Chapter 8 Local Governments
Constitution of India visualised village panchayats as emits of self-government. Think over the situation described in the following statements and explain how do these situations strengthen or weaken the panchayats in becoming units of self-government.
(a) Government of a State has allowed a big company to establish a huge steel plant. Many villages would be adversely affected by the steel plant. Gram Sabha of one of the affected villages passed a resolution that before establishing any big industries in the region, village people must be consulted and their grievances should be redressed.
(b) The government has decided that 20 % of all its expenditure would be done through the panchayats.
(c) A village panchayat kept on demanding funds for a building for village school, the government officials turned down their proposal saying that funds are allocated for certain other schemes and cannot be spent otherwise.
(d) The government divided a village Dungarpur into two and made a part of village Jamuna and Sohana. Now village Dungarpur has ceased to exist in government’s books.
(e) A village panchayat observed that water sources of their region are depleting fast. They decided to mobilise village youth to do some voluntary work and revive the old village ponds and wells.
(a) This refers that Gram Panchayat was not consulted before the establishment of steel plant, by the state government. This action can weaken the institution of panchayats. The resolution passed by Gram Sabha strengthened the panchayats by giving them right to move to courts against the unilateral move of the state government.
(b) This decision of state government help the panchayats financially on the ground not to interfere in the decisions and priorities of the panchayats as well as panchayats need independent sources of revenue to operate effectively at the local level.
(c) This will weaken the Panchayati Raj because these institutions prioritize their developmental agenda themselves and denial for the same weaken them to become a self government.
(d) If this division has taken place on the recommendations of Panchayati Raj Institutions, it strengthen their powers but if it has been done on its own by the state, it would weaken these institutions.
(e) This will strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions’ respect and power.
Suppose you are entrusted to evolve a local government plan of a State, what powers would you endow to the village panchayats to function as units of self-government? Mention any five powers and the justification in two lines for each of them for giving those powers.
- Development works at village level, i.e. irrigation facilities, drinking water, construction of roads, etc.
- Agricultural development to be supervised and implemented by the panchayats only related to agricultural practices in a modem method.
- Social welfare related activities to keep the records of birth and death in the village, family welfare and family planning.
- The Gram Panchayat should be given the powers to open and maintain schools and Libraries in the village to maintain primary education.
- Gram Panchayats should enjoy the powers to ensure better health and life of citizens to provide basic civil amenities.
What are the provisions for the reservations for the socially disadvantaged groups as per the 73rd amendment? Explain how these provisions have changed the profile of the leadership at the village level.
In 1993, two constitutional amendment Acts, were passed to recognise local self-government at the grass-root level. 73rd amendment made the following provisions:
- The reservation of seats has been made for SCs, STs, OBCs and women.
- Reservation for women at panchayats has ensured the participation of women in local bodies.
- Due to this reservation, a number of women have occupied even the position of Sarpanch and Adhyaksha.
- Hence, more than 80,000 women Sarpanch have been elected so far.
What were the main differences between the local governments before 73rd amendment and after that amendment?
Before 73rd Amendment:
- Local government was a state subject only.
- States were free to make their own kind of laws in local government.
After 73rd Amendment:
- Local governments have received the recognition as a separate entity in the constitution.
- Elections at every regular interval of five years have been made mandatory.
- The seats have been reserved in favour of SC’s, ST’s, OBC’s and women.
- State Election Commission has been appointed and made responsible to conduct free and fair elections here.
- After every five years, state finance commission has been set up to review the finances of the panchayats and to make recommendations for grants to panchayats.
- The panchayats have been empowered to collect, levy the appropriate taxes, fees, tools as assigned by state government.
Read the following conversation. Write in two hundred words your opinion about the issues raised in this conversation.
Alok: Our Constitution guarantees equality between men and women. Reservations in local bodies for women ensure their equal share in power.
Neha: But it is not enough that women should be in positions of power. It is necessary that the budget of local bodies should have separate provision for women.
Jayesh: I don’t like this reservations business. A local body must take care of all people in the village and that would automatically take care of women and their interests.
This conversation is based on the issue of empowerment of women on equal basis:
- The constitution of India guarantees the equality of men and women.
- Under Article 15, no citizen can be discriminated on the grounds of colour, race, language and religion, caste, sex, etc.
- Article 39(1) and (d) ensure an adequate livelihood and equal pay for equal work for both men and women respectively.
- Alok views that our constitution guarantees equality between men and women as well as reservations in local bodies also ensure the equal share of power.
