the city/town and also issuing the certificates for the same;

5. Public Works - Paving of streets, repairing and maintenance of municipal roads,
construction and maintenance of Barat Ghars, Community Halls, Markets, Public facilities etc.

 Sources of Income
No work can be done without money. Municipal Councils have got different sources of income. These sources can be grouped as under:

 Taxes: Taxes on properties, vehicles, entertainment and advertisement;

 Rents and fees/charges: Charges for water supply, sewer system; Licenses fees, Rents of the community Halls, Barat Ghars and Shops etc.;

 Grants from the State government;

 Fines: Fines from the tax offenders, law breakers, on encroachments etc.

Nagar Panchayats
An urban centre with more than 30,000 and less than 100,000 inhabitants has a Nagar Panchayat. However, there are some exceptions. All the previous Town Area Committees (urban centres with a total population of more than 5,000 and less than 20,000) are designated as Nagar Panchayats. It is composed of a Chairperson and Ward Members. It may have a minimum of ten elected Ward Members and three nominated Members. Like other municipal bodies, Nagar Panchayat is responsible for 

(a) Cleanliness and disposal of garbage; 
(b) Supply of drinking water; 
(c) Maintenance of public amenities like street lights, parking space and public conveniences; 
(d) Setting up and maintaining fire services; and
 (e) Registration of deaths and births. Its sources of income are: Taxes such as house tax, water tax, toll tax; License fees and fee for approving building plans; Rents collected by renting Barat Ghars and other properties; and Grant-in- Aid from the State government.



Municipal Corporations are established in big cities according to the provisions made in the Acts enacted by the State Legislatures. The Councillors of Municipal Corporations are elected for 5 years. The elected Councillors elect one of them as Mayor annually. The Mayor is known as the first citizen of the city. The 74th Constitutional Amendment has provided for reservation of not less than 1/3rd of the total seats for women. 

There is also a provision of reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections in proportion to their population. Out of these reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, one-third would be reserved for women belonging to these communities. In the event of dissolution of Municipal Corporation, the elections will be held within six months. There is an official post of Municipal Commissioner, who is the Chief Executive Officer and is appointed by the State government. In case of Union Territories like Delhi it is done by the Central government.

                                                    Municipal Corporation

Functions of the Municipal Corporations

The main functions of the Municipal Corporation are as follows:
1. Health and Sanitation: Responsible for cleanliness of the city, disposal of garbage; maintenance of hospitals and dispensaries; promoting and conducting vaccination drives; checking of adulteration etc.

2. Electricity and Water Supply: Provision and maintenance of street lights, supply of electricity, supply of safe drinking water; construction of infrastructure and providing facilities for water supply, maintenance of water tankers etc.

3. Educational: Establishment of primary schools, provision of mid-day meals and other facilities for the children.

4. Public works: Construction, maintenance and naming of roads; framing rules for the constructions of houses, markets, restaurants and hotels; removing of encroachments and demolition of dangerous buildings.

5. Miscellaneous functions: Maintaining record of Births & Deaths; provision and
maintenance of cremation grounds/burial grounds, night shelters; making arrangements of scooter & taxi stands and public facilities.

6. Discretionary functions:
(a) Entertainment: Provision of parks, auditoriums etc.;

(b) Cultural: Organizing music, dramas, painting and other art shows; and
activities like maintaince of libraries and museums;

(c) Sports Activities: Provision of play grounds for various games and also
arranging sports competitions & tournaments;

(d) Welfare Services: Setting up and maintaining Community halls; running
public distribution system; implementing family welfare schemes and also
schemes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes &
backward classes.

 Main Functions of Mayor
Mayor is the elected as the head of the Municipal Corporation and performs the following important functions:

  •  presides over the meetings of the Corporation and maintains decorum and discipline in the meetings;

  •  acts as a link between Councillors and the State government;

  •  receives foreign dignitaries visiting the city.

