With the budgetary cut from Rs.7,000 crore to Rs. 96 crore last financial year,Panchayati Raj ministry is under existential threat.While it has created panic in some quarters, it would be unfair to come to any conclusion before we know what Government plans to do with this ministry in future.However,the budgetary cut has severely impaired present programmes for capacity building of panchayats across the nation.
Those who support a full-fledged ministry for PRIs articulate that for truly implementing 73rd amendment and hence deepening grass root democracy in the country,we need a dedicated ministry.Panchayats are the locus around which village development revolves, be it building roads,drains,toilets etc or implementing flagship health and education schemes.Since panchayats role is so crucial and its job so versatile,it needs capacity building.
But those who are fine with Panchayati raj ministry being demoted to just a department of Ministry of Rural Development can argue that the present functions of PR ministry can be performed by a department.In fact,it would streamline rural development with the elimination of inter-ministry rift,communication gap and power politics.The counter argument is that there are still many ministries like agriculture ministry,water resource development ministry etc which cater to rural development then why axe PR ministry.
I think that having a ministry or department is not as important as quality o work being done.If a department is doing the job equivalent to or even better than a ministry then why to have a separate ministry?Same argument is true vice versa.