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Development of rural areas has a bearing on improving agricultural production and related economic activities, availability of natural and financial resources and their development. So there is a need to empower grass root level institutions by decentralizing them to a great extent.

Karnataka has been one of the pioneer States in effectively decentralizing the governance system, more specifically by nurturing its Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI).

It was the first state in the country to enact the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, which incorporated the features of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment. Elections are being successively held to the three-tiers of PRIs all over in Karnataka. Politically, there is a broad consensus and sincere commitment in favour of decentralization in the State. An outstanding feature of the Panchayati Raj System in Karnataka is the state’s determined effort to empower the voiceless section of society by providing for specific reservation not only for its membership but also to the post of Chairpersons of these Institutions.

In order to ensure transparency at all levels of governance and promote participatory governance, the Karnataka government has recently amended its Panchayati Raj Act. It is a matter of great pride for Karnataka that women have been provided with 50 per cent reservation both in membership and authority positions. The Amended Bill titled the Gram Swaraj and Panchayati Raj Bill comprises of more than 100 changes to the existing Act, aimed at empowering the Panchayats to effectively function as a unit of Grama Swaraj.

With the kind of initiatives the government is taking, the Panchayat Raj system in the state is in for a huge overhaul. The initiatives once implemented across the state, can really take Karnataka to a whole new level.

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