 Sources of Income of Municipal Corporation

Like Panchayati Raj System, Muncipal System also requires funds for the development
and welfare activities in its area. Provision is made in the Municipal Act for generating
the required funds. Some of the sources of income are as follows:

 Income from taxes: Municipal Corporation imposes taxes on various items such
as – house tax, entertainment tax, tax on hoardings and advertisements,
registration fees, tax on building plans etc.

 Other fees and charges: These include water supply charges, electricity charges,
sewer charges, license fee from shop keepers, and toll tax and octoroi duty.

 Grants-in-Aid: State government and Union government provide grants-in-aid
for various projects and programmes related to development.

 Income from Rents: Corporations rent out the properties and get rent for various
shops, kiosks, community centres, Barat Ghars and various sites for fairs,
marriages or other exhibitions.


As Panchayati Raj System is meant for rural area, similarly there are institutions of urban
local government. There are three types of urban local bodies – 
(a) Municipal Corporations for the big cities, 
(b) Municipal Councils for all other cities with smaller population and 
(c) Nagar Panchayats for transitional areas (semi urban areas). 

But a significant difference between Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and the urban local bodies is that while the PRIs are closely linked with one another, the urban local bodies are independent. In one State there may be all the three types of urban local bodies: in one big city a Municipal Corporation, in another small city a Municipal Council and in yet another small town a Nagar Panchayat. But they are not linked with one another.

It was during the British colonial rule that the first urban local government came into
existence in 1688 when a Municipal Corporation was formed in the city of Madras (now known as Chennai). Later on, similar bodies were formed for the administration at Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai). At that time these municipalities were formed to help in the matter of sanitation and prevent epidemics. These Local bodies also had a few civic functions like managing water supply and drainage. 

But theses bodies were not given the required powers, finance and authority. Initially most of the members were nominated. Our national leaders also had felt the importance and need of such an organization for the local administration and linked these bodies to the planned development of the country. But nothing fruitful could be achieved without finance and the finance was missing. But even then this system proved to be an effective tool of administration. During the British rule many changes were made in urban local bodies. Gradually certain structural changes were made, powers of the local bodies were enhanced and some funds were also provided.

After independence four types of urban local bodies were functioning: 
(i) Municipal Corporations, (ii) Municipalities, (iii) Town Area Committees and (iv) Notified Area Committees. 

But the 74th Constitutional Amendment 1992 brought about major changes in the system of urban local government. Now three types of urban local governments are functioning: 

(a) Municipal Corporations for the big cities, 
(b) Municipal Councils for smaller cities and 
(c) Nagar Panchayats for those areas that are in transition from rural areas to urban areas.

 The 74th Constituional Amendment 1992

  • As stated above, the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992 brought about significant changes in the structure and functioning of urban local government. The following points are noteworthy:
  • Constitution of urban local bodies (namely, Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council, and Nagar Panchayat) in every Indian State;
  • Constitution of Wards Committees within the territorial area of a municipality, to ensure people’s participation in civic affairs at the grass-root level;

  • Regular and fair conduct of municipal elections by State Election Commissions;  provision for supersession of municipal governments for not more than 6 months;  

  • Adequate representation of weaker sections (i.e., Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes) of the society and women in municipal governments through reservation of seats;
  •  Specification by law, through the State Legislatures, of the powers (including financial) and functional responsibilities to be entrusted to municipalities and wards committees;
  • Constitution of State Finance Commissions, once in every 5 years, to review the financial position of municipalities and to make recommendations on the measures needed to improve their financial position; and
  • Constitution of a District Planning Committee at the district level and a Metropolitan Planning Committee in metropolitan areas of every State, for the preparation and consolidation of development plans.



