[Editorial Analysis] Stronger at the grassroots

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Disaster resilience
Mains level: Panchayati Raj, Disaster and disaster management.


• Recently, the People’s Plan Campaign and Vibrant Gram Sabha Dashboard were rolled out which aspire to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system by making gram sabhas more vibrant.

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in India

• The Panchayati Raj was first adopted by Nagaur in Rajasthan on October 2, 1959.

• PRIs were constitutionalized through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992.

• Since then, it has expanded vastly. Currently in India, 2,60,512 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are represented by about 31 lakh elected members.

• In this system of local self-governance, people in the villages participate in the decision-making process. Therefore, it is the backbone of democracy.

Role/significance of PRIs during pandemic/crisis

• Failing of traditional top-down disaster response system: When the traditional top-down disaster response system was compromised during the pandemic, it was PRIs that played a remarkable role.

• Provided essential leadership at the local level: They helped reduce risks, responded swiftly and thus helped people recover quickly.

• Performed both regulatory and welfare functions: During the nationwide lockdown, PRIs:

1. Set up containment zones

2. Arranged transport

3. Identified buildings for quarantining people

4. Provisioned food for the incoming migrants.

• Role played by gram Sabhas: Gram Sabhas act as a sounding board for diverse ideas and opinions.

• They provide a platform to build consensus and make resolutions in the community’s interest.

• Bridged the trust gap between the community and the officials: By regular engagement with frontline workers like ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers through committees.

• Community-based surveillance systems: During the pandemic, PRIs organised community-based surveillance systems involving village elders, the youth and self-help groups (SHGs) to keep a strict vigil in quarantine centres and monitor symptoms in households.

Initiatives to be taken to building capacity of PRIs

• Including disaster management in Panchayat Raj Acts:

1. It will ensure citizen-centric mapping and planning of resources.

2. Various insurance products customised to local needs will build financial resilience of the community.

• Regular location-specific training programmes:

1. These will act as platforms for sharing best practices.

2. These will strengthen individual and institutional capacities.

• Community-based disaster management plans.

1. These plans would provide a strategy for resource utilisation and maintenance during a disaster.

2. These plans should tap the traditional wisdom of local communities which will complement modern practices.

3. Establishment of community disaster funds in all gram panchayats and encouraging financial contributions from the community.


• The disaster is an unusual crisis as it is long-drawn and affects people everywhere.

• Therefore, in order to tackle such crisis effectively, it is imperative to make disaster resilience an inherent part of the community culture now more than ever.


Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the gaming disorder, consider the following statements:

1. According to the All India Gaming Federation, India’s online gaming industry is expected to be worth ₹15,500 crore by 2023.

2. The World Health Organization categorised gaming disorder as a mental health condition in 2018.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

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