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.