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- Local government is the government of the village and district level. It is the government closest to the common people that involves in day-to-day life and attempt to resolve problems of ordinary citizens.
- Democracy is in fact about meaningful participation and also about accountability. Hence, strong and vibrant local governments ensure both active participation and purposeful accountability.
- The hierarchy of different levels of Governments (of India) is shown in the following image −
Evolution of Local Government
- In 1882, Lord Rippon, the-then Viceroy of India, took the initiative to form elected local government body.
- Following the Government of India Act 1919, village Panchayats were established in many provinces and the trend continued after the Government of India Act of 1935.
- When the Constitution was prepared, the subject of local government was assigned to the States and it was one of the provisions of the Directive Principles of State Policy.
- After the independence, a three-tier Panchayati Raj system of local government was recommended for the rural areas; resultantly, some of the states including Gujarat and Maharashtra adopted the system of elected local bodies (1960).
- After 1987, a thorough review of the functioning of local government institutions was initiated and in 1989, the P. K. Thungon Committee recommended constitutional recognition to the local government bodies.
- Finally, in 1992, the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments were passed by the Parliament.
- The 73rd Amendment is about the rural local governments, which are also known as Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
- The 74th Amendment made the provisions relating to the urban local government (also known as Nagarpalikas).
- Following the 73rd Amendment, all states now have a uniform three tier Panchayati Raj structure as −
- Gram Panchayat − At the bottom level;
- Mandal (also known as Block or Taluka) − Intermediary level; and
- Zilla Panchayat − At the top level.
- A Gram Panchayat covers a village or group of villages.
- The intermediary level is the Mandal covers Block (i.e. a group of gram panchayat).
- The Zilla Panchayat covers the entire rural area of the District.
- All the three levels of Panchayati Raj Institutions are elected directly by the people for five years term.
- One-third of the positions in all panchayat institutions are reserved for the women.
- Twenty-nine subjects (of 11th Schedule of the Constitution), which were earlier in the State list, are transferred to the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
- The 73rd Amendment was not made applicable to the areas inhabited by the Adivasi populations in many states of India; however, a separate provision was passed in 1996 for these areas.
- The State government is required to appoint a State Election Commissioner (independent of Election Commission of India) who would be responsible for conducting elections in the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
- The state government is required to appoint a State Finance Commission once in five years.
- The 74th Amendment dealt with urban local bodies (Nagarpalikas or Municipality).
- The Census of India defines an urban area as −
- A minimum population of 5,000;
- At least 75% of male working population engaged in non-agricultural occupations, and
- A density of population is at least 400 persons per sq. km.
- As per the 2011 census (provisional data), about 31 percent of India’s population lives in urban areas.
- Many provisions of 74th Amendment are similar to 73rd Amendment.
- The functions of Nagarpalika have been listed in the Twelfth Schedule of the Constitution.
- The Indian population has 16.2 percent Scheduled Castes (SC) and 8.2 per cent Scheduled Tribes (ST) and accordingly, the seats for both SC and ST are reserved in local government.
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