Discuss the ways in which panchayats and village headmen regulated rural society.

Ways in which panchayats and village headmen regulated rural society:

1. The village Panchayat was a body of elders of a village and they elected a “Muqaddam” also called the “Mandal”, who supervised the activities in a village. His function was to prepare village account with the help of the patwari.

2. In the mixed caste village, the panchayats were a heterogeneous body. The Panchayat represented different caste and communities in the village.

3. They collected funds from the villagers towards a common financial pool and it was spend on:

a. Defraying the costs of entertaining revenue officials who visited the village from time to time.

b. Community calamities were also met from these funds.

c. These funds were also deployed in construction of a bund or digging a canal.

4. It also had the authority to levy fines and taxes. It can also give punishment like expulsion from the community.

5. Another important function of the Panchayat was to ensure the caste boundaries among the various communities inhabiting the village were upheld. The Panchayat also had the authority to levy fines and inflict more serious forms of punishment like expulsion from the community, if the caste norms were broken.

6. In addition to the village Panchayat each caste or jati in the village had its own Jati Panchayat. Jati Panchayat arbitrated civil disputes and decided whether marriages were performed according to the norms Laid down by a particular caste group.

7. The village panchayat also decided cases ‘Appeal’. The Panchayat often decided cases of conflict between lower caste peasants and zamindars. The cases were often related to excessive revenue demands and the Panchayat often suggested compromise.

8. In case of excessive revenue demands, the Panchayat often suggested a compromise. If this failed, the peasants took recourse to more drastic forms of punishment such as deserting the village.