NCERT Textbook - Local Governments Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Political Science Class 11

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Local Governments Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


176
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Eight
LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
INTRODUCTION
In a democracy, it is not sufficient to have an elected government at the centre
and at the State level. It is also necessary that even at the local level, there
should be an elected government to look after local affairs. In this chapter, you
will study the structure of local government in our country. You will also study
the importance of the local governments and ways to give them independent
powers. After studying this chapter, you will know:
± the importance of local government bodies;
± the provisions made by the 73
rd
 and 74
th
 amendments; and
± functions and responsibilities of the local government bodies.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 2


176
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Eight
LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
INTRODUCTION
In a democracy, it is not sufficient to have an elected government at the centre
and at the State level. It is also necessary that even at the local level, there
should be an elected government to look after local affairs. In this chapter, you
will study the structure of local government in our country. You will also study
the importance of the local governments and ways to give them independent
powers. After studying this chapter, you will know:
± the importance of local government bodies;
± the provisions made by the 73
rd
 and 74
th
 amendments; and
± functions and responsibilities of the local government bodies.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
177
Chapter 8: Local Governments
WHY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS?
Geeta Rathore belongs to Jamonia Talab Gram Panchayat, Sehore
district, Madhya Pradesh. She was elected Sarpanch in 1995 from
a reserved seat; but in 2000, the village people rewarded her for her
admirable work by electing her again - this time from a non-reserved
seat. From a housewife, Geeta has grown into a leader displaying
political farsightedness - she has harnessed the collective energy of
her Panchayat to renovate water tanks, build a school building,
construct village roads, fight against domestic violence and atrocities
against women, create environmental awareness, and encourage
afforestation and water management in her village. —Panchayati
Raj Update Vol. XI, No 3 February 2004.
There is another story of yet another woman achiever. She was
the President (Sarpanch ) of a Gram Panchayat of Vengaivasal village
in Tamil Nadu. In 1997, the Tamil Nadu government allotted two
hectares of land to 71 government employees. This piece of land fell
within the vicinity of this Gram Panchayat. On the instructions of
higher authorities the District Collector of Kancheepuram directed
the President of the Gram Panchayat to pass a resolution endorsing
the allotment of the said land for the purpose already decided. The
President and the Gram Panchayat refused to pass such an order
and the Collector issued an order to acquire the land. The Gram
Panchayat filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court against the
Collector’s action. The single judge bench of the High Court upheld
the Collector’s order and ruled that there was no need to take the
Panchayat’s consent. The Panchayat appealed to the Division bench
against the single judge’s order. In its order, the Division Bench
reversed the order of the single judge. The judges held that the
government order amounted to not only infringement of the powers
of the Panchayats but a gross violation of the constitutional status of
the Panchayats. —, Panchayati Raj Update, Vol. 12: Vol. XII,
June  2005
Both these stories are not isolated incidents. They are
representative of a larger transformation that is taking
place across India especially after constitutional status
was accorded to local government institutions in 1993.
But aren’t there cases of male
members of the village panchayat
harassing the woman Sarpanch in
some places? Why are men not
happy when women assume
positions of responsibility?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 3


176
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Eight
LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
INTRODUCTION
In a democracy, it is not sufficient to have an elected government at the centre
and at the State level. It is also necessary that even at the local level, there
should be an elected government to look after local affairs. In this chapter, you
will study the structure of local government in our country. You will also study
the importance of the local governments and ways to give them independent
powers. After studying this chapter, you will know:
± the importance of local government bodies;
± the provisions made by the 73
rd
 and 74
th
 amendments; and
± functions and responsibilities of the local government bodies.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
177
Chapter 8: Local Governments
WHY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS?
