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... [continues]
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