Local Governments in India

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Naga Sravan Kilaru

Political importance and the structure of Local Government. -“Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all”

India, which had survived many onslaughts of foreign aggression or in other terms, colonial rule, was culturally and socially rich and diverse since times immemorial. It was a herculean task to administer such a very diverse composition that had very limited exposure to different other cultures or practises. Power hungry dynasties, provincial rulers, governors had to, then, employ a less confusing, more credible and sophisticatedly balanced system of governance. Even otherwise, villages in India had their own set up of governance which dated back to centuries. Though most of them were semi-democratic, there was a rich, enduring, logically fabricated system of local governance, when majority of the jurisdiction did not extend beyond few miles meaning there were numerous small provinces. There were many controllers at different levels with a non-uniform method of administration.

The Indian National Congress while it was spearheading India’s struggle for independence always emphasized the issue of decentralization. Two warring legends i.e. Gandhi and Ambedkar had very divergent views of rural local self-government. Gandhi believed that rural local self-government can decentralize all the tasks of governance whereas Ambedkar was very apprehensive about it as villages in those days stood for regression and oppression of the backward classes. This led to no consensus while constitution was being designed. The drafting committee of the constitution subsequently was headed by Ambedkar who has placed it as a non-justiciable part of the constitution directive principles. It took another 40 years before India has put efforts towards amending the constitution.

Post-independence, there were efforts by the union government and also by a few states to promote local governance but they weren’t very...
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