The smallest unit of the Indian democratic system is the village or the rural area. The rural sector makes up over 65% of the total population of the country, and in the context of administration, it is an enormous challenge. The urban sector is in a better and more advanced state technologically but it is not the case in the rural sector.
That being said, since independence, the legal system of the country has always taken into account the importance of the governance of this sector as it represents a majority of the global population. Due to this, India has a robust governance system in the rural sector, which shall be explored in this article.
Rural Administration Meaning
Rural administration refers to the initiatives undertaken by the government to govern the public affairs of the rural population and administer to them the benefits the state provides. It has different layers and divisions of different authorities for districts, taluks, villages and towns. Each of these sections has authorities such as police officials, a district collector, tahsildars and patwaris. All of these form a coherent part of the entire rural administration effort by the state, and each one compliments the other.
The PRI, also known as the Panchayati Raj Institution, is an example of the system of indigenous self-government in the rural setting of India.
The police play a very important role as they are the primary body of authority that people in rural areas approach whenever any dispute arises. These disputes and conflicts usually arise between two different parties, who then proceed to file a complaint in the nearest police station. The role of the police then would be to maintain law and order and take action to enforce the same. Empowered by the Police Act of 1861, they have the right to investigate, interrogate and arrest people on the basis of whatever complaint has been filed.
Complications usually arise because there is inherent mistrust in the system. Take for example land disputes. In rural areas, the ownership of land sometimes follows years of inherited land. Hence, the land records might not be accurate. In addition to this, the police system is corrupt, and landlords who have money also control the police. These are all problems rural people face, apart from negligence by policemen, or they simply refuse to file complaints out of lethargy or disbelief. Due to this, there need to be more layers of enforcement, or, more authorities to perform roles.
A Patwari is an individual who takes charge of land records. Across the country, the Patwari is referred to by different names in different languages. Examples of such names include Lekhpal-Kanungo, Karamchari, etc. A Patwari is assigned a cluster of villages, and they maintain the records for that entire region. They are also tasked with the ability to measure farms and agricultural fields, coordinate revenue collection on the land, and furnish details of the crops being grown in these fields.
Tehsildars and Talukdars
Tehsildars and Talukdars are the officials who keep an eye on the Patwari as they hold a powerful position that can be misused. While each Patwari is assigned a set of villages, the rural sector is also organized into tehsils, which are subdivisions within the district. Depending on the size, there are also certain divisions known as taluks. The head of a taluk is the Talukdar and the head of a tehsil is the Tehsildar.
They take charge of the various Patwaris organized within each tehsil/taluk. They are in charge of ensuring that proper data of revenue and land records are maintained. They ensure the farmer has proof of his payment, students have caste certificates and other such documents. They also hear land disputes in their offices. There is also an official above these two positions, known as the District Collector, who is the head of the entire district.
They are the head at the district level who are above the Tehsildar or Talukdar and supervise the whole district under them. Mostly they get this post by clearing one of India's toughest examinations of UPSC and by becoming IAS officers.
They control and supervise all the villages under them.
They maintain law and order in the whole district.
They implement government laws and policies and programs in the district.
More About Rural Administration in India
India is a big country that is divided into multiple divisions such as states or Union Territories, districts, tehsil or taluk, and villages or cities. Our country is composed of several villages. A village is an area that is underdeveloped or is not that much developed as compared to the urban areas and where all the facilities are not there in a sufficient manner and where agriculture and other allied activities are considered as the main livelihood. There are several villages under one district. How all these villages are managed? We will see below how the rural administration in India works in this article.
Chapter Story: A Quarrel in the Village
The chapter begins with the story of Mohan and Raghu, both farmers who owned adjacent lands separated by a small boundary called the bund. One day, Raghu shifted his border to include some of Mohan's land. Then Mohan decided to ask Raghu, he denied the allegations and had Mohan beaten up with the help of his workmen.
Role of Police
Chapter Story: Area of the Police Station
With nothing left to do, Mohan went to the local police station with eye-witnesses to lodge a formal complaint. Although he knew that Raghu might have influenced the local police, he couldn't even register a complaint at some other police station because every police station has a specific area under his control. Every individual residing in a specific area may report cases or inform the local police of any theft, accident, injury, conflict, etc. It is the responsibility of the police station of that area to interrogate, investigate and take action on cases within its area.
