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Objectives: The concept of e-Panchayat holds great promise for rural masses across the country as it aims to transform Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) into symbols of modernity, transparency, and efficiency. The study was designed to examine the role of e-Panchayat as a tool to facilitate the functioning of Panchayati Raj (PR) system.
Methods/Statistical analysis: Both primary and secondary sources of data were used for the purpose of the study. Quantitative as well as qualitative methods of data collection were used to provide a holistic view of the issues under study. While survey method was used and an Interview Schedule designed for the purpose of data collection, few in-depth interviews with representatives of state and block level officials and journalists were conducted to obtain detailed insights into the topic. A Pilot study was undertaken in one of the Halqa Panchayats to pre-test the Interview Schedule. Appropriate statistical techniques were used for data analysis and drawing inferences.
Findings: The findings revealed that PRFs were not aware of the facility as e-Panchayat enabling agents like computers and the internet were not available at the Panchayat Ghars. Besides, PRFs and villagers were not computer literate as such even a simple computer application would be difficult for them to handle. In this context trained human resource or support staff in the form of Village Level Worker (VLW) or Gram Rozgar Sevak (GRS) or any other could facilitate them in their respective works. The data connectivity needs to be extended to Panchayat Ghars and trained staff be provided at the Halqa Panchayat level. The absence of other infrastructural facilities needs to be addressed at the earliest for effective implementation of e-Panchayat.
Application/Improvements: In view of mobile penetration, accessibility of mobile phones and internet usage in the study area, e-Panchayat holds great promise in the study area. It can serve as an empowering tool for masses at grass root level provided timely and specific measures are adopted. e-Panchayat can go a long way in strengthening participatory democracy at the grass root level.