What is Local Governance ?
Local governance can be defined as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at local levels. It refers to a system to which fundamental functions, appropriate resources and clearly identified responsibilities are present at sub national levels with linkage between the levels.
However, there is no unique definition of local governance in which all the scholars are agreed. According to H.J. Laski “Local self governance offers the best opportunity to the people to bring local knowledge interest and enthusiasm to bear on the solution of their own local problems.” (Dahal, 2056:3)
Local government is a world wide phenomenon today. It is generally found that in countries where local government is responsible only to the central government (Thapa, 1998:10).
Local government is an old institution with a new concept. Even in the past, local government was in existence in some forms or other in every point of the world, but the concept as such has been advanced afterwards (Paneru, 2000).
Inaugurating the first LSG Ministers conference in India in 1964, the Prime Minister J.L. Nehru stated “LSG is and must be basis of any true system for Democracy; we have got rather into the habit of thinking of democracy at the top and may not be a success unless you build on this foundation from below.”
In short, local governance is related process of local government and local government locally formed autonomous authentic and elected political authority at local level.
Local Governance Practices in Nepal
Nepal has long history of local governance. It is agreed that local governance practices had evolved since Lichhavi regime where ‘gram’ was the grass root unit of the government. ‘Panchali’ was the upper level institution than ‘gram’ (Upadhyaya, 2052). ‘Pradhan’ was the head of Panchali who used to be respected in the society having close approach to king and performed development tasks along with maintaining rules and regulations in the village.
Rana period was a perfect model of absolute authority but there was a system which they followed previous settlement as ‘manyajan kachahari.” In B.S. 2006, Gram Panchayat Justice Act and Panchayat Act were enacted by Mohan Shamser. These acts delegated the Gram Panchayat the right to make certain expansion within a ceiling and also provide some special authority in terms of giving justice and penalizing the criminal (Bist, 2056; Paneru, 2002).
After the establishment of democracy in B.S.2007, Panchayat Act – 2013 was enforced but after collapsing the democracy in 2017 B.S., partyless Panchayat system was established. In this period, also, several efforts were acted to strengthen and improve the situation of local bodies but they could not be independent bodies at local levels.
After re-establishment of multi-party democracy, different provisions have been made to strengthen then and promote the local governance system as Local Bodies Act 1992, Local Self-Government Bill 1996, Local Self-Government Bill -1997 etc. The history of local self governance in Nepal is not long and thus it is not very fascinating. As we know, Nepal has had long history of highly centralized system of government and principle of local government had never been seriously thought over the past local bodies have been operating as agents or as branches of the central government performing its duties and executing policy measures designed by the central authority and relying heavily on it for administrative, functional and financial support (Thapa, 1998).
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