The Panchayat raj is a South Asian political system found mainly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nepal. It is the oldest system of local government in South Asia, and historical mentions date to the c. 250 AD period. The word raj means "rule" and panchayat means "assembly" (ayat) of five (panch). Traditionally panchayats consisted of wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. However, there were varying forms of such assemblies. Traditionally, these assemblies settled disputes between individuals and between villages.
The leader of the panchayat was often called the mukhiya or sarpanch, an elected or generally acknowledged position.
- extracted from Panchayati Raj, Wikipedia as on 1st Match 2018
In India, the Panchayati Raj generally refers to the system introduced by the 73rd constitutional amendment in 1992, although it is based upon the traditional panchayat system of South Asia. The modern Panchayati Raj and its Gram Panchayats are not to be confused with the extra-constitutional Khap Panchayats (or Caste Panchayats) found in northern India. The Panchayati Raj system was formalized in 1992, following a study conducted by a number of Indian committees on various ways of implementing more decentralized administration.
There are significant differences between the traditional Panchayati Raj system, that envisioned by Gandhi (known as Gram Swaraj), and the system formalized in India in 1992.
In India, the Panchayati Raj now functions as a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of local administration. The system has three levels: Gram Panchayat (village level), Mandal Parishad or Block Samiti or Panchayat Samiti (block level), and Zila Parishad (district level).
- extracted from Panchayati Raj (India), Wikipedia as on 1st Match 2018