Notes of Ch 8 Local Governments| Class 11th Political Science

What is local Government?

• Government at the village and district level,

• Closest to the common people

• Involves the day-to-day life and problems of ordinary citizens.

• Believes that local knowledge and local interest are essential ingredients for democratic decision making Also necessary for efficient and people-friendly administration.

Advantage of Local Government

• It is so near the people.

• Convenient for the people to approach the local government for solving their problems both quickly and with minimum cost can be very effective in protecting the local interests of the people.

• It is at the level of local government that common citizens can be involved in decision making concerning their lives, their needs and above all their development.

Growth of Local Government in India

• Self-governing village communities existed in India from the earliest times in the form of Sabah's.

• In the course of time, these village bodies took the shape of Panchayats (an assembly of five persons) and these Panchayats resolved issues at the village level.

• In modern times, elected local government bodies were created after 1882. Lord Rippon, who was the Viceroy of India at that time, took the initiative in creating these bodies. They were called the local boards.

• Government of India Act 1919, village Panchayats were established in a number of provinces. This trend continued after the Government of India Act of 1935.

• Panchayats were looked upon as instruments of decentralization and participatory democracy.

• When the Constitution was prepared, the subject of local government was assigned to the States. It was also mentioned in the Directive Principles as one of the policy directives to all governments in the country.

• Being a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, this provision of the Constitution was non-justifiable and primarily advisory in its nature.

The subject of local government including panchayats did not receive adequate importance in the Constitution. Why?

• Firstly, the turmoil due to the Partition resulted in a strong unitary inclination in the Constitution. Nehru himself looked upon extreme localism as a threat to unity and integration of the nation.

• Secondly, there was a powerful voice in the Constituent Assembly led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar which felt that the faction and caste-ridden nature of rural society would defeat the noble purpose of local government at the rural level.

Local Governments in Independent India

• Local governments got a fillip after the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts.

• First in the line was the Community Development Programme in 1952, which sought to promote people's participation in local development in a range of activities.

• In this background, a three-tier Panchayati Raj system of local government was recommended for the rural areas. Some States (like Gujarat, Maharashtra) adopted the system of elected local bodies around 1960.

Why only few states adopted and others failed to adopt?

• Because local bodies did not have enough powers and functions to look after the local development.

• They were very much dependent on the State and central governments for financial assistance.

• Many States did not think it necessary to establish elected local bodies.

• Local bodies were dissolved and the local government was handed over to government officers.

• Many States had indirect elections to most local bodies.

• In many States, elections to the local bodies were postponed from time to time.

New Initiative (Reform)

• In 1989 the P.K.Thungon Committee recommended constitutional recognition for the 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, the central government introduced two constitutional amendments.

Why these Amendments?

• These amendments aimed at strengthening local governments and ensuring an element of uniformity in their structure and functioning across the country.

• In 1992, the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments were passed by the Parliament.

• The 73rd Amendment is about rural local governments (which are also known as Panchayati Raj Institutions or PRIs) and the 74th amendment made the provisions relating tourban local government (Nagarpalikas).

• The 73rd and 74th Amendments came into force in 1993.

• Local Govt. is a state subject means state is free to make their own laws on this subject.

Will State government alter their laws relating to local govt?

• Yes once the Constitution was amended, the States had to change their laws about local bodies in order to bring these in conformity with the amended Constitution.

Three Tier Structure

• Base level - Gram Panchayat (Covers a village or group of villages)

• Intermediary - Mandal (Block or Taluka) (Need not be constituted in smaller States)

• Apex - Zilla Panchayat (Covering the entire rural area of the District)

• Provision of Mandatory Creation of Gram Sabha - comprise of all the adult members registered as voters in the Panchayat area and its role and functions are decided by State legislation


• All three levels are directly elected by the people.

• Term-5 Years

• Dissolution: If state dissolves the panchayat before the end of its five year term fresh elections must be held within six months of such dissolution.


• 1/3 are reserved for women in all panchayat institutions for all categories (Gen/SC/ST/OBC).

• Reservation for SC & ST in proportion to their population.

• If the States find it necessary, they can also provide for reservations for the backward castes (OBCs).

• Reservations are also applicable to the chairpersons at all three levels.

Transfer of Subjects

• Twenty-nine subjects, which were earlier in the State list of subjects, are identified and listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.

• These subjects are to be transferred to the Panchayati Raj institutions.

• Subjects were mostly linked to development and welfare functions at the local level.

• Actual Transfer depends on State legislation only. Article 243 G deals with the power, authority and responsibility of panchayats.

• Some subjects listed in the 11" Schedule: Agriculture, Minor irrigation, water management and watershed development, Small scale industries, including food processing industries, Rural housing, Drinking water, Roads, culverts, Rural electrification, Poverty alleviation programme, Education, including primary and secondary schools, Technical training and vocational education, Adult and non-formal education, Libraries, Cultural activities. Markets and fairs, Health and sanitation, including hospitals, primary health centres and dispensaries, Family welfare, Women and child development. Social welfare, Welfare of the weaker sections, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Public distribution system.

Will 73" Amendment Act is applicable to whole of the state?
• No the provisions of the 73" amendment were not made applicable to the areas inhabited by
the Adivasi populations in many States of India.

• In 1996 a separate act was passed extending the provisions of the Panchayat system to these areas.

Why Separation of Act was Passed?
• Because in India Many Adivasi communities have their traditional customs of managing common
resources such as forests and small water reservoirs, etc.

• The new act protects the rights of these communities to manage their resources in ways acceptable to them.

• More powers are given to the Gram Sabhas of these areas and elected village panchayats have to get the consent of the Gram Sabha in many respects.

• The idea behind this act is that local traditions of self-government should be protected while introducing modern elected bodies. This is only consistent with the spirit of diversity and decentralization.

State Election Commissioners

• Appointed by the State Govt.

• Responsible for conducting elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions.

• The office of the State Election Commissioner is autonomous like the Election Commissioner of India.

• The State Election Commissioner is an independent officer and is not linked to nor is this officer under the control of the Election Commission of India.

State Finance Commission

• Appointed by the State Govt. once in five years.

• Examine the financial position of the local governments in the State.

• Also review the distribution of revenues between the State and local governments on the one hand and between rural and urban local governments on the other.

74th Amendment

• Dealt with urban local bodies or Nagarpalikas.

• In many ways the 74th amendment is a repetition of the 73rd amendment, except that it applies to urban areas.

• All the provisions of the 73rd amendment relating to direct elections, reservations, transfer of subjects, State Election Commission and State Finance Commission are incorporated in the
74th amendment also and thus apply to Nagarpalikas.

• The Constitution also mandated the transfer of a list of functions from the State government to
the urban local bodies. These functions have been listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Inside View

• The 73rd and 74th amendments have created uniformity in the structures of Panchayati Raj and Nagarpalika institutions across the country. The presence of these local institutions is by itself a significant achievement and would create an atmosphere and platform for people's participation in government.

• The provision for reservation for women at the Panchayats and Nagarpalikas has ensured the presence of a significant number of women in local bodies.

• Women have gained more power and confidence by asserting control over resources.

• Their presence in these institutions has given many women a greater understanding of the working of politics.

• In many cases, they have brought a new perspective and a greater sensitivity to discussions at local bodies.

• In many cases, women were unable to assert their presence or were mere proxies for the male members of their family who sponsored their election.
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