[Solved] “The local self-government system in India has not proved to be effective instrument of governance.” Critically examine the statement and give your view to improve the situation.(UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)

[Solved] “The local self-government system in India has not proved to be effective instrument of governance.” Critically examine the statement and give your view to improve the situation.(UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)

According to the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment acts local self-governments has given constitutional status. Since then it has become a constitutional mandate on the part of the states to make sure that local self-governments work properly.

There was a considerable improvement in the working style, activities performing, public participation etc. Most of the people who are backward, scheduled caste, women have been enjoying the power.

  • Most of the welfare activities performing considerably well. Inspite of that there were serious problems threatening the gross root democratic institutions of the country.
  • The local self-government was implemented by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Acts in 1992 where they were envisaged as the effective instruments of governance. They have not lived up to this expectation, because:
  • Function- Only 8 state governments and 1 Union territory have transferred all 29 functions to PRIs.
  •  • Functions- Only 6 states have devolved matching amount of funds to local governments. They don’t have lucrative taxable income.
  • Functionary- they can appoint only lower level ad- hoc functionaries thereby depending entirely upon the state government for functionaries.
  • They are regarded as subordinate departments by state governments.
  • Lack of political will
  • Lack of adequate support by Central government to make them viable.
  • Lack of awareness in citizens
  • Conflict of interest with regard to district administration as in some states, developmental functions are taken by District Magistrate. E.g.- MPLAD Scheme.
  • Increase in corruption However, there are some success stories too-
  • They have created huge number of political leaders at grass- root level. E.g., Vilas Rao Deshmukh. This has increased the political socialization.
  • Local government in Karnataka led to decrease in power theft and non- transfer of payments. They also trained people to save power.
  • Vellamuda Panchayat in Wayanad district worked towards universal enrolment of children in school and increasing the quality of education. Suggestions to improve their functioning-
  • Providing them adequate function, finance and functionary.
  • Increase in the participation of private sector and civil society.
  • Activity mapping must be made compulsory in all states.

• Increase in the participation of people in decision making in local bodies.

  • Inculcating best practices from different regions.
  • Social audit to be made compulsory for all developmental activities.
  • Delineating the duties and rights of local bodies.
  • Representation from all sections of society especially the vulnerable section. Only a broad- based participative and democratic local government can tread us to the path of sustainable development.
  • Decentralisation is one of the major goals in India’s democratic system. This has allowed creation of Panchayats and Municipalities for local self government. But it has not been fully successful in implementation.

 According to the 14th finance commission there are some funds directly transfer to local bodies depending on their performance, at the state level finance commissions are not appointed, states are not allocating the special funds, most of the functionaries are not made accountable to the local self-institutions. Even in some states they are not conducting elections regularly, some states don’t want loose the control over the reins of power. Because of above problems still they are underperforming and not utilizing their full potential.

The local self government system (LSGs), having an important role in local planning, development and administration, got a big fillip when it got constitutional status under 73rd and 74th Amendments.

Successes of LSGs in India

  • Democratic Decentralisation through the election of 30 lakh representative in panchayats alone (as per Devolution Index Report 2013-14 of IIPA).
  • Voice to the marginalized and vulnerable sections of the society through reservations for women, SCs and STs.
  • Effective public service delivery as per the needs of the local population through LSG allows for bottom-up approach. Example- MGNREGA./local self-government/

Shortcomings of LSGs in India

The LSGs are dependent on the states for:

  • Functions: The progress of devolution of powers and responsibilities to local governments at various levels is poor and uneven.
  • Funds: The local bodies cannot even meet routine functions because the proceeds of various taxes are not available to them as they form part of the Consolidated Fund of the State.
  • Functionaries: There is a capacity deficit among the personnel and elected functionaries due to lack of capacity building.

xAdvantages of local self government system

Wider representation

Local government system in India is wider in representation that includes backward section of society such as women belonging to lower strata. This has allowed them to participate in governance and administration of the country.

Ground level implementation

The schemes of the government needs proper implementation on ground for being successful. The local government system has greater idea of ground level situation for implementing as compared to higher section of the government.

Measures to Improve the Status of LSG (2nd ARC)

  • Clear definition of functions for each level of local government in case of each subject matter.
  • State Finance Commissions should evolve objective and transparent norms for devolution and distribution of funds.
  • Capacity building efforts must attend to both the organisation building requirements as also the professional and skills upgradation of individuals associated with these bodies.
  • Putting in place a well-delineated activity mapping for LSGs.

Way forward

  • Local self Government must be assigned with proper distribution of powers.
  • Providing more autonomy in governance
  • Proper funding and allocation of resources
  • Looking after the matter of disguised candidate
  • Launching of skill up-gradation and digital literacy program

To ensure good governance of a nation, the foundation must have to be strong. In the case of India, empowering the Local Self Government is the easiest way to strengthen the administrative structure. Local self governance has been one of the major steps for greater administrative penetration in India. Even though it has not fulfilled all its ideas, still it cannot be termed a failure due to its importance in rural areas./local self-government/

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