Chapter 8. Local Governments

Local Government
• Local government is government at village and district level.
• Local government is about government closest to common people.
• Local government is about government that involves day-to-day life and problems of ordinary citizens.
• local government believes that local knowledge and local interest are essential ingredients for democratic decision-making. They are necessary for efficient and peoplefriendly administration.
• Strong and vibrant local governments ensure both active participation and purposeful accountability.

Local Governments in Independent India
• Local governments got a fillip after 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts.
• In 1989 P. K.Thungon Committee recommended Constitutional recognition for local government bodies. A Constitutional amendment to provide for periodic elections to local government institutions, and enlistment of appropriate functions to them, along with funds, was recommended.

73rd and 74th Amendments
• In 1989, Central Government introduced two Constitutional Amendments. These amendments aimed at strengthening local governments and ensuring an element of uniformity in their structure and functioning across country.
• Later in 1992, 73rd & 74th Constitutional amendments were passed by Parliament.
• The 73rd amendment is about rural local governments [which are called Panchayati Raj Institutions or PRIs] and 74th amendment made provisions relating to urban local government [Nagarpalikas].
• The 73rd and 74th amendments came into force in 1993.
• provisions of 73rd amendment were not made applicable to areas inhabited by Adivasi populations in many states of India. In 1996, a separate act was passed extending provisions of Panchayat system to these areas.

73rd Amendment

Three Tier Structure
• All States have a uniform three-tier Panchayati Raj structure.
• The ‘Gram Panchayat‘ is base of three-tier system. A Gram Panchayat covers a village or group of villages.
• intermediary level is Mandal [also referred to as Block or Taluka]. These bodies are known as Mandal or Taluka Panchayats. intermediary level body need not be constituted in smaller States.
• At apex is Zilla Panchayat covering entire rural area of district.
• amendment made a provision for mandatory creation of Gram Sabha. Gram Sabha would comprise all adult members registered as voters in Panchayat area. Its role and functions are decided by State legislation.

• All three levels of Panchayati Raj institutions are elected directly by people. term of each Panchayat body is five years.
• If State Government dissolves Panchayat before end of its five-year term, fresh elections must be held within six months of such dissolution.
• Before 73rd Amendment, in many States, there used to be indirect elections to district bodies, and there was no provision for immediate elections after dissolution.

• One-third of positions in all panchayat institutions are reserved for women. Reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are provided for at all three levels, in proportion to their population.
• If States find it necessary, they can provide for reservations for other backward classes [OBCs].
• These reservations apply not merely to ordinary members in Panchayats but to positions of Chairpersons or ‘Adhyakshas‘ at all three levels.
• reservation of one-third of seats for women is not merely in general category of seats but within seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and backward castes.

Transfer of Subjects
• Twenty-nine subjects, which were earlier in State list of subjects, are identified and listed in Eleventh Schedule of Constitution. These subjects are to be transferred to Panchayati Raj institutions.
• Each state decides how many of these twenty-nine subjects would be transferred to local bodies
• State Government is required to appoint a State Election Commissioner who would be responsible for conducting elections to Panchayati Raj institutions.
• office of State Election Commissioner is autonomous like Election Commissioner of India.
• State Election Commissioner is an independent officer and is not linked to nor is this officer under control of Election Commission of India.

74th Amendment
• The 74th Amendment dealt with urban local bodies or Nagarpalikas.
• Census of India defines an urban area as having: [i] a minimum population of 5,000; [ii] at least 75% of male working population engaged in non-agricultural occupations and [iii] a density of population of at least 400 persons per sq. km. As per 2011 Census, about 31% of India’s population lives in urban areas.
• In many ways, 74th amendment is a repetition of 73rd Amendment, except that it applies to urban areas.
• All provisions of 73rd Amendment relating to direct elections, reservations, transfer of subjects, State Election Commission and State Finance Commission are incorporated in 74th Amendment and thus apply to Nagarpalikas.
• Constitution mandated transfer of a list of functions from State Government to urban local bodies. These functions have been listed in Twelfth Schedule of Constitution.

State Finance Commission
• State Government is required to appoint a State Finance Commission once in five years.
• This Commission would examine financial position of local governments in State. It would review distribution of revenues between State and local governments on one hand and between rural and urban local governments on other.
• This ensures that allocation of funds to rural local governments will not be a political matter.

Implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments
• All States have now passed legislation to implement provisions of 73rd and 74th amendments.
• The 73rd and 74th Amendments have created uniformity in structures of Panchayati Raj and Nagarpalika institutions across country.
• presence of these local institutions is by itself a significant achievement and would create an atmosphere and platform for people’s participation in government.
• provision for reservation for women at Panchayats and Nagarpalikas has ensured presence of a significant number of women in local bodies. As this reservation is applicable for positions of Sarpanch and Adhyaksha, a large number of women elected representatives have come to occupy these positions.
• While reservations for Scheduled Castes and Tribes are mandated by constitutional amendment, most States have made a provision to reserve seats for Backward Castes.
• These bodies have thus become more representative.
• Constitutional Amendments assigned as many as 29 subjects to local governments. All these subjects are related to functions linked to local welfare and development needs.

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