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Day 9 – Q 1.One of the major reasons for the failure of the local self-government institutions in India has been half-hearted devolution of powers to them. Elucidate.

1. One of the major reasons for the failure of the local self-government institutions in India has been half-hearted devolution of powers to them. Elucidate. 

भारत में स्थानीय स्वशासन संस्थाओं की विफलता का एक बड़ा कारण उनका शक्तियों का आधाअधूरा विचलन रहा है। स्पष्ट करें।


The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1993 envisaged the idea of Mahatma Gandhi’s grassroot democratic institutions in the country. It transfers the representative democracy to participative democracy. However, the dark side of this revolutionary concept is the lack of devolution of powers to the local self-government.


Reasons for failure due to half-hearted devolution of powers 

  • 73rd and 74th Amendment providing voluntary provision to state governments in devolving powers and funds. Only 20/29 subjects on an average have been devolved by the state governments.
  • Lack of adequate resources and funds. As much as 95% of a rural local government’s budget relies on funds devolved from a higher level of government.
  • Local government spending is only 2 percent of the GDP.
  • Reluctance of state politicians to devolve much powers to the district level or below because of fear that if such local institutions acquired real powers they would become alternative source of influence and patronage. Even though States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka have done well in devolving the powers, states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar are lagging behind.
  • Even though State Finance Commissions have been established in all states, their recommendations are brushed aside and not implemented.
  • PRIs also suffer from structural deficiencies i.e. no secretarial support and lower levels of technical knowledge which restricted the aggregation of bottom up planning.
  • Lack of separate bureaucratic cadre for local self-government with expertise in local administration. For example, Karnataka has separate cadre.
  • The state and central government have also started creating separate structures or units for implementing specific projects on education, health, and so on; this limits the role and powers of the PRIs.
  • Institutional structures like the district planning boards, created to expedite decentralised planning, are either non-functional or do not give priority to PRIs. 


The time has come to move from political representation to power devolution. There is a need for the state political leadership to accept the importance of PRIs, and devolve power to them as mandated in the Constitution of India. Building the capacities of the PRIs not as mere implementers of the projects but as planners and evaluators would help strengthen the institution. The center also needs to financially incentivize states to encourage effective devolution to the panchayats in functions, finances, and functionaries.

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