Modern Indian History - Local Bodies
Financial difficulties led the Government to further decentralize administration by promoting local government through municipalities and district hoards.
Local bodies were first formed between 1864 and 1868, but almost in every case, they consisted of nominated members and were presided over by the District Magistrates.
The local bodies did not represent local self-government at all nor did the intelligent Indians accept them as such. The Indians looked upon them as instruments for the extraction of additional taxes from the people.
In 1882, Lord Ripon Government laid down the policy of administering local affairs largely through rural and urban local bodies, a majority of whose members would be non-officials.
The non-official members would be elected by the people wherever and whenever officials felt that it was possible to introduce elections.
The resolution also permitted the election of a non-official as Chairman of a local body.
The provincial acts were passed to implement this resolution. But the elected members were in a minority in all the district boards and in many of the municipalities.
Elected members were, moreover, elected by a small number of voters since the right to vote was severely restricted.
District officials continued to act as presidents of district boards though nonofficials gradually became chairmen of municipal committees.
The Government also retained the right to exercise strict control over the activities of the local bodies and to suspend and supersede them at its own discretion.
The local bodies functioned just like departments of the Government and were in no way good examples of local self-government.