A tehsil (also known as a mandal, taluk, taluq or taluka) is an administrative division in some countries of South Asia. It is an area of land with 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, pergunnah and thannah, used under k.. but Delhi Sultanate and the British Raj.
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 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 divisions, 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 purpose. Further divisions of these states are done into 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 used to some extent in all states. In some, such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, taluk or taluka is more common. The word mandal is used predominantly 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 taluk. In some states different nomenclature like talukdar, 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 designated place within taluka area called as taluka headquarters. Tehsildar is the incharge of taluka office. This is similar to district office or distict 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 panchayath(parishad). Taluka/mandal panchayat is the second layer of this system and below them are the gram panchayats or village panchayats. These panchayaths at all the three levels have elected members from eligible voters of particular subdivision. These elected member form the bodies which help administration in policy making, development works, bringing grievances of 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.