Local Self Government

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Introduction
Local government institutions have always existed in India in one form or another since ancient times. The present form of urban local government owes its genesis to the British rule. The initiation began with Samuel Laing, member of the Viceroy's Council, in the Budget Speech (1861-62) proposing that local services should be based on local resources. Lord Mayo's Resolution of 1870 introduced the concept of elected representatives in the municipalities. Lord Ripon is considered the founding father of urban local government as he implanted the concept of municipal authorities as units of self-government. His Resolution of 18 May 1882 on local self-government dealt with the constitution of local bodies, their functions, finances and powers and laid the foundation of local self-government in modern India. Local self-government played an important role in the Independence Movement. After Independence, the Constitution of India was framed on federal principles. Indian Constitution makers divided the government functions in three lists: Federal, State and Concurrent. Local government bodies are covered in the State List and are governed by the State Statutes or in the case of Union Territories by the Union Parliament. Recent years have witnessed an increasing interest and a growing consciousness of the need and importance of local self-government as provider of services to the local community as well as an instrument of democratic self-government. Local government is an integral part of the national government structure, the level of government closest to the citizens and in the best position both to involve them in the decision making process of improving their living conditions and to make use of their knowledge and capabilities in the promotion of all round development. Local self-government, to borrow a phrase from Sydney Webb, is “as old as the hills”. This can be more true of India than any other country of the world. There is sufficient evidence to establish the fact that the institution of local self-government is almost pre-historic, and the conception of local self-government is indigenous to the Indian soil. Municipal governments have flourished in India since times immemorial. While empires rose and fell, village panchayats which formed an integral part of the national life, helped to preserve democratic traditions in social, cultural, economic and political life, survived the onslaughts of centuries of political upheavals and saved Indian society from disintegration. The existence of local bodies in ancient India is a positive proof of the inherent genius of our people to manage local affairs efficiently and on a decentralised basis. The decentralisation of power in the kingdoms of the Maurya and the Gupta period was unique. Such devolution of power was unknown to the western world until modern times. The local governments at different levels, performing many functions, though not very democratic, were sufficiently autonomous.

Ancient India
The Cholas
Administration of Chola dynasty was monarchical. The Chola Empire consisted of entire South Indian peninsula extending east to west from coast to coast, and bounded by an irregular line along the Tungabhadra River and the Vengi frontier in the north. The Chola dominion extended up to the banks of the Godavari River. The king was a benevolent dictator and the supreme commander. He issued oral commands to responsible officers when representations were made to him. In the tasks of administration and in executing his orders a powerful bureaucracy assisted the king. The justice of the orders of the King depends on the goodness of the man and in his belief in a sense of righteousness.

Role of the King
All handles and levers of the administration were controlled by King as he enjoyed absolute power. Council of ministers and officials took active part in running the administration of Central Government. The higher officials were called Peruntaram and...
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