Zila Parishad is at the apex, being the third tier of Panchayati Raj System. It is situated at the district level. Zila Parishad also has a term of 5 years. Some of its members are directly elected and the Chairpersons of the Panchayat Samitis are ex-officio members. MPs and MLAs belonging to the district are also the members of Zila Parishad. Chairperson of the Zila Parishad is elected from the directly elected members. Not less than 1/3rd of the offices and seats are reserved for the women members. Seats are also reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Functions of the Zila Parishad

The following are the major functions of the Zila Parishad, though you may find some
variations across the States:

1. providing essential services and facilities to the rural population, planning and executing the development programmes for the district;

2. supplying improved seeds to farmers, informing them of new techniques of farming, undertaking construction of small-scale irrigation projects and percolation tanks, and maintaining pastures and grazing lands;

3. setting up and running schools in villages, executing programmes for adult literacy, and running libraries;

4. starting Primary Health Centers and hospitals in villages, managing mobile hospitals for hamlets, conducting vaccination drives against epidemics and family welfare campaigns;

5. executing plans for the development of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes,
running ashram for adivasi children, and setting up free hostels for scheduled caste

6. encouraging entrepreneurs to start small scale industries like cottage industries,
handicrafts, agriculture products, processing mills, dairy farms, etc., and implementing rural employment schemes; and

7. constructing roads, schools and also taking care of the public properties;

Sources of Income of Zila Parshad
As you have seen, the Zila Parishad performs a number of important functions. For exciting them it needs money. This is arranged through its sources of income that are as follows:

1. income from taxes levied by Zila Parishad, license fees and market fees;

2. a share is given to Zila Parishad from the collected land revenue;

3. income from various properties of Zila Praishad;

4. grants from the State and Central governments; and

5. funds allotted by the State for developmental activities.


Panchayat Samiti is the intermediate or the middle tier of the Panchayati Raj System. These are named differently in different States. Its organization and functions also vary as these are determined by the Act passed by the concerned State. It coordinates all the activities of the Panchayats in a Block. A Panchayat Samiti is constituted by the following members:
  • All the Sarpanches (Mukhias) or Chairpersons of the Gram Panchayats within the Block
  • MPs, MLAs and MLCs of that Block
  • Some directly elected Members
  • The elected Members of Zila Parishad from that Block
  • Some Officers of that Block

NOTE: A Panchayat Samiti is created at the Block level. Each Block consists of the areas of several Panchayats. In different States it is known by different names:
in Andhra Pradesh Mandal Praja Parishad, Assam the Anchalik Panchayat, Gujarat the Taluka Panchayat, Karnataka the Mandal Panchayat, Madhya Pradesh the Janapada Panchayat, Tamil Nadu, the Panchayat Union Council, and Uttar Pradesh the Kshetra Samiti. However, its most popular name happens to be Panchayat Samiti.

The term of each Panchayat Samiti is five years in all States. In its very first meeting,
each Panchayat Samiti elects two of its members as Chairperson and ViceChairperson. Chairpersonships of at least 1/3rd Panchayat Samities stand reserved for women members. Likewise, some of the offices of Chairperson are reserved for members belonging to Scheduled Castes. The tenure of the Chairperson is coterminous with the tenure of the Panchayat Samiti. The members of a Panchayat Samiti can remove the Chairperson by passing a resolution supported by 2/3rd majority. A Panchayat Samiti usually meets at least six times in one year. There cannot be a gap of more than two months between its two meetings. A meeting of Panchayat Samiti is either ordinary or special. The date of every meeting is fixed by the Chairperson of the Panchayat Samiti and in his/her absence by the Vice-Chairperson. Its chief administrative officer is Block Development Officer popularly known as BDO.

 Functions of Panchayat Samiti

Panchayat Samiti performs a number of functions. Some important functions are:
agriculture, land improvement, watershed development, social and farm forestry, and technical and vocational education. Besides, the Panchayat Samiti implements certain
schemes and programmes for which specific funds are allocated by the State
government or Central government. It promotes and coordinates different development
programmes of its areas. It also has the responsibilities like 

(a) provision of drinking water in the villages, 
(b) development and repair of rural roads,
(c) framing of rules and regulations for the markets, 
(d) provision of improved seeds and chemical fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural tools and implements, 
(e) promotion of cottage industries such as handlooms, handicrafts, traditional art and artisans, 
(f) the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes and other backward classes, and 
(g) promotion of the self employment schemes in the rural areas.

