- The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919, under the proposed scheme of diarchy, made local self-government a “transferred subject”. This meant that local self-government was brought under the control of Indian ministers in the provinces.
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In India, the concept of local self-government is not new. Throughout the ages until the British rule, the village communities have kept this system alive.
- When the British came to India, we had our own village government system.
- Some among them (Charles Metcalf, for example) admired it and called panchayats “Little Republics”.
- The British had their own representatives in every region.
- As a result of the British interference, the attitude of the people towards panchayats changed.
- Progressively, the people began loosing faith in the institution of panchayat.
- In 1882, the Government of India Resolution on local self-government was announced. Lord Ripon’s Government had sent circulars to the governments in the provinces on the subject of local self-government, as they wanted to find out what the public opinion was.
- The issues in the circular became the basis for the Government of India Resolution (1882) and later the Local Bodies Act of 1885 came into being. This was the basis for setting up local selfgoverning institutions with a majority of nominated members down to the village level.
- The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919, under the proposed scheme of diarchy, made local self-government a “transferred subject”.
- The idea was to make the local bodies truly representative bodies by bringing them under the popular control.
- This, however, did not make the panchayat institutions truly democratic, as there were various other constraints to overcome. Yet many acts were passed by various states for establishing panchayats.
They had few powers given to them and their financial resources were also limited. The situation remained more or less the same till 1947.