Geeta Rathore belongs to Jamonia Talab Gram Panchayat, Sehore
district, Madhya Pradesh. She was elected Sarpanch in 1995 from
a reserved seat; but in 2000, the village people rewarded her for her
admirable work by electing her again - this time from a non-reserved
seat. From a housewife, Geeta has grown into a leader displaying
political farsightedness - she has harnessed the collective energy of
her Panchayat to renovate water tanks, build a school building,
construct village roads, fight against domestic violence and atrocities
against women, create environmental awareness, and encourage
afforestation and water management in her village. —Panchayati
Raj Update Vol. XI, No 3 February 2004.
There is another story of yet another woman achiever. She was
the President (Sarpanch ) of a Gram Panchayat of Vengaivasal village
in Tamil Nadu. In 1997, the Tamil Nadu government allotted two
hectares of land to 71 government employees. This piece of land fell
within the vicinity of this Gram Panchayat. On the instructions of
higher authorities the District Collector of Kancheepuram directed
the President of the Gram Panchayat to pass a resolution endorsing
the allotment of the said land for the purpose already decided. The
President and the Gram Panchayat refused to pass such an order
and the Collector issued an order to acquire the land. The Gram
Panchayat filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court against the
Collector’s action. The single judge bench of the High Court upheld
the Collector’s order and ruled that there was no need to take the
Panchayat’s consent. The Panchayat appealed to the Division bench
against the single judge’s order. In its order, the Division Bench
reversed the order of the single judge. The judges held that the
government order amounted to not only infringement of the powers
of the Panchayats but a gross violation of the constitutional status of
the Panchayats. —, Panchayati Raj Update, Vol. 12: Vol. XII,
June  2005
Both these stories are not isolated incidents. They are
representative of a larger transformation that is taking
place across India especially after constitutional status
was accorded to local government institutions in 1993.
But aren’t there cases of male
members of the village panchayat
harassing the woman Sarpanch in
some places? Why are men not
happy when women assume
positions of responsibility?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
178
Indian Constitution at Work
Local government is government at the village and
district level. Local government is about government
closest to the common people. Local government is about
government that involves the day-to-day life and problems
of ordinary citizens. Local government believes that local
knowledge and local interest are essential ingredients for
democratic decision making. They are also necessary for
efficient and people-friendly administration. The
advantage of local government is that it is so near the
people. It is convenient for the people to approach the
local government for solving their problems both quickly
and with minimum cost. In the story of Geeta Rathore, we
noticed that she was able to bring about a significant
change in Jamonia Talab because of her pro-active role
as Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat.  Vengaivasal village
is able to still retain its land and the right to decide what
to do with it because of the relentless efforts of its Gram
Panchayat President and members. So, local governments
can be very effective in protecting the local interests of the
people.
Democracy is about meaningful participation. It is also
about accountability. Strong and vibrant local
governments ensure both active participation and
purposeful accountability. Geeta Rathore’s story is one
of committed participation. Vengaivasal village Gram
Panchayat’s relentless efforts to secure its rights over its
own land were an example of a mission to ensure
accountability.  It is at the level of local government that
common citizens can be involved in decision making
concerning their lives, their needs and above all their
development.
It is necessary that in a democracy, tasks, which can
be performed locally, should be left in the hands of the
local people and their representatives. Common people
are more familiar with their local government than with
the government at the State or national level. They are
also more concerned with what local government does or
has failed to do as it has a direct bearing and impact on
Is it possible that we only had
governments at the local level
and a coordinating body at the
national level? I think
Mahatma Gandhi advocated
some ideas along these lines.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 4


176
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Eight
LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
INTRODUCTION
In a democracy, it is not sufficient to have an elected government at the centre
and at the State level. It is also necessary that even at the local level, there
should be an elected government to look after local affairs. In this chapter, you
will study the structure of local government in our country. You will also study
the importance of the local governments and ways to give them independent
powers. After studying this chapter, you will know:
± the importance of local government bodies;
± the provisions made by the 73
rd
 and 74
th
 amendments; and
± functions and responsibilities of the local government bodies.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
177
Chapter 8: Local Governments
WHY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS?