Sources of Income

The main source of income of Panchayat Samiti is the Grants given by the State
government. Besides, it also levies taxes, levies and receives a fixed percentage of
land revenue.


A. Organisation
Village Panchayat also called Gram Panchayat is the grass root institution of Panchayati Raj System. At village level there is a Gram Sabha or Village Assembly and a Gram Panchayat having a Chairperson known as Gram Pradhan or Sarpanch (Mukhia), a Vice Chairperson and some Panches. In fact, the Village Panchayats are organized and they function according to the Act passed by every State government. That is why, you may find variations in different States. But mostly, the Panchayati Raj Institutions are organized and they function as follows: 

Gram Sabha or Village Assembly consists of all the adults i.e. voters (persons above the age of 18 years) living in the area of a Gram Panchayat i.e., village or a group of small villages. The Gram Sabha has now been recognized as a legal body. It acts like the legislative body. In one year at least two meetings of the Gram Sabha are held. In its first meeting the Gram Sabha considers the budget of the Gram Panchayat. In its second meeting it considers the reports of the Gram Panchayat. The main functions of Gram Sabha are to review the annual accounts of Panchayat, discuss audit and administrative reports and the tax proposals of its Panchayat and accept community service, voluntary labour and schemes for Panchayat. The members of Gram Sabha elect the members and also the Chairperson of Gram Panchayat. The States have to ensure that all the Gram Sabhas in their respective areas are functional.

The Village Panchayat or Gram Panchayat is the executive committee of Gram Sabha. It is the most important unit of rural local self-government. As we have seen, all the members of each Gram Sabha are voters who elect the members of the Panchayat by a secret ballot. In most of the States, a Village Panchayat has 5 to 9 members who are called Panches. In every Panchayat, one-third of the seats are reserved for women. However, there are States where the percentage of seats reserved for women is even more. Seats are also reserved for persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Sarpanch (Mukhia) of the Panchayat is directly elected by all the voters of the village. Some offices of Sarpanches are now reserved for women, and some for persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Sarpanch calls the meetings of the Panchayat and presides over those meetings. He/She is to call at least one meeting of the Panchayat per month.
The Panches can also request him/her for calling a special meeting. He/She has to
call such special meeting within three days of the request. Sarpanch keeps the records
of the meetings of Panchayat. The Panchayat can assign any special function to him/
her. A Vice Chairperson is elected by the members of the Panchayat. The tenure
of the Village Panchayat is of 5 years.

B. Functions of Gram Panchayats
All the major functions of Gram Panchayat are related to the welfare and development of the village. With a view to fulfill the needs and requirements of the villagers every Gram Panchayat has to perform some important functions such as provision of safe drinking water, paving of streets, developing and maintaining good drainage system, ensuring cleanliness of the village, upkeep of street lights, dispensary, etc. These functions are known as obligatory functions. Some other functions are discretionary and can be performed, if the Panchayat has the resources and funds. These are plantation of trees, setting up and maintenance of insemination centre for cattle, developing and maintaining play ground for sports and setting up and running the library. From time to time some other functions can be assigned to Panchayats by the State government or Union government. But along with these functions of Panchayats, every member of the village also has the duty towards his/ her village. One should keep the surroundings of his /her home clean, not waste drinking water and plant more and more trees.

C. Sources of Income of Gram Panchayats
Financial resources are essential for performance of the functions by Panchayats, whether these are obligatory functions or developmental work. Gram Panchayats can work better, if they have adequate funds to spend. Over and above the Grants-inaid, State governments have empowered Panchayats to levy taxes and collect funds. Some of the sources are as follows:
1. taxes on property, land, goods and cattle;
2. rent collected for facilities like Barat Ghar or any other property of panchayat;
3. various types of fines collected from the offenders;
4. grants-in- aid from the State government and Union government;
5. a part of the land revenue collected by the State government given to the Panchayats; and
6. donations collected from the villagers for some common cause.



