The Panchayat raj is a South Asian political system found mainly in the nations of India,Pakistan, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nepal. It is the oldest system of local government in the Indian subcontinent. The word raj means "rule" and panchayat means "assembly" (ayat) of five (panch).
Traditionally panchayats consisted of wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. However, there were varying forms of such assemblies. Traditionally, these assemblies settled disputes between individuals and between villages.
The leader of the panchayat was often called the mukhiya or sarpanch, an elected or generally acknowledged position. The modern panchayati raj of India and its gram panchayats are not to be confused with either the traditional system nor with the extra-constitutional khap panchayats (or caste panchayats) found in northern India