"A quarter of a century ago, Parliament passed two amendments to the Constitution to empower governance at panchayats and municipal bodies. The promise of transformation of rural India, the 73rd Amendment, came into force on April 24, 1993, and the 74th Amendment promising governance in urban India on June 1, 1993. This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the promised revolution in local governance.
The ‘statement of objects and reason’ admitted to systemic sloth. The 73rd Amendment observed that for forty years panchayati raj institutions “have not been able to acquire the status and dignity of viable and responsive people's bodies”, and the 74th Amendment disclosed that “Urban Local Bodies are not able to perform effectively as vibrant democratic units of self-government.” The twin amendments were meant to address despair and redress deficiencies.
Has that happened? The promised revolution has been converted into politically convenient evolution of devolution. The amendments to the Constitution mooted states transfer 29 functions to panchayats. The report card is sketchy. For the record, a Ministry of Panchayati Raj study shows Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka are outliers. Political expediency dictates cherry-picking by states—of what will be devolved and what will not be."
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