A tehsil (also known as a taluka, taluq) is an administrative division in some countries of South Asia. It is an area of land within a city or town that serves as its administrative centre, with possible additional towns, and usually a number of villages. The terms in India have replaced earlier geographical terms, such as pargana and thana.
In some states of India, a newer unit called mandal has come to replace the system of tehsils. A mandal is generally smaller than a tehsil, and is meant for facilitating local self-government in the panchayat system. Some states retain both the tehsil and mandal levels of administration.
As an entity of local government, the tehsil office (panchayat samiti) exercises certain fiscal and administrative power over the villages and municipalities within its jurisdiction. It is the ultimate executive agency for land records and related administrative matters. The chief official is called the tahsildar or, less officially, the talukdar or taluka muktiarkar or tehsildar. Taluk or tehsil can be considered sub-districts in the Indian context. In some instances, tehsils overlap with "blocks" (panchayat union blocks or panchayat development blocks) and come under the land and revenue department, headed by tehsildar; and blocks come under the rural development department, headed by the block development officer and serve different government administrative functions over the same or similar geographical area.
Although they may on occasion share the same area with a subdivision of a revenue division, known as revenue blocks, the two are distinct. For example, Raipur district in Chhattisgarh state is administratively divided into 13 tehsils and 15 revenue blocks. Nevertheless, the two are often conflated.
Tehsil/tahsil and taluka and their variants are used as English words without further translation. Since these terms are unfamiliar to English speakers outside the subcontinent, the word county has sometimes been provided as a gloss, on the basis that a tehsil, like a county, is an administrative unit hierarchically above the local city, town, or village, but subordinate to a larger state or province. India and Pakistan have an intermediate level of hierarchy (or more than one, at least in parts of India): the district, also sometimes translated as county. In neither case is the analogy very exact.
India, as a vast country, is subdivided into many states and union territories for administrative purposes. Further divisions of these states are known as districts. These districts (jilla/zilla) are again divided into many subdivisions, viz tehsils or talukas. These subdivisions are again divided into gram panchayats or village panchayaths. Initially, this was done for collecting land revenue and administration purposes. But now these subdivisions of areas to be governed is followed by other departments of government like education, agriculture, irrigation, health, police, etc. The different departments of state government generally have offices at tehsil or taluka level to facilitate good governance and to provide facilities to common people easily.
In India, the term tehsil is commonly used in all northern states. In the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, taluka or taluk is more common. The word mandal is used specifically in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In eastern India, instead of tehsils the term community development block is used. Tehsildar is the chief or key government officer of each tehsil or taluka. In some states different nomenclature like talukdar, mamledar, amaldar, mandal officer is used. In many states of India, the tehsildar works as a magistrate. Each taluka will have an office called taluka office or tehsil office or tehsildar office at a designated place within taluka area known as taluka headquarters. Tehsildar is the incharge of taluka office. This is similar to district office or district collector at district level.
Throughout India, there is a three-tier local body/Panchayati Raj system within the state. At the top is the jilla/zilla panchayat (parishad). Taluka/Mandal Panchayat is the second layer of this system and below them are the gram panchayats or village panchayats. These panchayats at all the three levels have elected members from eligible voters of particular subdivision. These elected members form the bodies which help the administration in policy making, development works and bringing grievances of the common public to the notice of administration.
In Pakistan, the term tehsil is generally used, except in Sindh, where the term taluko (Sindhi: تعلقو) predominates, e.g., Larkana Taluko. The tehsil is the second-lowest tier of local government in Pakistan; each tehsil is part of a larger district (zila/zillah). Each tehsil is subdivided into a number of union councils.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, tehsil has the same meaning as above, except in Malakand Division, where a district (zila/zillah) has two or more subdivisions, and a subdivision has two or more tehsils. The subdivisions in Malakand Division are the same as tehsils in the rest of the country.
The main purpose of the census is to provide data on size and composition of population of India and its geographic divisions, i.e., population of different states and union territories, districts, blocks and villages.