Chapter Story: The Work at Police Station
Although the police did not initially believe Mohan, the case was filed on the protests of other villagers. It would have been possible to resolve this argument more peacefully if records were maintained about who owned how much land in the village. Comparing land records with current measurements would have proved that Raghu took up Mohan's land.
The Role of the Police in the Administration is mentioned below in Points:
Police help in solving the conflicts between the two parties in the village.
We can file a complaint by directly going to the police station in our area.
The police of your areas have to interrogate, investigate and take action on cases within the area.
The maintenance of law and order in the area is the duty of the police.
But sometimes, things do not go the right way. People sometimes are scared to go to the police station and file a complaint. If someone files a complaint, the big landlords convince the Police personnel. In some cases, the police also work inefficiently and do not file the complaints of poor people.
Role of Patwari
Maintenance of Land Records: Assessing the land and maintenance of the record is the primary job of the Patwari who is known by different names in different states. In certain villages, such officers are known as Lekhpal-Kanungo or Karamchari or Village Officer, and so on.
Each Patwari is responsible for a cluster of villages and maintains and updates the village records.
It has means of measuring agricultural fields. A long chain is often used in many places.
Patwari is responsible for coordinating the collection of land revenue from farmers and delivers the government with details on crops grown in the area.
Role of Tehsildar or Talukdar
Who keeps a check on the patwari? Each state in India is divided into districts for land-related management, and these districts are also subdivided. These district subdivisions are known by various names, such as tehsil, taluka, and so on. Tehsildar is called the head of the tehsil whereas Talukdar is the head of the taluk.
They make sure that data is properly maintained and land revenues are collected.
They also ensure that farmers easily receive a copy of their records and students obtain their caste certificates and much more.
The Tehsildar office is where the land dispute issues are heard.
They keep checking on officers subordinates like patwari.
They maintain law and order.
A New Law
Farmers who own land are often men, while women work on the farm but do not own agricultural land. In some regions, Hindu women have not acquired a share of the family's agricultural land. After the father’s death, the property is divided equally between the sons. The law has recently been changed. According to the new legislation, sons, daughters, and mothers have an equal share of land and the same law applies to all States and Union territories of the country. A huge proportion of women will benefit from this law.
Hindu Succession Amendment Act (2005)
This Act was passed to eliminate the gender discriminatory provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and to grant the following rights to daughters under Section 6: The daughter of a coparcener (joint-heir) by birth becomes a coparcener by right in the same way as the son. The daughter has the same rights in the coparcener's property as she would have had if she had been a son.
Thus, in this article, we have learned about rural administration in India. We have covered the whole rural administration introduction and have learned what are rural areas, what administration means, and how rural administration works.
We have also learned rural administration meaning, rural administration definition, the role of police, patwari, tehsildar or talukdar, district collector, and related law which helps in the administration of the rural areas. This article will help you in getting the basic idea of administration in the rural areas of the country.
FAQs on Rural Administration in India
1. Is there a difference between a Tehsildar and a Talukdar?
Districts are organized into subdivisions, of which tehsils and talukas are two names for each subdivision. They are both representative of divisions of the district of similar sizes, but they have no difference in terms of rank. They are simply different names for the same thing. The head of a taluk is a Talukdar and the head of a tehsil is a Tehsildar.
2. Is the rural administration system holistic?
One of the primary focuses of the administration of rural areas is the governance of land, as land disputes are the majority cases that arise in rural areas. Also, since the literacy rate is lower, there is scope for rampant corruption and exploitation of the rural population. Hence, the officials in charge of the administration of rural areas need to be held accountable. That is why the rural administration system is quite holistic.
There are Patwaris who maintain land records and provide information wherever required, which ensures the police do not step out of line. There are Tehsildars or Talukdars who see that the Patwaris do not become corrupt. At the highest level, the district collector watches over the functioning in a seamless manner.
3. Why is there an inherent mistrust in the police system?
This is not true for just rural areas, but even in general, due to the rampant corruption within the system that creates a divide between the haves and the have-nots, police brutality, and the stigma surrounding certain issues, people from middle and low-income backgrounds seldom approach the police with complaints.
This is why it is important for additional checks and balances to be issued to ensure the needs of the people are taken care of. For issues apart from land disputes, unless there are similar officials as patwaris and talukdars assigned, there will continue to be mistrust in the police because of abuse of power.