Social Scientist. v 6, no. 61 (Aug 1977) p. 85.

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Macmillan, Madras 1977. 312 pp. Rs 29.

THIS BOOK is the first attempt to detail the statewise development of panchayati raj in India. G Ram Reddy, in the introductory essay, presents an overview of the system by highlighting the similarities and differences in various states. In the subsequent essays, the historical development of the panchayati raj institutions in each state is documented, the structure and goals outlined and success of the system with respect to the stated objectives is evaluated.

The major conclusion is that though the degree of participation in panchayat elections has increased, a system of self-government as envisaged by the advocates of the panchayati raj institutions has by no means been established. Factors leading to this non-development of self-government are: 1) domination of panchayati raj institutions by elite groups with vested interests; 2) operational significance to those institutions with non-elected members, namely gram sabha has become a mere okaying body in most states; 3) heavy dependence on the state for finances; and 4) domination of non-officials by the state bureaucracy.

Overall, the book is very informative on the details of the structure of panchayti raj institutions in each state. The description of the historical evolution of these institutions is also interesting and informative. But any study on the evolution of the panchayati raj system and its success is incomplete without a deeper and more thorough analysis of the forms of economic domination by certain classes in the Indian rural society. In other words, an analysis of the relationship between economic domination and social participation must be incorporated in studies such as the present one.


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