Geeta Rathore belongs to Jamonia Talab Gram Panchayat, Sehore
district, Madhya Pradesh. She was elected Sarpanch in 1995 from
a reserved seat; but in 2000, the village people rewarded her for her
admirable work by electing her again - this time from a non-reserved
seat. From a housewife, Geeta has grown into a leader displaying
political farsightedness - she has harnessed the collective energy of
her Panchayat to renovate water tanks, build a school building,
construct village roads, fight against domestic violence and atrocities
against women, create environmental awareness, and encourage
afforestation and water management in her village. —Panchayati
Raj Update Vol. XI, No 3 February 2004.
There is another story of yet another woman achiever. She was
the President (Sarpanch ) of a Gram Panchayat of Vengaivasal village
in Tamil Nadu. In 1997, the Tamil Nadu government allotted two
hectares of land to 71 government employees. This piece of land fell
within the vicinity of this Gram Panchayat. On the instructions of
higher authorities the District Collector of Kancheepuram directed
the President of the Gram Panchayat to pass a resolution endorsing
the allotment of the said land for the purpose already decided. The
President and the Gram Panchayat refused to pass such an order
and the Collector issued an order to acquire the land. The Gram
Panchayat filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court against the
Collector’s action. The single judge bench of the High Court upheld
the Collector’s order and ruled that there was no need to take the
Panchayat’s consent. The Panchayat appealed to the Division bench
against the single judge’s order. In its order, the Division Bench
reversed the order of the single judge. The judges held that the
government order amounted to not only infringement of the powers
of the Panchayats but a gross violation of the constitutional status of
the Panchayats. —, Panchayati Raj Update, Vol. 12: Vol. XII,
June  2005
Both these stories are not isolated incidents. They are
representative of a larger transformation that is taking
place across India especially after constitutional status
was accorded to local government institutions in 1993.
But aren’t there cases of male
members of the village panchayat
harassing the woman Sarpanch in
some places? Why are men not
happy when women assume
positions of responsibility?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
178
Indian Constitution at Work
Local government is government at the village and
district level. Local government is about government
closest to the common people. Local government is about
government that involves the day-to-day life and problems
of ordinary citizens. Local government believes that local
knowledge and local interest are essential ingredients for
democratic decision making. They are also necessary for
efficient and people-friendly administration. The
advantage of local government is that it is so near the
people. It is convenient for the people to approach the
local government for solving their problems both quickly
and with minimum cost. In the story of Geeta Rathore, we
noticed that she was able to bring about a significant
change in Jamonia Talab because of her pro-active role
as Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat.  Vengaivasal village
is able to still retain its land and the right to decide what
to do with it because of the relentless efforts of its Gram
Panchayat President and members. So, local governments
can be very effective in protecting the local interests of the
people.
Democracy is about meaningful participation. It is also
about accountability. Strong and vibrant local
governments ensure both active participation and
purposeful accountability. Geeta Rathore’s story is one
of committed participation. Vengaivasal village Gram
Panchayat’s relentless efforts to secure its rights over its
own land were an example of a mission to ensure
accountability.  It is at the level of local government that
common citizens can be involved in decision making
concerning their lives, their needs and above all their
development.
It is necessary that in a democracy, tasks, which can
be performed locally, should be left in the hands of the
local people and their representatives. Common people
are more familiar with their local government than with
the government at the State or national level. They are
also more concerned with what local government does or
has failed to do as it has a direct bearing and impact on
Is it possible that we only had
governments at the local level
and a coordinating body at the
national level? I think
Mahatma Gandhi advocated
some ideas along these lines.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
179
Chapter 8: Local Governments
their day-to-day life. Thus, strengthening local
government is like strengthening democratic processes.
Check your progress
± How does local government strengthen
democracy?
± In the example given above, what do you think
the Government of Tamil Nadu should have
done?
GROWTH OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN INDIA
Let us now discuss how local government has grown in
India and what our Constitution says about it. It is
believed that self-governing village communities existed
in India from the earliest times in the form of ‘sabhas’
(village assemblies). In the course of time, these village
bodies took the shape of Panchayats (an assembly of five
persons) and these Panchayats resolved issues at the
village level. Their role and functions kept on changing at
different points of time.
