Q . The Local self-government is envisaged as the more participatory form of government. Examine the role and issues with the Local Self-government in India and suggestions to improve them.
- The first para could be about the introduction of local self-government and why it was introduced.
- Second para could be about role of third tier of government in democracy.
- The next para to be about the status and issues with the local self-government.
- Final para to be about the key recommendations to improve the working of local self-government.
Local Self-Governments are those bodies that look after the administration of an area or a small community such as a village, a town or a city. Local Self-Government operates at the lowest level of society. It works at the grass-root level, close to the people, touching their everyday life. Local Self-Government is the management of local affairs by such local bodies who have been elected by the local people.
Why was a third tier of government introduced?
- Political sub-federalism
- Grass root level democracy bringing political empowerment at the lowest level
- Better solutions for the issues at ground level.
- To better participation of women.
- Increased quality asset creation at the lower levels of administration.
Roles to play-
- The many roles that the local government is expected to play today include:
- A Regulator, namely the administration of various acts and regulations
- A Provider, that involves providing urban services efficiently and equitably by managing its accounts effectively and efficiently.
- An Agent that takes the schemes of higher levels government to the people. This includes promotion of popular participation
- A Welfare Agency, which provides active assistance to higher level governments in the equitable distribution and delivery
- An Agent of Development, who strives for improvement in the quality of life through the augmentation of infrastructure
- A Dis-empowered third tier
- Elected representatives of the LSG are considered ancillary to the State government
- Many government initiatives encroach into the autonomy of LSGs.
- Financial constraints: Though the financial devolution is constitutionally, it will be complete only with the empowerment by the State government
- Lack of functionaries: Reduced strength and the present workforce require capacity building.
- LSGs are still subservient to the State; especially essential civic items like urban transportation, housing etc.
- A Depoliticised Third tier
- In most of the States, Office of Mayor remains toothless.
- Creation of parastatal agencies (having some political authority and serving the state indirectly) with jurisdiction in LSG list items and that are accountable to the State government, e.g.- urban planning, land-use regulation.
- Both these are features before the 73rd, 74th amendments which are not done away with.
- Other Challenges
- Low women participation in spite of reservation quotas.
- Increased incidence of husband raj.
- Issues with the functionaries.
- Need for HR capacity building.
- Recently Kerala vigilance department has rated LSG department as the most corrupted.
Key recommendations of ARC-II with respect to rural local self-government
- Strengthen the principle of subsidiarity.
- Articles 243G to be amended to replace the word “may” by “shall”.
- Strengthen the voice of local bodies by establishing a legislative council in each state consisting of members elected by members of local bodies.
- Legislators of the area must not be allowed to become members of local bodies.
- There should be a district council in each district with representation from rural and urban areas. The district council should serve as the district government.
- State Election Commissioner should be appointed on the recommendation of a committee consisting of Chief Minister, Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.
- An institutional mechanism should be created to bring the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commissions on a common platform for coordination and sharing of resources and learning from each other’s experiences.
- The government of India should draft a framework law laying down the broad principles of devolution of powers, responsibilities and functions to local bodies.
- All new laws (state and union) must be accompanied by a local government memorandum indicating whether any function is to be performed under the law by local bodies.
- Capacity building efforts for both elected as well as appointed officials of local bodies should be undertaken with increased emphasis on training of women members.
- Set up a local body ombudsman for a group of districts to entertain complaints of corruption and maladministration against both elected and appointed functionaries.
- Panchayat should have the power to recruit their personnel and to fix their conditions of service.
- Parastatals such as DRDA should be wound up.
- Some regulatory functions may also be devolved on panchayats.