(Photo: ClearIAS)

According to D. Lockard, local government may be loosely defined as a public organization, authorized to decide and administer a limited range of public policies within relatively small territory which is a subdivision of a regional or national government.

A nation develops from its roots and for a nation to develop we need a strong base and in a country like India, the base is the local self-government like municipalities and panchayats, etc. These are the grassroots of a democracy in our country. It gives a good amount of exposure to the people who participate in the governance and running of these institutions, in both political and social aspects, making our democracy more participative as well as substantive. In rural areas, the self-governing bodies are the Panchayats and in urban it is the municipal corporations, etc. Local self-government consists of rural local self-government and urban area local self-government.

In India, villages are always considered as strength of this country. It is said that the soul of India lives in villages and a majority of 60% of the total population currently lives in rural areas. The exponents of the local self-government institutions hold the view that such local self-governments are the basis of democracy and the best way to develop political consciousness among the people. Through the local self-government, the regional and local interests convert into national interest. The Rural Local self-governments are the result of most landmark year 1992, when the 73rd amendment was incorporated in the constitution. Necessary related provisions were added in 1992 by the way of the 74th amendment act, 1992. It bifurcated the urban local self-government system.

Gandhi Ji also emphasized local self-government. To him, development meant a fuller participation of people in the achievement of essential goals. Village is the primary unit of government and from the village upwards, units of government with residuary powers, are to be established. And at each level, complete democracy and freedom are to be guaranteed.

Thus, the local self-government holds a vital role when it comes to the strengthening of democracy. It encourages local, political, and social leadership, thus making people more participative. It makes democracy substantive with its very own existence. These have to shoulder manifold and complex responsibilities. Hence, they are the grassroots of our democracy.


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