Thursday, April 16, 2009

Election Basics: Who does what

1 Functions of union government
The subjects in this list includes subjects of national importance like defense, foreign affairs, atomic energy, banking, post, telegraph, custom duties, inter- state and national highways, railroads and taxation of income.
2 Functions of state government
The state list contains 66 subjects of state importance on which the state governments can make laws. These subjects include police, local governments, trade, commerce and agriculture. In times of national and state emergency, the power to make laws on these subjects is transferred to the Parliament. The concurrent list contains 47 subjects on which both the Parliament and the state legislatures can make laws. It includes criminal and civil procedure, marriage and divorce, education, economic planning, labor welfare, social security and trade unions. However, in case of a conflict between a law made by the central government and a law made by the state legislatures, the law made by the central government will obviously prevail. The local governments allow further decentralization or distribution of power and allow people to participate in the functioning of the Government.
3 Importance of local government
India is a vast country. It is not efficient to go to the Union or State government for every decision or issue. Therefore in addition to Union and State we have local governments that are closer to the people. The government at the Centre of the State may not understand the local problems. The local people.s leader best represent the people in the city or in the village. The residents of a city are better acquainted with and have easier access to their local representatives; this makes the leader more accountable. It is more economical to have decisions made locally to suit the local needs and conditions. In a sense, when you decentralize power you also decentralize corruption.
4 What does local government do?
Local governments are institutions of self government. They have political, functional and economic power for good governance. They provide basic services and infrastructure that are indispensable to our well being.
5Type of local governments
The rural governments are Village Panchayats. The Urban local governments are either Municipal councils or Municipal Corporation.
6Functions of urban local governments
Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes Public health, sanitation and solid waste management Fire services Public amenities including streetlights, parking lots and bus stops Urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens and playgrounds Roads and bridges Slum improvement, urban poverty alleviation Maintenance of burial grounds Registration of births and deaths Regulation of slaughter houses and tanneries Urban planning including town planning Regulation of land use and construction of buildings
7Functions of village local governments
Look after street lights, construction and repair work of the roads in the villages and also the village markets, fairs, festivals and celebrations. Keep a record of birth, deaths and marriages in the village. Look after public health and hygiene by providing facilities for sanitation and drinking water. Provide for education. Implement development schemes for agriculture and animal husbandry. As urban citizens, we sometimes fail to recognize the crucial role the government plays in providing us a better quality of life. Compared to union or state elections, the local elections have the least voter turnout.

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