The values of local self-governance
#GS-02 Local Self Government
Panchayati Raj in India
- Parliament passed the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in December 1992 to give constitutional status to panchayats and municipalities, respectively.
- They require States to vest panchayats and municipalities with enough authority “to enable them to function as institutions of self-government.”
- They also provide for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Schedules Tribes and women in local councils.
- They also created the participative forums like gram sabhas in panchayats and ward committees in municipal corporations.
Seventy-Third Amendment Act 1992
- Added Part-IX and 11th Schedule which gave constitutional status for the Panchayati Raj
- This made it mandatory for state government to constitute panchayats at the village, block and district
Seventy-fourth Amendment Act 1992
- Part IX-A and the 12th Schedule which gave constitutional status for the Urban local bodies.
- This made it mandatory for state government to constitute municipalities in the form of municipal corporations, municipal councils and nagar panchayats.
The need for efficient Local Self Government.
- The idea of Local self-governance is linked to the principle of subsidiarity.
- The principle of subsidiarity says that the functions of administration should be carried at the smallest unit of governance possible and delegated upwards only when the local unit cannot perform the task.
- The need for local self-government can be summed up by 2 arguments
- First, it provides for efficient provision of public goods since governments which have smaller jurisdictions can provide services as per the preferences of their residents.
- Second, it promotes deeper democracy since governments that are closer to the people will allow citizens to engage with public affairs more easily.
Concerns of Panchayati Raj in India:
- India’s constitutional reforms for decentralisation are exceptional since local governments seldom derive their authority directly from the Constitution.
- However, municipal governments are often seen to as ineffective in addressing even the most basic needs of citizens, such as reliable water supply and walkable footpaths.
- Even though the constitution promises local self-governance, local governments, especially municipalities, operate with limited autonomy and authority.
- This can be due to inherent the limitations of the 74th amendment and the failure of State governments and courts to interpret and implement the amendment in letter and spirit.
- The major limitations are the discretion given to the States regarding devolution of powers and levying of local taxes.
- State governments are reluctant to implement the 74th amendment in letter and spirit.
- This is mainly because cities are economic centres and urban land is an important source of finance for the State governments and political parties.
What needs to be done?
- Debates on federalism should include larger discussions on how power should be divided and shared between governments at the Union, State, and local level.
- This means accepting local governments are, normatively and structurally, an integral part of the federal framework of the Constitution.