“The process of decentralization in India started in 20th centuries during British colonial rule. The decentralization process started with establishing local governance institutions in India by British India regime. The Father of the Indian Nation Gandhi during pre-independent struggle he emphasized a lot on Village Planning it become later a base for strengthening decentralization.
In 1959 local governance system started in all over India as a mandate. In 1992 Indian parliament passed an historical bill through 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment act to provide more autonomy and constitutional status for local bodies by making village as a basic planning unit. Many provincial governments in India devolved powers various to local bodies in terms of funds, functions, and functionaries.
In the 50 years of decentralization process India has many experiences in that field. The 73rd constitutional amend act provides a lot of autonomy through various sections of the act. The village is responsible for grass root level planning and it has to be approved by the gram sabha (it is a general body of village, which approves and reviews the activity of the gram panchayat). In the XI part of constitution, the Indian parliament incorporated 29 subjects, which are to be dealt by village panchayat.
In the year 2004 the Government of India, the Ministry of panchayati raj conducted 7 national round table conferences across the India on various aspects related to strengthening and local bodies and enhancing decentralized planning. These conferences organized with various counterparts at provincial levels and civil society. All national round table conferences unanimously made few important resolutions and all state governments and union territories came forward and signed on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of India. According to this MoU all state government should devolve powers to all local bodies based on “Principle of Subsidiarity”. Based on activity mapping with departments the decentralization process has been taken place.
All districts those who have zilla panchayath (a district level local body) must and should constitute district planning committees (DPCs) to prepare comprehensive plans and state government should allocate appropriate budgets them. As a result the zilla panchayath will become a competent authority to do planning and implementation of development and welfare programmes in entire district.
At national level India has National Planning Commission and at grass root level Gram Panchayath is planning body. The unique feature is both are constitutional bodies. Still in the decentralization process in India, looking like it is in a fluid stage. Nevertheless, many changes have in decentralization process.
One more important thing in this decentralization process is the national rural employment guarantee programme, which provides 100 days wage guarantee for rural poor in a year. This programme is also implementing by the village local body. Right from beneficiary selection, implementation, wage payment, monitoring is totally doing by village local body. The right to information is also using in decentralization process in India. These two programmes are strengthening the decentralization process in India.” – Sriram Kannekanti – Hyderabad, India