The local bodies remain subordinate to the respective state governments, despite being given the constitutional status as the third tier of the government. Analyse.

The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments created a third tier of government in the form of Panchayati Raj and Municipalities.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Three tiered Panchayati Raj structure at village, block and district level.
  • Direct elections at all three levels.
  • Reservation for women (1/3rd seats), SC/ST (in proportion of population) and Backward classes (depends on the state government).
  • Gram Sabha – all members on electoral roll of village.
  • Municipalities, Municipal corporations, notified area committees, at urban level.
  • Powers and ability to tax as per devolution done by states in 11th and 12th schedules respectively.

However, they remain subordinate to states:

  • Limited devolution of powers.
  • Less fiscal space as dependent on grants.
  • Resistance to raise taxes – post GST tax scope has decreased (octrai tax, etc).
  • Large variations in how states share powers.
  • Lack of capacity building initiatives.

Way Ahead:

  • If done correctly, local governance can do wonders in last mile governance. E.g. Kadamshree in Kerala, Village volunteer program in Andhra Pradesh.
  • States are too big and unwieldy institutions for local governance.
  • Local delivery has gained more prominence in the light of Covid-19.
  • Tax base should be increased through municipal loans, more devolution.
  • Increase the devolution of power under 11th and 12th

Good governance at local level can help states fulfill the aspirations under article 40 of our constitution.

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