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How to strengthen decentralized governance

GS paper 2

Syllabus: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance-success, limitations and potential etc


Source: The Hindu

Context: It has been 30 years since the 73rd amendment, which envisages a three-tier Panchayat Raj System at the village, intermediate and district levels.


Issues since 30 years: 

  • No regular conduction of elections: the state election commission doesn’t enjoy full power and is merely employed for the conduct of the election process
  • g. After a gap of over 10 years, the Tamil Nadu urban local body polls were conducted in a single phase on February 2022
  • Lack of Effective Devolution of power: The devolution of power and authority to Panchayati has been left to the discretion of states.
  • Some of the important subjects like fuel and fodder, non-conventional energy sources, rural electrification including distribution of electricity etc. have not been devolved in certain states.
  • Insufficient Grants or Funds distributed: Despite the constitutional empowerment, the local bodies face problems of inadequate finance to carry out various activities assigned to them.
    • The state finance commission is not constituted on regular basis in some states.
  • Much of the money given is inflexible: Even in the case of untied grants mandated by the Union and State Finance Commissions
  • Use is constrained through the imposition of several conditions
  • Excessive control by bureaucracy: in some states gram Panchayati are placed a subordinate position.
  • Infrastructural Challenges: Some of the Gram Panchayati do not have their own building and they share space with schools, Anganwadis centres and other places. Some have their own building but without basic facilities like toilets, drinking water, and electricity connection.
  • Poor Oversight– There is poor oversight to check if the existing rules are being violated.

Steps taken :

  • E-Gram Swaraj portal: launched by the Ministry of Panchayati raj, aim to bring better transparency in planning and program implementation.
  • Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA): to address the challenges faced by the rural local bodies and increased fund flow to Village Panchayati.
  • Panchayati empowerment and accountability incentives: is a central sector scheme aimed at incentivization states for devolving funds, functions and functionaries.
  • Criminal elements and contractors: They are attracted to local government elections, because of large sums of money flowing to them.
  • States have devolved powers with respect to five core functions(As per the Fourteenth Finance Commission by the Center for Policy Research):
    • Water supply
    • Sanitation
    • Roads and communication
    • Streetlight provision
    • Management of community assets to the gram panchayats 

Way forward

     According to II ARC:

  • Panchayati should be categorically declared to be an “institution of self-government” and exclusive functions should be assigned to them.
  • To avoid delay in local body elections, the state election commission can be empowered to undertake delimitation exercise and the government can provide the board guidelines for delimitation either by law or by rules.

Other measures needed:

  • Gram sabhas and wards committees in urban areas have to be revitalized: Consultations with the grama sabha could be organized through smaller discussions where everybody can really participate.
  • Local government organizational structures have to be strengthened: Local governments must be enabled to hold State departments accountable and to provide quality, corruption-free service to them
  • One cannot have accountable GPs, without local taxation: The connection between tax payment and higher accountability is well known and it needs to be strengthened. 


The Panchayati Raj system in India should be strengthened as it captures local needs and ensures responsive governance. The implementation of the 73rd Amendment Act of the Constitution should be done in an efficient manner such that the objectives of the Act will be achieved.


Insta Links:

73rd amendment act


Mains Links:

Q. The local self-government system in India has not proved to be an effective instrument of governance”.Critically examine the statement and give your views to improve the situation. (UPSC 2017)


Prelims Links:

  • 73rd Amendment Act
  • 74th Amendment Act
  • e-governance
  • Gram Sabha

With reference to 74th constitutional amendment Act, consider the following statements:

  1. All members of the municipality should be elected directly by the people.
  2. The Parliament is empowered to provide for the manner of election of the chairperson of a municipality.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (a)


  • All members of the municipality should be elected directly by the people.
  • For this purpose, each municipal area shall be divided into territorial constituencies known was ward
  • The state legislature is empowered to provide for the manner of election of the chairperson of a municipality
  • The state legislature can also provide for representation of- persons having special knowledge who will not have the right to vote in the meeting, members of LS, RS, state legislature and council from the municipal area.


October 2022

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