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Decentralization in India

Kenya is one of the decentralized countries in the world. It officially joined countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, United States of America and India. In this article, we focus on India and its decentralized system of government.

India covers a land area which is approximately 3.28 square kilometers and had a population of 1.28 billion people at at July 2015.

India’s population has grown significantly from 361 million people in 1951 and 1027 million people in 2001.

There are 22 official languages used in India. This is plenty of diversity compared to Kenya’s two languages.

Relion is widely practiced in India with majority of the people being Hindus (80.5%); Muslims (13.4%); Christians (2.3%); Sikhs (1.9%); Buddhists (0.8%); jains (0.4%) and others (0.6%).

India gained her independence in 1948 but received its first Constitution some 2.5 years later. That is on January 1950.


India operates under a bicameral legislature. This means that there are two houses. That is Lokh Sabha or House of the People where 545 elected members seat. The second house is Rajya Sabha or Council of States with 250 members.

Devolved units

India is made up of 28 states as well as seven federally administered Union Territories of Delhi and Pondicherry.

Indian states are reported to be very huge in fact they are equivalent to some European countries.

Mandate of Indian States

  • Transport
  • Public Order
  • Education
  • Public Health
  • Social insurance
  • Agriculture

Careful look will show you that Indian judicial system operates at the state level. There are High Courts at each state level and a superior court at the federal level.

In the earlier 1990s, Constitutional reforms were conducted in India and a third tier of decentralized government was introduced. The local authorities were introduced.

It is also unique to note that there are state-based political parties.

The 73rd and the 74th Constitutional amendments were made in 1993 which reserved political seats for the women, marginalized groups and Dalits or the untouchables.


At the state level in India, there are election commissions to preside over local elections.

Village assemblies or gram Sabha were established to have direct participation of village assemblies.

Structure of Indian Devolved government

  • 594 district Panchayats
  • 101 City Corporation
  • 1,430 town municipalities

India is some of the most unequal society with 40% illiteracy and 35% of the population living in extreme poverty.


A trend causing serious concerns in the criminalization of politics as persons who were former criminals have forced their way into politics using money and muscle power.

Read More: Decentralization in Uganda

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