- Neha views to have separate provisions of budget to women to improve women’s conditions.
- Jayesh views to provide provisions equally to all people living in village, hence women would automatically be benefited.
- But, if women will be provided to equal access along with men without any reservation, it will not get success at all.
- Without reservation, women will not succeed to the power and to make policies because of male dominant society in India.
Read the provisions of the 73rd Amendment. Which of the following concerns does this amendment address?
(a) Fear of replacement makes representatives accountable to the people.
(b) The dominant castes and feudal landlords dominate the local bodies.
(c) Rural illiteracy is very high. Illiterate people cannot take decisions about the development of the village.
(d) To be effective the village panchayats need resources and powers to make plans for the village development.
(a) After 73rd Amendment Act, 1993:
- It is mandatory to hold elections after every five years.
- If the state government dissolves the panchayats before the completion of term, fresh elections must take place within six months.
(b) Reservation for SCs, STs, and women have been provided.
The women have reservation of 1/3 seats in local bodies.
SCs and STs have been given proportion accordingly to their population of that particular area.
Hence, dominance of feudal lords and dominant classes has come to an end.
(c) In the eleventh schedule of the constitution, 29 subjects have been given to localbodies in 1992.
Primary and secondary education is the part of this list to make the people literate in village.
The state government would shoulder the responsibility. .
(d) The panchayats have been given powers to levy, collect taxes, duties and fees according to state government’s provision.
The provisions for the establishment of a state finance commission have also been made to review the finances of panchayats and to make recommendations also.
The following are different justifications given in favour of local government. Give them ranking and explain why you attach greater significance to a particular rationale than the others. According to you, on which of these rationales the decision of the Gram panchayat of Vengaivasal village was based? How?
(a) Government can complete the projects with lesser cost with the involvement of the local community.
(b) The development plans made by the local people will have greater acceptability than those made by the government officers.
(c) People know their area, needs problems and priorities. By collective participation they should discuss and take decisions about their life.
(d) It is difficult for the common people to contact their representatives of the State or the national legislature.
These can be ranked as follows:
- (c) People know their area, needs problems and priorities. By collective participation they should discuss and take decisions about their life.
- (a) Government can complete the projects with lesser cost with the involvement of the local community.
- (b) The development plans made by the local people will have greater acceptability than those made by the government officers.
- (c) People know their area, needs problems and priorities. By collective participation they should discuss and take decisions about their life.
The decision of Gram Panchayat of Vengaivasal village was based on the rational (c)— people know their needs, areas, problems and priorities to take decision about life.
Which of the following according to you involve decentralization? Why are other options not sufficient for decentralization?
(a) To hold election of the Gram Panchayat.
(b) Decision by the villagers themselves about what policies and programmes are useful for the village.
(c) Power to call meeting of Gram Sabha.
(d) A Gram Panchayat receiving the report from the Block Development Officer about the progress of a project started by the State government.
(a) It may be the main point of involvement of decentralization.
(b) The representatives are elected by the villagers only from among themselves.
(c) It may also be subsidiary.
(d) It is the manifestation of the working of decentralization.
A student of Delhi University, Raghavendra Parpanna, wanted to study the role of decentralization in decision making about primary education. He asked some questions to the villagers. These questions are given below. If you were among those villagers, what answer would you give to each of these questions?
A meeting of the Gram Sabha is to be called to discuss what steps should be taken to ensure that every child of the village goes to the school.
(а) How would you decide the suitable day for the meeting? Think who would be able to attend/not attend the meeting because of your choice.
- A day specified by the BDO or the collector
- Day of the village haat
- Naag panchami/sankranti
(b) What is a suitable venue for the meeting? Why?
- Venue suggested by the circular of the district collector.
- Religious place in the village.
- Dalit Mohalla.
- Upper caste Tola
- Village school
(c) In the Gram Sabha meeting firstly a circular sent by the district collector was read. It suggested what steps should be taken to organise an education rally and what should be its route. The meeting did not discuss about the children who never come to school or about girls’ education, or the condition ol the school building and the timing of the school. No women teacher attended the meeting as it was held on Sunday. What do you think about these proceedings as an instance of people’s participation?
(d) Imagine your class as the Gram Sabha. Discuss the agenda of the meeting and suggest some steps to realize the goal.
(a) The day of village haat would be the most appropriate due to availability of a number of peoples to sell and purchase the commodities.
