"Functioning of Panchayat Raj in India has been a matter of debate and speculation about its performance and impact. In almost all states, two or three rounds of elections for panchayats have been completed. The sizeable presence of underprivileged and poor in the grassroots political institutions is a landmark development in the rural politics of the country. This is also a matter of serious debate as to how this excluded lot after their inclusion in active politics at grassroots would effectively tackle local power equation and set the agenda for development. The responses of state governments to the implementation of Panchayat Raj varied significantly and it is very difficult to generalise about this issue on the basis of their functioning for the last one decade or so. A perusal of functioning of Panchayat Raj puts forward a mix scenario with enough evidences of positive movements and several hurdles, nevertheless a hope for the best can be expected at this juncture.This book is divided into six sub-themes, viz., Structure and Functioning of PRIs, Marginalised Sections and their Participation, Institutional Mechanism and Grassroots Decision-Making, Natural Resource Management and PRIs, NGOs, Panchayats and Capacity-Building Initiatives and Decentralised Planning and Finance. It will interest a wide range of readers, including researchers, bureaucrats, policy makers, planners and those concerned with the plight of tribals."