In modern times, elected local government bodies were
created after 1882. Lord Rippon, who was the Viceroy of
India at that time, took the initiative in creating these
bodies. They were called the local boards. However, due
to slow progress in this regard, the Indian National
Congress urged the government to take necessary steps
to make all local bodies more effective. Following the
Government of India Act 1919, village panchayats were
established in a number of provinces. This trend continued
after the Government of India Act of 1935.
During India’s freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi
had strongly pleaded for decentralisation of economic and
political power. He believed that strengthening village
panchayats was a means of effective decentralisation. All
development initiatives must have local involvement in
I don’t know about the past,
but I suspect that a non-elected
village panchayat would
naturally be dominated by the
village elders, the rich and men
from upper strata.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 5


176
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Eight
LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS
INTRODUCTION
In a democracy, it is not sufficient to have an elected government at the centre
and at the State level. It is also necessary that even at the local level, there
should be an elected government to look after local affairs. In this chapter, you
will study the structure of local government in our country. You will also study
the importance of the local governments and ways to give them independent
powers. After studying this chapter, you will know:
± the importance of local government bodies;
± the provisions made by the 73
rd
 and 74
th
 amendments; and
± functions and responsibilities of the local government bodies.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
177
Chapter 8: Local Governments
WHY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS?
Geeta Rathore belongs to Jamonia Talab Gram Panchayat, Sehore
district, Madhya Pradesh. She was elected Sarpanch in 1995 from
a reserved seat; but in 2000, the village people rewarded her for her
admirable work by electing her again - this time from a non-reserved
seat. From a housewife, Geeta has grown into a leader displaying
political farsightedness - she has harnessed the collective energy of
her Panchayat to renovate water tanks, build a school building,
construct village roads, fight against domestic violence and atrocities
against women, create environmental awareness, and encourage
afforestation and water management in her village. —Panchayati
Raj Update Vol. XI, No 3 February 2004.
There is another story of yet another woman achiever. She was
the President (Sarpanch ) of a Gram Panchayat of Vengaivasal village
in Tamil Nadu. In 1997, the Tamil Nadu government allotted two
hectares of land to 71 government employees. This piece of land fell
within the vicinity of this Gram Panchayat. On the instructions of
higher authorities the District Collector of Kancheepuram directed
the President of the Gram Panchayat to pass a resolution endorsing
the allotment of the said land for the purpose already decided. The
President and the Gram Panchayat refused to pass such an order
and the Collector issued an order to acquire the land. The Gram
Panchayat filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court against the
Collector’s action. The single judge bench of the High Court upheld
the Collector’s order and ruled that there was no need to take the
Panchayat’s consent. The Panchayat appealed to the Division bench
against the single judge’s order. In its order, the Division Bench
reversed the order of the single judge. The judges held that the
government order amounted to not only infringement of the powers
of the Panchayats but a gross violation of the constitutional status of
the Panchayats. —, Panchayati Raj Update, Vol. 12: Vol. XII,
June  2005
Both these stories are not isolated incidents. They are
representative of a larger transformation that is taking
place across India especially after constitutional status
was accorded to local government institutions in 1993.
But aren’t there cases of male
members of the village panchayat
harassing the woman Sarpanch in
some places? Why are men not
happy when women assume
positions of responsibility?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
178
Indian Constitution at Work
Local government is government at the village and
district level. Local government is about government
closest to the common people. Local government is about
government that involves the day-to-day life and problems
of ordinary citizens. Local government believes that local
knowledge and local interest are essential ingredients for
democratic decision making. They are also necessary for
efficient and people-friendly administration. The
advantage of local government is that it is so near the
people. It is convenient for the people to approach the
local government for solving their problems both quickly
and with minimum cost. In the story of Geeta Rathore, we
noticed that she was able to bring about a significant
change in Jamonia Talab because of her pro-active role
as Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat.  Vengaivasal village
is able to still retain its land and the right to decide what
to do with it because of the relentless efforts of its Gram
Panchayat President and members. So, local governments
can be very effective in protecting the local interests of the
people.