Panchayats used to be the seat of justice.Local disputes and other problems were referred to Panchayats and their decisions used to be respected by one and all. Our national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi had a firm faith in this system. The Constitution makers also considered this system to be very important and made provisions for it in the Directive Principles of State Policy. The Constitution states that the State shall take steps to organize Village Panchayats and empower them with such powers and authorities as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of local self government.

As a follow up, the present day Panchayats began functioning under the Community Development Programme introduced during the first Five year Plan. To make the system more effective a Committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Balwant Rai Mehta that went into its details. 

The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee in its report submitted in 1957 recommended the establishment of a three-tier Panchayati Raj System: Gram Panchayats at the village level, the Panchayat Samitis at the block level or intermediate level and the Zila Parishad at the district level. In 1958, the National Development Council also recommended a similar structure of local government where village was at the bottom of the system and district at the top. However, it is the 73rd Constitutional Amendment 1992 that provided the present shape to the Panchayati Raj System. Now the Panchayati Raj Institutions in most of the States have been set up at three levels, village, intermediate and district levels. But in smaller States having a population of less than 20 lakh, there are only two tiers, the village level and the district level

                                            The three tier structure of Panchayati Raj System

 The 73rd Constitutional Amendment 1992
The passage of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 marks a new era in the federal democratic set up of the country and provides constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). The main features of the Act are: 

(i) establishment of a three-tier structure: Village Panchayat (Gram Panchayat); intermediate panchayat (Panchayat Samiti; and the district panchayat (Zila Parishad);

(ii) regular elections, every five years;

(iii) reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population;

(iv) not less than one-third reservation of seats for women at three different levels of PRIs;

(v) establishment of State Finance Commissions to recommend measures to improve the finances of panchayats;

(vi) establishment of State Election Commissions to conduct election to the PRIs;

(vii) establishment of District Planning Committees to prepare development plans for the districts;

(viii) preparation of plans for economic development and social justice and their execution concerning 29 subjects listed in the 11th Schedule of the Constitution;

(ix) establishment of Grama Sabha (village assemblies) and their empowerment as a decision making body at the village level; and

(x) rotation in accordance with the reservation of seats for women and the Scheduled Castes in the PRIs.

By the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, the Panchayati Raj Institutions have been given such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function. It contains provisions for devolution of powers and responsibilities related to 
(a) the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice; and 
(b) the implementation of such schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them.

NOTE: Consequent upon the enactment of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, almost all the States/UTs, except J&K, NCT Delhi and Uttaranchal have enacted their legislation. Moreover, almost all the States/UTs have held local body elections. As a result, 2,32,278 Panchayats at village level; 6,022 Panchayats at intermediate level and 535 Panchayats at district level have been constituted in the country. These Panchayats are being manned by about 29.2 lakh elected representatives of Panchayats at all levels. This is the broadest representative base that exists in any country of the world.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Quit India Movement and After
The failure of the Cripps Mission made the Indians frustrated and embittered. It was 
felt that time had now come for launching another mass movement against the British rule. Discontent of Indian people was increasing due to wartime shortages and growing unemployment. There was a constant danger of Japanese attack. The Indian leaders were convinced that India would be a victim of Japanese aggression only because of British presence in India. Gandhiji said, “the presence of the British in India is an invitation to Japan to invade India”. Subhash Chandra Bose, who escaped from India in 1941, repeatedly spoke over radio from Berlin arousing anti-British feeling which gave rise to pro-Japanese sentiments. 

