Importance of Local Self Government - Editorial

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019 3:30 AM

Importance of Local Self Government - Editorial

Background Context

  • The newly elected Rajasthan Govt. to discard the criteria of Minimum Qualification for candidates deciding to contest local body elections.
  • This decision contradicts the amendments initiated in year 2015 which made is mandatory for candidates to have minimum qualification of 10th Grade (Secondary School Certificate) to contest for “Zila Parishad” and “Panchayat Samiti Election” and 08th Grade for contesting “Village Sarpanch Election”.
  • To disallow or do not permit the election application candidates without Functional Toilets in their place of residence. Seeing this, Govt. of Haryana also initiated constraints for contesting local level or local body elections.

Decision had Challenged in Courts: Supreme Court in 2015

  • In the year December 2015, the Two-Judge Bench of the Apex Court in case “Rajbala Vs. State of Haryana” ruled out that the “Amendment Haryana Panchayat Raj Act” is absolutely valid.
  • The judgement upheld the requirement of Educational Qualification is necessary and justifiable for Better Quality Administration and in any case do note violate or contradict with the Right of Equality in the constitution of India.

Educational Qualifications for Contesting Elections is Problematic in Multiple Ways

  • Fundamentally, it disproportionately restricts a legal citizens RIGHT to contest elections.
  • Eventually challenging the underlying Democratic Principles.
  • Denial of contesting election effectively due to Educational Constraints and indirectly abstain citizens to vote their desired candidates. The restriction of “Educational Qualification” eschew half of the Indian population from contesting election effectively.
  • Furthermore the less fortunate or underdeveloped communities “Dalits and Poor” or reserved section of society “womens” are believed to get deprived from contesting election.
  • It would be unwise or ungrateful to blame citizens for the failure of states quest for social & economical progress and fulfilment of constitutional obligations, especially in the country like India, where “inequality” is deeply rooted in every walk of life.
  • The exclusion of potential local candidate form contesting election on the ground of Lack of Functional Toilets or His/Her choice to defecate on open space" does not make any sense, instead these problems can be addressed by the centre programme Swachh Bharat Mission.

Basic Qualification Restriction seems not very helpful in the situation

  • Educational engagement is good for deployment of government policies in appropriate of correct order. But it can also be said that, it is failure of government instruments, as a result of overload with entities of inefficiencies with bad results, and they now transfer their failure to the Citizens Mandate with a title of disguise Educational Compulsion.
  • It is surprising to see Educational Restrictions has a direct impact on fundamental rights of citizens, as a result 68% of the women and 41% of the men belonging to SC/ST category cannot participate or contest local elections. This possibly pops the question, “Who will lead them and put forward or address their socio-economic problems?
  • Politics need more educated people to contest election, but in country like India politics is seen as career belonging to convicts, criminals and not many people are interested in taking part in politics. More reforms and changes are required before implementation of Educational Constraints for contesting election at local level.
  • It would really be good to see more and more people take part in local elections and become integral part of panchayat system.
  • Past experiences has shown that “Wisdom plays well, and it more powerful than Education” at the grass-root local governance, the Indian villages.
  • The primary aim of 73rd and 74th Amendments seek to establish Panchayats and Municipalities Representatives with sufficient number of representatives from SC/ST and more women representatives.
  • Despite the efforts from the Govt. and provisions deployed to accommodate the local government within constitution structure, these efforts and provisions are still seen as Administrative Mechanism for deployment of programs and schemes of the Central and State Government.

Denying local democracy by not holding elections to Local Governments

Insidiously “Sabotaging the Local Government” as representative establishment does not materialize completely through initiation of Constraint for Contesting Elections.

  • Most of the State Government of India seek to take away the idea of local governments by practicing Delayed Elections in the region displaying various reasons or various grounds.
    • Example: The Panchayat elections and Municipalities Elections in state of Tamil Nadu has not been conducted since year 2011.

    • The major industrial centre and important port city of Visakhapatnam (Vizag) - Andhra Pradesh. held their latest Municipal Corporations in the year 2017.

  • As a result of these non-systematic and irregular elections, the local government works as Bureaucratic Machines, absence of elected councils to hold them accountable for the situations. This is direct disgrace to the world biggest democratic society.
  • These irregular election practices actually stand against the 73rd and 74th Amendments (i.e. Lack of regular election and protracted/extended supersessions).
  • The Amendment also authorised establishment of State Election Commission (SEC) within each state to implement and practice regular elections of panchayats and municipalities.
  • The objective of the mandate is also the “Delimitation (fixing the boundaries) of seats”, currently worked upon by the respective State Government.
  • The “Delimitation of the Seats” of the local government is often seen as the act of delaying elections, especially when the ruling political party fears losses.

Conclusion

Republic of India showcases itself as “Worlds Robust Democracy” by conducting regular elections and “Seamless Transfer of Power, at-least at the procedural level as it appears. However the Irregular Elected Council” in certain regions (many local government) discomforts or humiliates the tall claims. The lack of alarming or reporting mechanism to highlight the wrongdoing (irregular elections at local level), discloses our ill structured and bias political agenda in the context of local government.
These ugly practices of irregular elections and preventing or disallowing contestants/participants on the ground of restrictions imposed on them (such as minimum educational qualification) is holding local government from becoming truly representative establishments.

Earlier history of India stands witness to speak about many Leaders of Indian Politics, they contributed to the development of the India and its progress to match the global economical marathon and outstanding reforms at national level, despite them being uneducated and unfortunate to get education. Hence it won’t be unjust to say that the, qualification verdict completely disregard these honourable Leaders from India and went ahead to impose the Educational Qualification Requirement to clearly ignore the local government and dismantle the local representative establishments.