A tehsil (also known as a mandal, taluk, taluq or taluka) is an administrative division of 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 the 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 (Bharat) 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.
Throughout India, there is a three-tier local body/panchayat raj system within the state. Tehsil/taluka/mandal is the second layer of this system. Above them are the districts/zilla, and below them are the gram panchayats/villages. Note that subdivision in India form an administrative division, with several tehsils in it. In eastern India, instead of tehsils, the term community development block is used.
In India, the term tehsil is used to some extent in all states. In some, such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, taluka is more common. The word mandal is used predominately in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the "mandal parishad" is the elected governing body of the mandal, and the tehsildar is chief of executive of the mandal. In Tamil Nadu, vattam denotes a subdivision of a district.
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.