LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENTS IN INDIA
India is a very vast country and her problems are equally vast. Because of the vastness of the land, most of the people and their native villages are far away from the seats of the central and state governments. The problems faced by the villagers do not get adequate attention from the governments. Besides, the villagers haven’t any share or say in the policies, programmes and projects intended for them. So there arises the necessity of having certain administrative machinery at the lowest level to take care of the villages. This need is fulfilled by local self-governments.
Local self-government implies the management of local affairs by the representatives of the locality itself. Local self-governing institutions like Panchayats, Municipalities and Corporations deal with matters chiefly of local concerns, such as health, sanitation, water supply, primary education, construction and maintenance of local roads, street lighting, drainage, disposal of sewage, upkeep of parks and gardens, establishment of libraries and reading rooms, and other such activities.
Modern governments have to look after the welfare of the people. In order to perform this well, the government has to identify the problem of the people and find solutions for them. It is impossible for the government at the national level or the state level to identify the problems of each village or town, as they are overloaded with the general problems facing them. Local self-government bodies alone can identify the problems of a village or a town and solve them easily, because they have the first-hand knowledge of the local problems. The local government also gets the direct co-operation from the people to solve the problems which are local in character. The people also get direct participation in the local government.
India has a democratic system of government at the national and state levels. This system followed in the case of local governments also. Local self-government is an arrangement under which people can govern themselves. These institutions provide the foundation on which the democratic structure of our country stands. It is in and through these institutions that the citizens get training and necessary experience for running higher representative institutions such as the State Legislatures and the Union Parliament.
Local people have first-hand knowledge of the specific needs of the area where they live. Local self-governing institutions are useful in as much as they lend efficiency and economy to the handling of local problems. External officials deputed by the state or the central government can neither understand nor appreciate the nature of local problems. Moreover, the state government is relieved of much of its responsibility, and its time and energy can be utilized for tackling bigger problems. An added advantage of local bodies is that they consist of honorary members and are no burden to the public exchequer.
Thus, it can be concluded that the local self-government makes the government at the lowest level democratic and ensures democracy at the state and national levels. Participation of the people of the same locality makes the government better and efficient.