(b) The most suitable venue for the meeting would be the village school where every person feel free to move and come to join the meeting because rest of the venues are community based and people will not be comfortable to join the meeting.
(c) It was held on Sunday, hence the women teachers did not attend it.
A Gram Sabha meeting should be held to discuss the problems of village in place of organising an education rally.
This meeting had to discuss the problems like education, condition of school, girls education as well as regularity of children in school.
(d) The agenda would be for meeting:
- Regularity of students in school, if not, how to make it regular.
- To focus on poverty alleviation Programmes.
- To focus on Landlessness of farmers.
- The construction work in village required.
- Socio-cultural programmes.
- To arrange the funds for the programmes decided.
- Vote of thanks by Gram-Pradhan.
Extra Questions Solved
Very Short Answer Type Questions
What do you mean by local government?
The local government gives a strength to the democratic setup in a country to ensure participation of local people at the level of villages and towns.
Name the Viceroy who created the local bodies in British India.
Lord Ripon (1882).
Name the states to have local government during 1960s and 1970s.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Mention the sources of income of local bodies.
- Different taxes.
- Income for passing the building plans of citizens.
- Grants from state government.
- Income from entertainment taxes imposed on fares, circus, etc.
Name the main local self governing bodies.
- Gram Panchayat to function in villages.
- Municipal committees in small towns.
- Municipal corporation in big cities.
Mention the three organs of Gram Panchayat.
- Gram Sabha
- Gram Pnachayat
- Nyaya Panchayat
What do you mean by Panchayati Raj?
Panchayati Raj is a part of local government for the upliftment of villages.
What are the organs of Panchayati Raj?
- Gram Panchayat
- Panchayat Samiti
- Zila parishad
Write the main functions of each of the organs of Gram Panchayat.
- Gram Sabha elects the members of Gram Panchayat
- Gram Panchayat looks after the developmental projects in village
- Nyaya Panchayat settles down the minor disputes of villages.
Who is known as Mayor?
The formal head of Municipal Corporation to be elected for one year by the members of corporation is called Mayor.
Mention the role of‘State Election Commissioner’s.
The State Election Commission is an independent officer to be appointed by the state government to conduct elections in Panchayati Raj Institutions.
What is the need and importance of local bodies?
Need: Local bodies ensure participation of local people to run the government who better know the problems as well as their solutions.
Importance: The local people co-operate with the administration for its smooth running.
Mention the views of Mahatma Gandhi on village Panchayats.
- He strongly pleaded for decentralization of powers.
- Mahatma Gandhi viewed independence of India as a whole to begin at the bottom (village).
- He wanted every village to be self-sustained and capable of managing its own affairs.
What is the composition of Gram Sabha?
- It consists of all the voters residing in the jurisdiction of village panchayat either one or group of villages to meet at least twice in a year.
- Every resident either man or woman in the age of 18 years and above is the member of it.
What are the main functions of Gram Sabha?
- It elects the members of Gram Panchayat.
- It passes annual budget of Gram Panchayat and approves it.
- It gives suggestions to Gram Panchayat for agricultural and small scale industry development in the village.
What is the composition of Gram Panchayat?
- Every village having a population of 500 people consists of a village panchayat.
- It is formed by the members elected by the people of villages.
- The members of Panchayat are called Panchas and its head is known as Sarpanch to be elected for three years.
- The number of members should be minimum 5 or maximum 10.
- Every panchayat must have one female candidate and one or two members from SCs.
What are the main functions of panchayats?
- To call upon the meetings of panchayats and to preside over them.
- To settle down disputes with the help of other members (Panchas).
- To make plan for the welfare of the people.
- To obtain cash grants from state government for developmental projects of village.
- He is mediator between the villagers and the state government.
What is the composition of Zila Parishad?
After the 73rd Amendment:
- The members of Zila Parishad are elected by the people.
- The chairman is elected from among the elected members by the people.
- MPs, MLAs, Collector, Deputy Collector and SDM are its ex-officio members.
- The reservation has been made for SCs, STs and women.
Mention the sources of income to Zila Parishad.
- In some state Zila Parishad is empowered to impose small taxes.
- It submits its annual budget to the state government for its approval.
- In some states, it receives some amount as a contribution made by panchayat samitis.
- It receives some amount in the form of government grants for development projects.
What is the composition of finance commission?
The state government appoints the state finance commission after every five years to allocate funds to the rural local self-government.
What are the functions of state finance commission?
- To examine the financial position of local governments.
- To provide recommendations to strengthen local government.
- It reviews the distribution of revenues between the state and local government as well as between the local and urban local government.
- To allocate the funds to the rural local self-government.
Short Answer Type Questions
What does the Panchayati Raj stand for?
Panchayati Raj was incorporated on the suggestions given by Balwant Rai Mehta Committee in 1956, which said that without the cooperation of local people, the development work cannot take place at local level. Hence, the three-tier system was established to decentralise the power and to give due representation to the local people to implement the programmes:
- Panchayats at village level.
- Block Committees or samitis at block level.
- Zila Parishad or District Council at district level.
What is the composition of Panchayat Samiti?
The block panchayat is known as panchayat samiti, consisting of following members:
- All the Panchs and Sarpanchs of panchayats in a Block elect some members from among themselves.
- In some states, Sarpanchs are ex-officio members of panchayat samiti.
- All the MLAs and MPs of the district are ex-officio members of panchayat samiti.
- The Sub-divisional Magistrate and the Block Development Officers are ex-officio members of panchayat samiti.
- 1/3 seats have been reserved for women as well as for SCs and STs.
What are the main functions of Gram Panchayat?
- It works for promotion of agriculture to make arrangements for seeds and to make farmers aware of modern methods of agriculture.
- It makes arrangements for providing primary education to the children.
- It provides sanitary arrangements and facilities in the village.
- It makes efforts to improve health of the people and opens hospitals and dispensaries.
- It also makes arrangements for street lighting also.
What are the main functions of Gram Sabha?
- Gram Sabha elect the Pradhan and Panchs of the Panchayat.
- Even it can remove the Panchs and Sarpanch by passing a resolution by 2/3 majority.
- It approves the annual budget of the village and votes on the imposition of taxes.
- Gram Sabha passes the annual budget of Gram Panchayat.
- The Gram Sabha decides the policies also for development work of the village.
Mention the weaknesses of Panchayati Raj system.
- Due to illiteracy, most of the members are unable to understand the real concept of democracy.
- The village people still have the differences on the basis of caste and community, hence, they do not have real environment for democracy.
- Sometimes, the political parties interferes in the functioning of village panchayats.
What were the constitutional provisions for local self-government before 1992?
- Local government’s subjects were assigned to the state government.
- These were included as Directive Principles of State Policy.
- These were non-justiciable and only advisory in nature.
- In 1952, a three tier system of local government was recommended, but these had no powers and functions to look after.
- The elections were not held regularly.
- These had to be dependent on the states for their grants and finances.
‘The local government strengthens democracy’. Justify the statement.
- The local government involves the participation of local people.
- It deals with the day-to-day life and problems of ordinary citizens.
- Strong local governments ensure purposeful accountability.
- Common peoples are the decision-making body for their needs and development.
What is the importance of year 1992 and 1993 for local governments?
- In 1992-73rd and 74th Amendment Acts were passed by the parliament.
- The 73rd Amendment was about rural local government and the 74th amendment was about urban local self-government.
- Both the Amendment Acts came into force in 1993.
- All the states had to change their laws about local bodies due to these amendments.
- The states were given only one year time for making necessary changes in their state laws.
Read the passage (NCERT Textbook, page 191) given below carefully and answer the questions that follows:
The Constitutional amendments assigned as many as 29 subjects to the local governments. All these subjects are related to functions linked to local welfare and development needs. The experience with the functioning of local government in the past decade has shown that local governments in India enjoy limited autonomy to perform the functions assigned to them. Many States have not transferred most of the subjects to the local bodies. This means that the local bodies cannot really function in an effective manner. Therefore, the entire exercise of electing so many representatives becomes somewhat symbolic. Some people criticise the formation of the local bodies because this has not changed the way in which decisions are taken at the central and the State level. People at the local level do not enjoy much powers of choosing welfare programmes or allocation of resources.
1. How many subjects have been assigned to local governments?
2. What is the main theme of these subjects?
3. How can we say that local government enjoy limited autonomy only?
4. On what grounds, the formation of local bodies have been criticised?
1. 29 subjects have been assigned to local governments.
2. These subjects are related to functions linked to local welfare and development needs.
3. Because many states have not transferred most of the subjects to the local bodies. Hence, many representatives become symbolic only.
4. Because, the decisions taking methods have not been changed at the central and state level. So the people at local level do not enjoy much powers of choosing welfare programmes or allocation of resources.
Read the passage (NCERT Textbook, page 186) given below carefully and answer the questions that follows:
The State government is required to appoint a State Election Commissioner who would be responsible for conducting elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions. Earlier, this task was performed by the State administration which was under the control of the State government. Now, the office of the State Election Commissioner is autonomous like the Election Commissioner of India. However, 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.
1. Who conducts elections for local bodies?
2. Who performed this task earlier?
3. What is the status of State Election Commissioner?
1. State Election Commissioner conducts the elections for local bodies.
2. State Administration under the control of state government.
3. State Election Commissioner is an independent officer who is not linked to nor under the control of election commission of India.
Long Answer Type Questions
Mention some subjects included in the eleventh schedule.
Eleventh schedule was listed with the 29 subjects in 1992 by the 73rd Amendment Act:
- Agriculture and agricultural extension.
- Minor irrigation, water management and watershed development.
- Small scale industries including food processing.
- Rural housing.
- Drinking water.
- Roads, culverts
- Rural electrification
- Poverty alleviation programmes.
- Primary and secondary education.
- Technical training and vocational education.
- Adult and non-formal education.
- Cultural activities
- Markets and fairs
- Health and sanitation.
- Family welfare
- Women and child development
- Social welfare.
- Welfare of weaker sections especially SC’s and ST’s
- Public Distribution System.
- Fuel and Fodder
- Non-conventional energy resources.
- Maintenance of community assets.
- Animal husbandry, dairy poultry.
- Soil forestry
- Implementation of land reforms, soil conservation, etc.
- Khadi village and cottage industries.
- Minor forest produce.
Explain the three tier structure of Panchayati Raj alongwith one function of each of them.
The Panchayati Raj has three-tier system:
- Gram Panchayat at village level
- Panchayat Samiti at block level
- Zila parishad at district level
Composition of Gram Panchayat:
The members of the Gram Panchayat are elected by Gram Sabha and every adult who is the resident of village has the right to vote in these elections.
- Makes arrangements for pure drinking water.
- To improve sanitary conditions.
- Makes efforts for improving health of people by opening hospitals and dispensaries.
Composition of Panchayat Samiti:
- The members are elected directly by Universal Adult Franchise.
- MLAs, MPs, SDM, BDO are the ex-office members.
- Apart, other members are elected and seats are reserved for SC’s and ST’s in proportion of population.
- 30% seats are reserved for women.
- Its term is for five years.
- It looks after all the works of the gram panchayat in the area.
- Promote scientific and modern agricultural practices and distributes seeds, fertilizers and scientific equipments.
3. Composition of Zila Parishad:
- The chairman will be elected by the elected members.
- MPs, MLAs, Collector, Deputy Collectors, SDMs will be ex-officio members.
- The provision of Zila Parishad is composed of elected members.
- A finance commission will be set up to review financial position and to recommend allocation of funds and grants in aid.
- To co-ordinate the working of Gram panchayats and panchayat samitis in the districD.
- The panchayat samitis pass their annual budget and send it to Zila Parishad. 120
Distinguish between Gram Panchayat and Gram Sabha. What are the functions of Gram Panchayat?
- Gram Sabha consists of all the adult members (who has attained the age of 18 years) of a village or a cluster of villages constituting Gram Sabha, whereas Gram Panchayat is a small body, whose members are elected by the members of Gram Sabha.
- The term of office of Gram Panchayat is for five years whereas the Gram Sabha is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution.
- Gram Panchayat is an executive organ and monitors and evaluates the activities of Gram panchayat.
- Gram Panchayat looks after better health and life of the people to make proper civic amenities as village sanitation,drinking water, arrangements of lightening, etc.
- Gram Panchayat keeps the records of birth and death in village to ensure effective implementation of family planning and family welfare programmes, i.e. animal husbandry, agricultural development, etc.
- Gram Panchayat is responsible for certain development functions at village level, i.e. construction of roads, irrigation, etc.
What is the importance of local bodies in modern times?
- The local self bodies are related with the daily life of the people to perform functions related to education, sanitation, public health, etc.
- The local bodies provide the right solution of the local problems due to participation of local peoples, where the central and state governments are unable to pick up the exact nature of problem.
- The local bodies lessen the work-load of the central and state government because they could not spare time to look into the local matters. Hence, local bodies can solve these problems easily.
- The local bodies develop the qualities of citizens to awaken the political consciousness and to experience the sense of liberty and equality which is essential for the success of democracy.
- It creates decentralization of powers, where people directly participate in the daily need, jobs and feed satisfied.