Panchayats were Mahatma Gandhi’s original vision for a free India – an India made up of thousands of “little Republics” where people meet their needs through self-reliance. Today, panchayats are responsible for implementing development programs. They often create positive change at the grassroots level, but their success stories aren’t as well known as they should be. For example in Kerala, a panchayat that was committed to education made sure the entire village was completely literate. And in the Thar district of Rajasthan, a panchayat converted the area into a tourist destination, increasing the incomes of inhabitants.
Today we're launching the Google.org Gram Panchayat Puraskar (GGPP) to celebrate innovative panchayats and encourage more innovation in local governance throughout the country. We'll reward the top five panchayats in two states, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, with a cash prize of Rs.5 lakhs (approximately $10,000 USD) which they can use to do more good in their communities.
The prize will be awarded in one of six areas: education, health and nutrition, water supply, rural infrastructure, rural electrification, and resource mobilization. The winningpayanchat must include a wide variety of social and income groups, share information with villagers, respond to citizen feedback, and track the quality of programs.
We hope the contest helps gram panchayats celebrate successes, share ideas with one another, and improve the quality of public services in villages. Help us show these innovations to the world. The contest is open for applications through January 25, 2009. To enter, visit the contest website www.google.org/ggpp.html or pick-up an application at your district or blockpanchayat office in Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh.
And, check out what Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Union Minister of Panchayat Raj had to say about the competition: