An Analysis of Local Government

  • Rangin Halder
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  • Rangin Halder

    Student at National University of Juridical Sciences, India.

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While India is celebrating its 75th independence, it is the right time to look back at the local government, which deals with the rural population, which was 450 million in 2017. It has been estimated that it will increase to 506 million in 2022. The local government is an important institution of this nation. It remains directly and closely connected to the people and deals with their issues in the most available decentralised way. Its proper functioning can be only be ensured by looking at its evolution, the power it has to execute the requirement of people, and by rectifying the fault, it has in it. In the piece, we will focus on the evolution of local governance in India, how significant the 73rd amendment to the constitution is empowering the local government, and we will also focus on its faults.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 1, Page 1579 - 1586


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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits remixing, adapting, and building upon the work for non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.


Copyright © IJLMH 2021

I. Introduction

The Indian Constitution, which was adopted on 26th January 1950, has many features for the betterment of society and cooperation between the power holders. One of such features is federalism. Even though India’s Constitution does not refer to the country as a federation, on the other hand, Article 1 of the Indian Constitution refers to India as a “Union of States.” This signifies that India is a union made up of many intertwined states. The states are not allowed to secede from the union under any situation. They do not have the authority to leave the union. The constituent entities, or states in a genuine federation, can leave the union. India is not an actual federal government since it mixes the characteristics of a federal government with those of a unitary government, resulting in a quasi-federal government.

Since ancient times, local governance has been popular in India. Village Panchayats have been documented in the shape of village communities throughout history. Invaders have built and destroyed empires throughout the centuries, but these settlements have maintained their identity. Villages were regarded as economic and administrative entities, with village chiefs serving as government agents. During pre-independence, the framework of local self-government was not well organised. Hence, to give it a proper structure, the constituent assembly put the subject of local governance under the state list, and Article 40 was inserted. Article 40 of the federal Constitution of India’s chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy has highlighted how village panchayats should be formed.[2] Even after this attempt by the constituent assembly to strengthen its framework, it suffered from a lack of uniformity. It was under state subject, and local governance rules in different states differed. To solve this problem, the 73rd amendment was introduced in India, which was considered a revolutionary amendment for the local self-governance in India.

This paper will discuss the background of the formation of local self-governance in India and its many other aspects. We will also try to answer the following research questions-

  • How does the 73rd amendment empower the local self-government of India?
  • Do faults currently present in the local government system?

To substantiate my opinions and answers, several materials have been used. Primary sources like amendments, Constitutional articles, etc., have been used, and under secondary sources, several websites, blogs, journals, etc., have been used.

II. Evolution of local self-government in India

The term ‘Panchayat’ refers to five senior leaders chosen by the local community. In 1946, Mahatma Gandhi emphasised that Indian freedom must begin grassroots. By establishing a three-tier Panchayati Raj structure that allows people to participate in rural rehabilitation, Gandhiji’s vision has become a reality. Panchayat Raj refers to democratic decentralisation and the appointment of local self–government at several levels, including village, block, and district. Rural development and expansion necessitate improving the rural population’s socioeconomic situation long-term by optimising local resources, both natural and human. The spirit of growth and expansion is found in ‘promoting’ the rural sector rather than ‘providing’ it. As a result, self-sufficiency should be the primary goal of rural development. Gandhi has always emphasised the need for rural community self-sufficiency and self-reliance and the necessity to utilise local resources for development efficiently. Villages should strive for absolute self-sufficiency, fundamental necessities like food, clothes, housing, education, and health. [3]

Various committees, including the Malaviya Committee (1956), the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee (1957), the Ashok Mehta Committee (1978), the Hanumantha Rao Committee (1983), the G.V.K. Rao Committee (1985) and the Singhvi Committee (1986) have studied and analysed the development, functioning, autonomy, freedom, and weaknesses of the Panchayati Raj system and remedial measures.

Since the 1950s, policymakers have been concerned with rural development. The Community Development Programme (C.D.P.) was announced in 1952. It was a programme that was implemented to help with rural rebuilding. It is founded on the idea that rural life is an organic whole and that no progress in any area would be possible unless all sectors were addressed simultaneously.[4] The C.D.P., however, failed to meet its objectives owing to a lack of public engagement and initiative. The Balwant Rai Mehta Committee emphasised the need to establish democratic institutions at the foundation level, known as panchayats, to secure people’s participation in implementing rural development programmes.[5] In addition, the Ashoka Mehta committee was tasked with determining the role of panchayat raj and the methods for achieving faster growth and rural development. The committee made various proposals, primarily based on decentralisation principles, for the growth and extension of India’s panchayat raj system. The Ashoka Mehta committee made several important recommendations, including establishing constitutional status for panchayat raj institutions. India approved a new plan of action for agricultural growth and reforms in 1966, centred on using high-yielding wheat and paddy varieties and a policy of remunerative pricing for farmers. This approach is based on the idea that poverty is rooted in a lack of economic growth.[6] The importance of the Panchayati Raj System as an effective instrument for people’s participation has been emphasised by several committees over the years, including the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee in 1957, the Ashok Mehta Committee in 1977, and many others.

After years of deliberation, the 73rd amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1992. This amendment created the essential constitutional framework for democracy at the grassroots level, a tremendous step forward. The Panchayath Raj system consists of I Zilla Panchayath, ii) Taluk Panchayath, and iii) Gram Panchayath. Since the 1990s, strengthening Panchayati raj institutions and implementing economic reforms have been critical policy developments. Both of these features are critical for the evolution and prosperity of our society since they provide community members with simple access to services. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments were driven by the necessity for local self-governance at the primary level.

III. Salient features of 73rd amendment

73rd amendment was considered a revolutionary amendment in respect of local self-government due to its salient feature. Some of its salient features are following[7]

  • Gram Sabha is a body made up of all the people listed on the electoral rolls in a village that falls under the panchayat’s jurisdiction at the local level. There are no elected representatives because everyone on the electoral lists is a member of Gram Sabha. Furthermore, in the Panchayati Raj system, the Gram Sabha is the only permanent unit not formed for a certain period. Even though it forms the cornerstone of the Panchayati Raj, it is not one of the three levels of the system. Gram Sabha’s powers and functions are established by legislation by the state legislature.
  • Three tiers of Panchayati Raj – Part IX calls for a three-tiered Panchayat system to be established at each state’s village, intermediate, and district levels. The Panchayati Raj system in India became more uniform due to this provision. States with populations under 20 lakhs, on the other hand, were given the option of not having the intermediate level. These three levels’ members are all elected. Furthermore, at the middle and district levels, the chairman of panchayats is indirectly elected from among the elected members. The election of the chairman of the Panchayat (Sarpanch) at the village level, however, may be direct or indirect, as allowed by the state in its Panchayati Raj Act.
  • Reservation in Panchayats – At every panchayat level, there is a provision for reserving seats for S.C.s and S.T.s. At each level, seats will be reserved for S.C.s and S.T.s in proportion to their population. A third of the earmarked Seats must be reserved for women from the S.C. and S.T. communities. Direct elections must fill 1/3 of the whole number of seats, with the remaining 1/3 designated for women. An amendment bill is currently underway to boost women’s reservations to 50%. The reserved seats in the panchayat may be assigned to various constituencies through rotation. The state may also make provisions for chairpersons’ posts to be reserved by legislation.
  • Duration of Panchayat – The Panchayats have been given a defined 5-year tenure, and elections must be held before the end of the term. However, in compliance with state laws, the panchayat may be dissolved early for particular reasons. In that event, elections must be held within six months after the dissolution.
  • Elections – The provisions relating to Panchayat elections are enshrined in Article 243K.[8] In the case of Panchayats, this provision provides for establishing a State Election Commission. This State Election Commission would oversee, direct, and control Panchayat elections and prepare electoral registers. The article protects the electoral commission’s independence by stating that the election commissioner may only be dismissed in the same way and on the same grounds as a judge of the High Court. The courts have no authority over Panchayat elections if there is a disagreement. This means that the Panchayat election may only be challenged through an election petition filed with an entity designated by the State legislature.  The Governor will appoint the election commissioner for this reason. The Governor must also decide on the terms and circumstances of the Election Commissioners’ position.

IV. Faults in the local self-government system

The lack of comprehension of the function, idea, and primary goals that panchayat representatives are supposed to achieve. For some, it is an organisational body and a mandate of countryside local authorities for others. This confusion might hinder the process’ efficacy, resulting in uncertainty and ambiguity.

In some instances, a lack of tech knowledge leads to rapidly deteriorating productivity levels. The authorities started the e-panchayat initiative in the 360-gram Zilla Parishad. On the other hand, these regions lack equipment and have inadequate broadband internet access. Such an e-governance initiative aims to deliver civilian services online, keep gram panchayat resources, and freely access gram panchayat software and information.

