Decentralization stands as a pivotal objective within India’s democratic framework. This vision gave rise to Panchayats and Municipalities, establishing local self-governance through the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments.

However, the complete realization of this concept has encountered significant challenges in implementation.

Main Body:

Drawbacks of the Local Self-Government System in India:

Dependence on States:

Functions: The process of devolving powers and responsibilities to local governments remains uneven and inadequate across various levels.
Funds: Local bodies face constraints in performing even basic functions, as the revenue from various taxes is not directly accessible to them; instead, it constitutes part of the State’s Consolidated Fund.

Functionaries: Inadequate capacity among personnel and elected representatives due to a lack of comprehensive capacity-building initiatives.

Limited Powers: Proper delineation of powers is absent, leading to ambiguity and confusion.

Financial Dependency:

  • Limited taxation authority.
  • Heavy reliance on state legislature for funding.
  • Insufficient funds for effective governance.

Election Irregularities:

  • Prevalence of unfair practices during the election process.

Advantages of Local Self-Government System:

  1. On-Ground Implementation: Allows for effective execution of policies at the grassroots level.
  2. Democratic Decentralization: Over 30 lakh representatives are elected in panchayats alone, as per the Devolution Index Report 2013-14 of IIPA.
  3. Empowerment of Marginalized Sections: Reservations for women, SCs, and STs offer a voice to the marginalized and vulnerable segments of society.
  4. Targeted Public Service Delivery: Local self-governance facilitates responsive and context-specific public service delivery, exemplified by initiatives like MGNREGA.

Measures to Improve:

2nd ARC Recommendations:

  • Define clear roles for each level of local government in every subject matter.
  • State Finance Commissions should establish transparent norms for fund devolution.
  • Focus on capacity building for both organizational strengthening and individual skill enhancement.
  • Develop a well-structured activity framework for Local Self-Governments.

Enhanced Autonomy:

  • Extend the autonomy enjoyed by 5th and 6th schedule states to other regions, fostering greater accountability in administrative actions.

Curbing Dummy Candidacy:

  • Introduce measures to prevent the election of “dummy candidates” that undermine the essence of reservations and local administration.


Local self-governance stands as a significant stride towards deeper administrative reach within India. While its complete realization remains a work in progress, it would be unjust to label it a failure given its indispensable role in rural areas.

Through targeted reforms, improved capacities, and increased autonomy, local self-governance can continue to evolve as a potent tool for effective governance.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish August 30, 2023