Article I of the Constitution of India (1949) declares that “India … shall be a Union of States”. To a considerable degree, this statement holds true in practice today: state governments are the government level that is responsible for the provision of most public services and accounts for the majority of public spending in India. At the same time, while states are the face of public service delivery, the Union government—or the central government, as it is often referred to—is heavily involved in planning and financing most areas of public policy through Central Schemes. The strength of the Union and state government levels in India stand in contrast to the relatively weak empowerment of governance institutions at the local level. Despite a pair of Constitutional Amendments passed in 1992 that sought to bolster the role of rural and urban local bodies (making them ‘institutions of self-government’), 30 years later, the government level closest to the people continues to be the weakest. The lack of political, administrative and fiscal empowerment of local governments does not only deprive rural local areas from inclusive self-governance, but undermines the self-governance of some of the world’s largest and most productive metropolitan and urban areas.

Subnational governance structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessments

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: India 2024 (Excel / PDF)

Additional resources

India Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

Local government country profile: India (UN Women)

The Local Government System in India. (Commonwealth Local Government Forum)

Regional Authority Index (RAI): India (Hooghe, Marks, et al.)

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Last updated: July 8, 2024