Panchayats are often recognised as a venue for power shenanigans and rallies. It is often seen as an extension of its dominant political parties. Furthermore, the state administration allows panchayats to operate in their favour rather than in line with democratic decentralisation objectives. Differences amongst government bureaucrats can also occur. The 73rd Convention has limited the bureaucracy’s ability to exercise control and privilege. There is a significant difference in their knowledge and attitude between the top contributor and the administrators. Concerns about relinquishing power due to delegating powers to Gram Sabha have scared MLAs, MPs, and employees. Senior political actors have turned antagonistic to lesser political leaders because of their lack of experience, comprehension, and other flaws. They would seize the chance to criticise the Panchayati Raj’s operation.

Furthermore, MLAs and MPs are already in jeopardy since the fortunes of city leaders are expected to improve. As a result, political figures and the decentralisation process are at odds. Both 73rd and 74th Constitutional changes have resulted in substantial improvements that encourage fair opportunities and increase participation of women in government. Ladies have now been allocated around a third of the total number of Electoral districts. Permitted to participate in mainstream society is also ensured and enhanced. It aspires to create a basic level of national policy towards women. This systemic change had tremendous benefits, putting lakhs of ladies into Panchayat management positions. The ratification of this Modification has to lead to the Decentralisation Process recognising women’s rights, which is a crucial way of bringing women’s untapped potential to government. It facilitates women’s participation in village Council planning, a judgement call, and execution. Women’s delegates have demonstrated their capacity to evolve and learn new skills such as managing money, effective community-based redevelopment, and so on. Women are primarily excluded from PRI or state governing systems, notwithstanding the beneficial benefits. Proxy tactics, energy, and sexual preference prejudice are continuing problems. Women sarpanches have had to confront tremendous brutality in their groups to challenge existing power structures. It has also been noticed that male relatives use women’s status in their respective homes to run for polls, allowing the males to exert influence over the PRI through all the women. There are several significant issues; it is the responsibility of individuals to evolve and embrace a more enlightened attitude towards women. Such problems can be solved by acknowledging female empowerment and modifying our thought patterns.

V. Conclusion

The establishment of Panchayat Raj is still a watershed moment in the evolution of grass-roots functional roles. Panchayats have played a significant role in developing Today’s rural areas. This Panchayati Raj system has witnessed several challenges, which have been discussed above. However, it is past time for concrete remedial action to guarantee that leadership is representative. These problems can be solved, but it will take the people’s participation to accept the adjustments. For individuals to properly comprehend the essence of this paradigm, the still-dominant belonged system must be gradually removed.

First and foremost, the problem that persists today should be acknowledged. The complexity of the issues must be recognised; further exposure and recognition in parliament throughout question hour may be explored. To operate the institutions efficiently and successfully, substantial funding is required. In terms of holding corrupt officials accountable, there must be transparency at all government levels.

Furthermore, in several Indian states, PRIs are seen as a forum for delivering social justice via conflict resolution, allowing access, expense, and participation. The constitutional imperative to make litigation accessible to all includes the PRIs’ resolving dispute’s role. It relieves the judicial system of some of its burdens and allows for more rapid due process. In addition, conflict resolution panels have been established at the several levels of the municipality that operate under the Panchayats’ authority. To avoid any conceptual inconsistencies, the focus should also be on people management learning and support. The position of women in the committee must be acknowledged and not carried over with male relatives; else, the proposal would be a complete failure. Instead, they should focus on increasing community participation in general. As a result, notable reforms in policy and regulations are required to fully realise people’s involvement in this governing structure.


VI. Bibliography

  • Dr Shubhangi Rathi, Gandhian concept of village development and India’s development policy,
  • Puja Mondal, The Community Development Programme of India, YourArticleLibrary
  • Patil Amruta, Balwant Rai Mehta Committee – Indian Polity Notes, Prepp
  • Patil Amruta, Ashok Mehta Committee – Indian Polity Notes, Prepp
  • 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, 1993
  • “Article 243K and removal of state election commissioner: Explained”.


[1] Author is a student at National University of Juridical Sciences, India.

[2] INDIAN CONSTI., Art. 40

[3] Dr. Shubhangi Rathi, Gandhian concept of village development and India’s development policy, MKGandhi,

[4] Puja Mondal, The Community Development Programme of India, YourArticleLibrary,

[5] Patil Amruta, Balwant Rai Mehta Committee – Indian Polity Notes, Prepp,

[6] Patil Amruta, Ashok Mehta Committee – Indian Polity Notes, Prepp,

[7] 73rd Constitution Amendment Act, 1993.