Article 40 comes under part 4 of the constitution of India that lays down the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). But what are DPSPs? And why are they important to understand? When the Indian state was being formed there were many contentions about implementing laws and regulations that are beneficial and convenient for all states to implement. During this procedure, the Constitution makers felt that few points are such that they may not be in the best interest to be implemented during the formation of the Indian State but are essential for the development of a matured democracy and hence DPSPs were formed. These were the articles that were not directly implementable under the law but when the state had to form policies or legislations it was a roadmap that the Constitution makers had given as a guardian spirit in the best interest of the nation.
ARTICLE 40 AND ITS HISTORY
All the DPSPs are important and special in the way of their formation, and the same goes for article 40 of the Indian Constitution. To understand its importance the need is to refer to the article as follows:-
Article 40: “Organisation of village panchayats The State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.”
During the formation of the Indian State, it was a Gandhian dream to decentralise the power of the state into small regions that Gandhi called village ‘Swaraj’. Gandhian thought believed that villages are the root of a healthy democracy and he strongly believed that villages should be given adequate freedom to regulate and decide what is best for their wellbeing. Gandhi held a strong belief that centralizing things would create distrust and weaken the concept of independence for the people of the Indian State and hence it is a need to provide villages with appropriate autonomy for the villages in India.
When the constitution was implemented the government preferred to give reasonable time to young India to fulfil the larger goals and then focus on efficiency in the field of administration. It should be noted that as per data from the World Bank total of 65% of the Indian population resists in villages as of 2021. This constitutes a huge population and a centralized approach for regulating every activity in the villages would be difficult and not sustainable. It is impracticable for the state to understand each need of the villages individually and fulfil them under a funnel-organised scheme. Every village has a separate need to progress and grow and it is the villagers who can understand it well.
On 24th April 1993, the 73rd constitution amendment was into force and its implementation was started across the states thereafter. The Act gave state government powers to constitute gram panchayats according to the needs of the region and delegate their self-governance rights.
BENEFITS OF ARTICLE 40
After the formation of the gram panchayat in a three-tier structure of gram panchayat, panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad. The main focus was to improve the economic situation of the villages this was important because of the uprising urbanization culture getting developed in India. Urbanization would create villages without youth power and a hollow region of misfortune without proper economic opportunities available. As India has developed from the day of independence there has been the growth of various cities and due to which village youth in search of better opportunities have demographically migrated to the cities and villages have weakened in their power. When gram panchayats are given proper autonomy they can decide efficiently about their resources and similarly delegate their use. All villages can independently think and propose to their population various ways to develop the village where companies would like to invest in the field of agriculture or manufacturing. These steps will provide an efficient implementation of state policies and better opportunities are created for the hoi polloi.
The gram panchayat is the source that conveys village grievances as a single voice to the upper authorities making the grievances registered properly and allowing solutions. In recent times the state has focused critically to improve the sanitary and healthcare facilities across the country and allow every citizen to enjoy the equal benefit of the growth that the country is enjoying and not limit it to the cities only. It is an important duty of the Gram Panchayat to regulate and promote the proper healthcare system of villages and sensitize the population about the proper sanitation system.
Even during the fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus, gram panchayat played a significant role in providing key information that the government authorities otherwise would have found difficult to communicate with the local population. One such example emerged in the state of Kerala. Gram panchayat in Kerala has shown how a village organization has to work at the forefront in times of crisis to manage not only the interest of the local population but to serve the larger cause of national healthcare. Gram panchayat in Kerala coordinated with the government and organized tracing, health check-up camps, sanitation information and social distancing messages to help the population in their villages fight the deadly virus. The villages also focused upon the agricultural activities are not affected due to the wide spread of the virus and hence helped in the continuous flow of labour force and helped each other in the difficult times.
In a strong and mature democracy, it is vital that people not only hear that they have the power but it is given to them and implementation of Article 40 is a vibrant step in that pursuit. The Gandhian dream is still in formation and the dream once thought to be just an imagination of a utopian society has become a close reality. Villages that felt that progress and growth are at mercy of the government employees and officers are now more confident as many operational powers are delegated to the villagers. India is a huge democracy and mostly settled in the villages, if the villages do not develop then there is no scope for a developed country. Without the implementation of Article 40, it would be not possible to imagine the strong and roaring India. The importance of Panchayat raj can be summarized in one simple quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “When the panchayat raj is established, public opinion will do what violence can never do.”
Author(s) Name: Devya Shah (Institute of Law, Nirma University)
Constitution of Indian,1950, art 40
Ramshray Roy, 1984. Self and Society : A study in Gandhian Thought, New Delhi, Sage Publications, India Pvt. Ltd., p. 123
 World Bank, ‘Rural Population (% of total population)- India’ (World Bank data, 2021) https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS?end=2021&locations=IN&start=1960&view=chart accessed 9 July 2022.