We have allowed local bodies to atrophy and starved them of funds to such an extent that while
local government revenues accounted for 15% of the total government revenues in the USA in
the year 2001, the corresponding figure in India was just 3%.
Even after the passing of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, the transfer of funds,
functions and functionaries has been nominal in most States with notable exceptions such as
Throughout the seventies and eighties, a process of centralisation of even basic municipal functions
such as water supply and sanitation into the hands of parastatals such as water boards and
authorities has led to a massive decline in the role and status of local bodies which is only now
sought to be reversed
Local democracy is sometimes treated as synonymous with `decentralisation', but the two are in
fact quite distinct.
In particular, decentralisation is not necessarily conducive to local democracy.
A recent UNFPA report on the status of world population has said that India does not even
recognise peri-urban areas within its urban population
Peri-urbanisation refers to rapid unplanned settlement over large tracts of land in the precincts
of manufacturing facilities on a city's periphery.
Such areas lack clear administration, suffer from sanitation and water problems and are transitional
zones between towns and the countryside.
To treat rural and urban poverty as somehow separate is to adopt a rather short-sighted view
of the problem.
Rural development supports urban development and vice versa