The Congress under Gandhiji felt that the British must be compelled to accept Indian demands or quit the country. A meeting of the Congress Working Committee in
Wardha passed the Quit India Resolution on 14th July, 1942 which was later endorsed and passed on 8th August at the Bombay session of the Congress. The Congress decided to launch a mass struggle on non-violent lines, on the widest possible scale. Addressing the Congress delegates on the night of 8th August, Gandhiji, in his soul stirring speech, said:

“I therefore want freedom immediately, this very night before dawn if it can
be had …..I am not going to be satisfied with anything short of complete
freedom. Here is a ‘mantra’, a short one that I give you. You may imprint
on your hearts and let every breath of yours give expression to it. The
‘mantra’ is ‘Do or Die’. We shall either free India or die in the attempt. We
shall not live to see the perpetuation of slavery.”

But before the Congress leaders could start the movement formally, all important
leaders of Congress were arrested before the dawn of 9th August 1942. Congress was banned and declared as an illegal organization. The Press was censored. The news of the arrest of popular leaders shocked the nation. Their anger and resentment was expressed through numerous agitations, hartals, processions and demonstrations in all parts of the country. With most of the important leaders in jail, the movement took a different shape at different places. 

The people gave vent to their anger by burning government buildings, police stations, post offices anything that symbolized British authority. Railways and telegraphs lines were disconnected. At some places, such as in Balia district in U.P., Midnapore district of West Bengal and in Satara in Bombay, the revolt took a serious turn. Inspired by the ‘mantra’ of Gandhiji people were ready to make the supreme sacrifice. 

The British with its army and police came down heavily on the Indian people. The people were shot indiscriminately. The Quit India Movement became one of the greatest mass-movements of historical significance. It demonstrated the depth of national sentiments
and indicated the capacity of the Indian people for sacrifice and determined struggle.
After this movement there was no retreat. Independence of India was no longer a
matter of bargain. It was to be a reality.

At the end of the World War in 1945, the British government started to talk about the transfer of power to Indian Hindus and Muslims. The first round of talks could not be successful because Muslim leaders thought that the Muslim League was the only one who could represent Indian Muslims. The Congress did not agree upon it. In 1946, the Cabinet Mission arrived in India to find a mutually agreed solution of the Indian Problem. The Mission held talks with the leaders of all prominent political parties and then proposed its plan of establishing Federal Government in India. Initially the plan was criticized by all political parties, but later all gave their consent to it. When the election to the Constituent Assembly took place, the Congress won one hundred ninety nine seats and the Muslim league won seventy three.

 Partition and Independence of India

Differences soon arose between the Congress and the Muslim League concerning the powers of the Constituent Assembly. The League rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan in the middle of 1946. In September 1946, the Congress formed the government at the Centre. The League refused to be a part to it. Muslim League celebrated this day as a ‘Direct Action Day’ on 16th August 1946 to attain Pakistan. 

The conflict resulted in widespread communal riots in different parts of India. Thousands were killed in the riots, lacks of people became homeless. In the mean time, Lord Mountbatten was sent as the Viceroy to India. He put up his plan in June 1947 which included partition of India. In spite of strong opposition by Gandhi, all the parties agreed to the partition and the Indian Independence Act, 1947 came into being. It created two independent states in the Indian sub-continent, i.e. Indian Union and Pakistan. India got its independence on 15th August, 1947. At the stroke of midnight (14th -15th August, 1947), transfer of power took place.


The British Government prepared a White Paper in March, 1933. On the basis of this White Paper, a Bill was prepared and introduced in parliament in December, 1934. The Bill was finally passed as the Government of India Act on August 2, 1935. The most conspicuous feature of the Act of 1935 was the concept of an All India Federation comprising the Provinces of British India and the Princely States. It was compulsory for the Provinces to join the proposed federation. 

For the Princely States it was voluntary. The members from the provinces were to be elected, while the representatives of the States were to be nominated by the rulers. Only 14 percent of the population in British India had the right to vote. The powers of the Legislature were confined and restricted. It had no control over defense and foreign relations. The Act protected British vested interests, discouraging the emergence of national unity, rather encouraging separation and communalism. All nationalists, including Nehru and Jinnah, condemned the Act.

