Adequately empowering the third tier of Indian federal structure is the key to strengthen federalism in India. Analyse.

The 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution of India ushered in decentralization by establishing PRIs & Municipalities as 3rd tier of Indian federal structure. Despite these constitutional amendments, the 3rd tier suffers from problems inhibiting true empowerment.

It faces the problem of “4Fs”:

  • Funds: less than 5% of funds spent by PRIs & municipalities are their own funds.
  • Functions: The subjects in 11th and 12th schedules have not been developed by majority of states. (The eleventh Schedule contains the powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats. The twelfth Schedule contains the powers, authority and responsibilities of Municipalities).
  • Functionaries: Lack of trained human resource.
  • Functionality: Due to issues like overlapping jurisdiction with district administration.

Need for empowering 3rd tier to strengthen federalism in India:

  • Participative democracy lies at root of the federalism.
  • Empowered local communities can better demand for rights & development (competitive federalism).
  • Healthy cooperation with states & centre (Cooperative federalism).

Way forward:

  • Incentivize devolution of subjects, such as through 15th FC recommendations.
  • Innovative funding mechanism: Municipal bonds, PPP infrastructure.
  • Standardize recruitments at 3rd

A vibrant democracy lies in a vibrant empowered 3rd tier of federal structure.

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