(Photo: ClearIAS)

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.