The Congress session met in Lucknow on 25th April, 1935. Though the Act was
condemned, it was decided to contest the elections to resist British imperialism and to end the various regulations, ordinances and Acts, which were initiated against Indian Nationalism. In the 1937 elections the Congress swept the poll. Congress Ministries were formed in seven out of the eleven provinces. On March 18, 1937, the All India Congress Committee adopted a resolution on Congress policies in the legislatures. 

It claimed that the Congress had contested the elections “with its objective of independence and its total rejection of the new constitution, and the demand for a Constituent Assembly to frame India’s constitution. The declared Congress policy was to combat the New Act and end it”. The immediate effect of the coming of the Congress Ministries was a feeling of relief. Political prisoners were released and a large measure of civil liberty was established. Agrarian legislation was also passed and this provided considerable relief to the peasantry. Basic education was intended to be made free and compulsory for every child.

 National Movement during the Second World War
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the Congress attitude was one of sympathy, though it refused unconditional cooperation. The Congress demanded that “India must be declared an independent union, and present application must be given to this status to the largest possible extent”. The British did not agree and as a result all the ministries resigned in protest in 1939. A demand for Provisional National Government at the Centre was made at the instance of C. Rajagopalachari in 1940. It was turned down by the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow. In October, 1940 was launched the Civil Disobedience Campaign. Acharya Vinoba Bhave was the first to offer individual Satyagraha.

All India Committee of the Cabinet, with Attlee as Chairperson, was set up and a draft declaration was made. In March, 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps came to India with the draft declaration. It stated the British Government’s desire to grant India ‘Dominion Status’ at the end of the war. Complete Independence was not promised. There was no mention of a national government of the Indian people. The Congress rejected the offer. The Muslim League, opposed to the creation of a single union, found the scheme unacceptable, as it did not unequivocally concede Pakistan. The Cripps Mission failed.

The struggle for independence was carried on by Subhash Chandra Bose from abroad. He found the outbreak of the Second World War to be a convenient opportunity to strike a blow for the freedom of India. Bose had been put under house arrest in 1940 but he managed to escape to Berlin on March 28, 1941. The Indian community there acclaimed him as the leader (Netaji). He was greeted with ‘Jai Hind’ (Salute to the motherland). He tried to raise an Indian army and urge his country people to rise in arms against the British. 

In 1942, the Indian Independence League was formed and a decision was taken to form the Indian National Army (INA) for the liberation of India. On an invitation from Ras Bihari Bose, Subhash Chandra Bose came to East Asia on June 13, 1943. He was made president of the Indian Independence League and the leader of the INA popularly called ‘Azad Hind Fauj’.
He gave the famous battle cry ‘Chalo Dilli’. He promised independence to Indians saying, ‘tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe Azadi dunga’ (You give me blood, I will give you freedom). 

In March 1944, the Indian flag was hoisted at Kohima. Unfortunately, after that the movement collapsed. What happened to Netaji remains a mystery. It is said that he lost his life in an air crash in August 1945. But it could not be ascertained. The INA continued to occupy an honored place in India’s freedom struggle. The intense patriotism of Bose and the soldiers of the INA proved a tremendous source of inspiration for the Indian people.


The reactionary policy of the British developed a deep hatred towards them among a section of the younger generation of India. They believed that India could achieve
independence only by an organized revolutionary movement. As a result, they organized secret groups to launch revolutionary activities against the British. Youths were trained in aggressive methods of violence as a means of strength against the British. They attempted killing of unpopular British officials, committed dacoities to finance their activities and looted arms. Many of them, therefore, chose the path of violence to gain independence for India. They were called the revolutionaries. 

The centres of their activities were Punjab, Maharashtra, Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. Prominent among these revolutionaries were Khudiram Bose, Prafulla Chaki, Bhupendra Nath Dutt, V. D. Savarkar, Sardar Ajit Singh, Lala Hardayal and his Gadar Party, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru, Sukh Deo, Chandra Shekhar Azad, etc. 