Democracy is about meaningful participation. It is also
about accountability. Strong and vibrant local
governments ensure both active participation and
purposeful accountability. Geeta Rathore’s story is one
of committed participation. Vengaivasal village Gram
Panchayat’s relentless efforts to secure its rights over its
own land were an example of a mission to ensure
accountability.  It is at the level of local government that
common citizens can be involved in decision making
concerning their lives, their needs and above all their
development.
It is necessary that in a democracy, tasks, which can
be performed locally, should be left in the hands of the
local people and their representatives. Common people
are more familiar with their local government than with
the government at the State or national level. They are
also more concerned with what local government does or
has failed to do as it has a direct bearing and impact on
Is it possible that we only had
governments at the local level
and a coordinating body at the
national level? I think
Mahatma Gandhi advocated
some ideas along these lines.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
179
Chapter 8: Local Governments
their day-to-day life. Thus, strengthening local
government is like strengthening democratic processes.
Check your progress
± How does local government strengthen
democracy?
± In the example given above, what do you think
the Government of Tamil Nadu should have
done?
GROWTH OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN INDIA
Let us now discuss how local government has grown in
India and what our Constitution says about it. It is
believed that self-governing village communities existed
in India from the earliest times in the form of ‘sabhas’
(village assemblies). In the course of time, these village
bodies took the shape of Panchayats (an assembly of five
persons) and these Panchayats resolved issues at the
village level. Their role and functions kept on changing at
different points of time.
In modern times, elected local government bodies were
created after 1882. Lord Rippon, who was the Viceroy of
India at that time, took the initiative in creating these
bodies. They were called the local boards. However, due
to slow progress in this regard, the Indian National
Congress urged the government to take necessary steps
to make all local bodies more effective. Following the
Government of India Act 1919, village panchayats were
established in a number of provinces. This trend continued
after the Government of India Act of 1935.
During India’s freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi
had strongly pleaded for decentralisation of economic and
political power. He believed that strengthening village
panchayats was a means of effective decentralisation. All
development initiatives must have local involvement in
I don’t know about the past,
but I suspect that a non-elected
village panchayat would
naturally be dominated by the
village elders, the rich and men
from upper strata.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
180
Indian Constitution at Work
order to be successful.  Panchayats therefore were looked upon as
instruments of decentralisation and participatory democracy.  Our
national movement was concerned about the enormous
concentration of powers in the hands of the Governor General sitting
at Delhi. Therefore, for our leaders, independence meant an assurance
that there will be decentralisation of decision making, executive and
administrative powers.
The independence of India should mean the independence
of the whole of India…Independence must begin at the
bottom. Thus every village will be a republic... It follows
therefore that every village has to be self-sustained and
capable of managing its affairs. In this structure
composed of innumerable villages, there will be ever-
widening, ever-ascending circles. Life will be a pyramid
with the apex sustained by the bottom - Mahatma Gandhi
When the Constitution was prepared, the subject of local
government was assigned to the States. It was also mentioned in the
Directive Principles as one of the policy directives to all governments
in the country. As you have read in Chapter 2, being a part of the
Directive Principles of State Policy, this provision of the Constitution
was non-justiciable and primarily advisory in its nature.
It is felt that the subject of local government including panchayats
did not receive adequate importance in the Constitution. Do you
know why this happened? A few reasons can be advanced here.
Firstly, the turmoil due to the Partition resulted in a strong unitary
inclination in the Constitution. Nehru himself looked upon extreme
localism as a threat to unity and integration of the nation. Secondly,
there was a powerful voice in the Constituent Assembly led by
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar which felt that the faction and caste-ridden nature
of rural society would defeat the noble purpose of local government
at the rural level.
However, nobody denied the importance of people’s participation
in development planning. Many members of the Constituent
Assembly wanted Village Panchayats to be the basis of democracy
2015-16(20/01/2015)
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