The following were the major specific defects/hindrances in the way of efficient and successful operationalisation of Panchayati Raj in India during 1959-92.
(1) Illiteracy and Ignorance:
The widespread illiteracy and ignorance among the rural people remained a major hindrance in the way of the successful operation of Panchayati Raj. It prevented the people from becoming an active and willing partners in this system.
(2) Inexperienced Representatives:
The inability of the representatives elected by the rural people to comprehend fully the programmes and policies of the Panchayati Raj and their apathy towards their duties as representatives of the people together made the working of the Panchayati Raj institutions inefficient.
(3) Groupism and Factionalism:
Socio-economic backwardness of rural India combined with groupism and factionalism to adversely affect the working of Panchayati Raj. The power struggle resulting from the efforts aimed at capturing seats in Panchayati Raj institutions as status symbol, led to further groupism and factionalism.
(4) Lack of Political Awareness:
Rural poverty, illiteracy, and ignorance were together responsible for a low level of a political awareness among the people of rural areas. This prevented the adoption of Panchayati Raj by them as a system of self-government and self-development.
(5) Lack of Funds for the Panchayati Raj Institutions:
The Panchayati Raj institutions were allocated limited sources of income. These were expected to perform a large number of civic and development functions. However, shortage of funds always hampered their efforts. Shortage of funds kept these dependent upon governmental grants-in-aid.
(6) Small Size of the Block Area:
In the structure of Panchayati Raj, the responsibility to implement development plans and programmes was largely vested with the Panchayat Samiti, which worked at the Block or Taluk or Tehsil level. Each Block was a small area and its Panchayat Samiti often found the task of formulating development plans for such a small area difficult and problematic.
(7) Party Politics:
The role of political parties in Panchayati Raj elections remained negative and harmful. It acted as a source of factionalism and groupism. It was a source of intensification of social conflict into a violent conflict. Partisan attitude towards the issue of reforms and development adversely affected the working of the Panchayati Raj.
(8) Benefits mostly to one Class:
The objective of securing the involvement of all the people of rural areas in the process of securing development through community efforts was put into practice but it benefited only the rich landlords and the upper classes of the rural people. The rich landlords dominated the elections to the Panchayats and thereby became the dominant actors in the working of the other two institutions of the Panchayati Raj. The rural poor failed to really get involved in it.
(9) Organisational/Structural Defects in Panchayat Raj Institutions:
There were experienced several structural deficiencies in the organisation and working of the Panchayati Raj institutions:
(1) Infectiveness of the Gram Sabha.
(2) Nominated character of the Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads.
(3) Lack of adequate powers, particularly for the Panchayat Samitis.
(4) Lack of trained and efficient staff.
(5) Excessive governmental interferences and control.
(6) Economic dependence of the Panchayati Raj institutions upon the government.
(7) Irregular elections.
(8) Frequent and prolonged supersession of the Panchayati Raj institutions.
(9) Small area of the Block.
(10) Lack of good relations between the Panchayati Raj staff and the rural people.
(11) Working of Panchayati Raj institutions more as governmental agencies and less as popular and public institutions.
All these hindrances were in the main responsible for the inadequate success of Panchayati Raj in India during 1959-92.