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Point Out the Main Significance of Democratic Decentralization in India

Point Out the Main Significance of Democratic Decentralization in India

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Published by Anupam Gurung
A Research Report On the effects of Democratic Decentralization in India.
A Research Report On the effects of Democratic Decentralization in India.

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Published by: Anupam Gurung on Jun 27, 2009
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08/28/2010

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Point out the main significance of DemocraticDecentralization in India? The system of democratic decentralization came intolimelight by the 73
rd
and 74
th
ConstitutionalAmendments (1993) in order to provide the authorityfor self governance to the villages. The 73
rd
Amendmentgives village, block and district level bodies aconstitutional status under Indian Law. The moreimportant features of the amendment are summarizedbelow;
i.
 The establishment of a 3 tier Panchayat RajInstitution (PRI), with elected bodies at village,block and district level [States with population lessthan 2 Mill are not required to introduce block levelPanchayat].ii.Direct elections to 5 year terms for all members atall levels.iii.Reservation of 1/3 of the seats for women and forbackward classes.iv.A state election commission will be created tosupervise, organize and oversee Panchayatelections at all level.A State Finance Commission will be established toreview and revise the financial position of thePanchayats on 5 year intervals and to makerecommendations to the State Governments about thedistribution of Panchayat funds. At the village level theGram Panchayat area is meant to serve as a principlemechanism for transparency and accountability.According to S N Jha; “
The 73
rd 
and 74
th
amendments
1
 
are designed to promote self-governance throughstatutory recognition of local bodies. The latter areexpected to move away from their traditional role of simply executing the programs handed down to themby the higher levels of government” (Decentralizationand Local Politics_ Pg-103).
It would be proper to assess the significance of Democratic Decentralization in India by analyzing thelevel of progress made by the initiative. Using theconventional classification of political, administrativeand fiscal decentralization, the World Bank’s threeVolume study of Indian Decentralization (World Bank;2000A, 2000B, 2000C)
 
ranks India among the bestPerformers internationally in terms of Politicaldecentralization but close to the last in terms in termsof administrative decentralization. Most of the stateshave held at least one round of elections since 1993. Inits study of 53 villages in Rajasthan and MadhyaPradesh for instance, the World Bank () found out thatvoter turnout for Panchayat elections was well over90% for all categories in term of Gender, caste andclass. This was significantly higher than the turn out forthe 1998 Lokh Sabha elections which was 61% forwomen and 65.9% for men. (Y Yadhav_ India’s ThirdElectoral System/Weekly). In its assessment of theIndian Decentralization the task force on the devolutionof powers and functions upon Panchayati Rajinstitutions (Ministry of Rural Development_ 2001-Source Wiekimedia) found that most of the states hadsatisfied only the basic requirements relating to thetransfer of function, functionaries, funds and financial
2
 
autonomy to the Panchayats. Vyasulu finds that thestate government has devolved little finances andfiscal powers to the Panchayats. Instead, many haveestablished parallel bodies as a channel fordevelopment funding. Self help groups connected tothe Janmabhoomi programme in Andhra Pradesh andthe Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Missions in MadhyaPradesh are two illustrations in this trend. M A:Oommen’s Panchayat Finance and Issues (1999_ Pg-157) concludes that the conformity acts have generallybeen an exercise in amending existing Panchayatlegislation for the sake of satisfying the mandatoryprovisions of the 73
rd
Amendment. He raises thefollowing concern;i.Village Panchayats have been delegated functionswithout proper administrative and financialsupport.ii.With the exception of Kerala and West Bengal,Panchayats lack discretionary powers overspending and staff.iii.States reserve the rights to assign or withdrawfunctions to and from the Panchayats by ‘ExecutiveFiat’.iv.Panchayats lack autonomous budgeting powers.Still much work needs to be done including the removalof corruption to make more effective, thedecentralization initiative, which has shown arespectable level of progress, especially in the states of West Bengal and Kerala.
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