Issues hindering the impeccable administrating system of local government in India

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Apparently, local government is liable for and plays an imperative role in raising the living standards of the citizens. The governing skills of the government are one of the decisive factors determining the growth of the country. However, today’s local government is struggling with a series of issues which in turn affects the citizen’s life precariously. Predominantly, local government also known as LG, is confronting challenging issues in day to day life. This blog emphasizes on the issues troubling the LG to accomplish the competent governing.

A competitive database management is lacking, leading to an immense hose in the administration. LG undergoes strenuous effort to compile the integrated data on miscellaneous municipal aspects and performance parameters. A comprehensive data system comprising the records of population consuming water supply, power supply, solid-waste disposal and sewage facilities are not maintained.

On the financial front, LG do not possess adequate funds to implement the plans amending the growth of the country. Typically, municipalities require a substantial amount of money to execute the body functions and the source is derived from various internal and external sources. Internal sources comprise of income generated from various taxes and non-taxes levied by the local government. External sources include funds obtained (in the form of grants, loans, etc.) from the Central government, State government, and financial intermediaries. Most municipalities in India are unable to generate adequate funds from their internal sources. This is owing to the following reasons:

(a) Low level of services provided to citizens;

(b) Deficiencies in computing the tax, non-tax rates;

(c) Reluctance in imposing or increasing direct taxes; and

(d) Inadequate attention to citizens’ grievances

This clearly depicts that LG’s heavily rely on external sources. Additionally, the budget statements of several municipalities indicate that they obtain as much as 80 per cent of their income from external sources which is indeed a serious concern to be considered.

Deficits of technical and operational staff are a chief concern resulting in deteriorating operational efficiency and financial performance of the business. Owing to this scarcity, lack of participation of LG functionaries in the decision making process occurs.

Lack of coordination and accountability has emerged as one of the biggest challenges in local government space.Co-ordination among the agencies within LG is one of the key factors determining the performance of the operation rather than the count of active participation. For instance, Ramesh Ramanathan, the founder of Bangalore’s Janaagraha civic NGO emphasized the importance of coordination in his article entitled, “Too many cooks in the urban services kitchen”. He has illustrated with an example of imagining a puppet whose strings are being pulled by different puppeteers: the hands by one, the legs by another, the head and shoulders by a third. In such a case, from the perspective of the audience, the show would be notoriously mucked. Likewise, the city governance in India is being pulled and pushed in different directions, sometimes even torn apart by a chaotic urban administrative set-up.

An another eye opening wall street Journal article entitled “Megacities Threaten to Choke India” talks about the migrants seeking refuge across India, especially the poor migrants expatriating into cities like Lucknow and the large number of issues pertinent to the management of such influx.

“Corruption and Bribes” are the chief factors polluting the local government environment and hampering the affinity of the citizen and government relationship. A research report published recently highlighted the degree of corruption with shocking facts “ i.e. 468 Cities in India, 28 Departments are involved in Bribery and corruption. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi are marked as most bribed cities, in which Bangalore city is emerging a leading position in terms of Corruption and Bribe.

Despite numerous steps that have been taken to reform the LG in terms of authority, power, function and funds, it can’t be denied that dramatic changes in terms of competent governing are yet to be established. It is high time the Indian government should carefully evaluate the impact of recent reforms and assess the level of autonomy, participation, efficiency, equity, transparency, accountability and the rule of law at local government level by using suitable indicators of good governance.

Blog by : Mr. Ashish Gupta, Senior Business Analyst