These revolutionaries organized secret societies, murdered many British officers, disrupted railway traffic, engaged in organized attack on British wealth. In order to overturn the British Rule through arms, Kakori Conspiracy was planned by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan and other team members of the Hindustan Republican Association in 1925.

 In 1928, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association was formed by Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt and others. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb inside the Central Legislative Assembly on 8thApril, 1929 protesting against the passage of the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Bill while raising slogans of Inquilab Zindabad (long live the revolution), though no one was killed or injured in the bomb incident. Following the trial in court of this and other cases, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged in 1931. Their sacrifice provided an incentive to the people. They were regarded martyrs and became the symbol of national unity and aspirations.

A significant feature of the twentieth century was the development of Socialist ideas in Congress and outside it. Peasants now started asking for land reforms, abolition of zamindari system and reduction in the revenue and debt relief. The All India Trade Union Congress which was founded in 1920 worked towards improvement in the workers’ working and living condition. It mobilized the workers to the cause of complete independence which helped the movement to be broad based. Some of the prominent socialist and communist leaders were M.N. Roy, S.A. Dange, Abani Mukhopadhyaya, Nalini Gupta, Muzaffar Ahmed, Shaukat Usmani, Gulam Hussain, Singaravelu Chettair, G.M. Adhikari and P.C. Joshi. 

They outlined the course of the revolution through transformation of individual strike into a general political strike, the development of spontaneous peasant movements, a nationwide movement for complete independence, as well as the spread of revolutionary propaganda amongst the police and the army. Struggle against imperialism was the rallying slogan. In 1936, when Nehru was the President of the Congress, he declared at the Lucknow Session
that the solution to India’s problems lay in the adoption of socialist ideas. Nehru was
deeply influenced by Karl Marx. Even Subhash Chandra Bose was influenced by
socialist ideas. Because of differences with Gandhi, Bose resigned from the Congress
and formed his own ‘Forward Bloc’.

The policy of divide and rule was inaugurated right in the days of East India Company when the Britishers were establishing themselves as rulers of India. You have read how the Company set one Indian ruler against the other and ultimately it became the undisputable ruler. You have seen that, in the latter half of the 19th Century, Nationalism started growing. Now the British government found it prudent to vitalize their policies of divide and rule and drive a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims. The British had looked upon the Muslims with disfavor and suspicion since the revolt of 1857. But now they realized that in order to counteract the growing Nationalism, time had come to appease the Muslims. The Government seized every opportunity to set the Indians against one another on the basis of religion and creating hostility between them. Ultimately, in accordance with this policy, separate electorates for Muslims were established. You have read about the formation of the Muslims League which sowed the seeds of communalism. You will remember that the league had been formed on the encouragement of British officials.

The Communal Award of 1932 was a continuance of this policy, because it allowed
separate electorates and reservation of seats to the depressed classes also. Separate
electorates were first demanded by the Muslims in 1906 and introduced for them under the Morley-Minto Reforms of 1907. This was done with a view to building up Muslim communalism as a counterpoise against Indian Nationalism. Under the Montford Reforms (1919) they were extended for Sikhs, Europeans, Anglo-Indians, Indian Christians, etc. Under the Act of 1935 seventeen separate electorates were constituted. In reality, communal electorates were an unmixed evil. They hampered the growth of national unity. The two-nation theory appeared in 1938 and was clearly communicated by Jinnah in 1940. Once, the demand for Pakistan was made, it received direct and indirect encouragement from British authorities. The immediate cause of the emergence of the demand for Pakistan was the refusal of the Congress to form coalition ministries after the elections of 1937. The county seemed to be drifting towards anarchy and ruin. Under the circumstances, partition was accepted as a ‘necessary evil’, the only way of getting rid of British rule and preventing a complete breakdown of law and order.