Urban Local Government And Significant Issues In Indian Administration – Paper II

Urban Local Government

Undertanding and working on developing Urban local government and rural local government plays a very important role. In the era of globalization, the state is transforming. And urban local bodies in congested areas of big cities should be provided with different ways to transform. To explain the structure of urban local government, one needs to research at a deeper level, i.e; on the concepts and difference between rural local government and urban local government. Here are some urban local government notes comprising information about everything related to urban local govt, from its ministry to the global-local debate and new localism.

Global-Local Debate And New Localism

The 1990s have seen a twin development in India. In 1991, the country embarked on a course of liberalization, privatization, and globalization. In 1992, the Indian federal system was restructured through a constitutional amendment, to make it three-tiered and to empower the local state. While globalization can act in ways that make the market supreme, democratic decentralization can serve as a countervailing factor in that it empowers the people at the grassroots. Also, the global and the local could be seen as interdependent elements in a universal process, best exemplified as “glocalisation.

Nation-states function not only as political agencies in a complex system of power from world to local levels, but they have centrality because of their relationship to territory and population. If ‘sovereignty’ is of decisive significance, it is because the state can legitimately transfer power or sanction new powers both ‘above’ it through agreements between states to establish and abide by forms of international governance and below’ it, through the constitutional ordering within its territory in respect of the relationship of power and authority between levels of governments and civil society.

Governance is a function that can be performed by a wide variety of public and private, state and non-state, national and international institutions and practices. Governing powers cannot simply proliferate and compete. The different levels and functions of governance need to be tied together in a division of control. They need to be ‘sutured’ together into a relatively integrated system and in this, the nation-state assumes critical salience.

Viewed differently, the nation-state has become both too big and too small. It is too big to cater to citizens needs and hence the need for decentralization which spells more autonomy to local bodies. It is too small to deal with global trends. The state now plays the role of a facilitator or enabler, permitting localities to become arenas for testing, experimenting and working out policies. Localities, therefore, have become significant sites of action, Local policies and strategies are formulated not only to revitalise local structures but also to cut a positive image of cities to find a place in global ordering. Hence, there is a double movement, or globalization on the one hand and devolution, decentralization and localization on the other, which has been termed as ‘glocalisation’.

When globalization is modified by its contact with the local, new forms of interaction, making for interesting fusion and creativity to arise, resulting in a transformation of political and social life at the local level. Here, non-state, voluntary bodies play a significant role in the expanding political space. This is seen as a ‘double democracy’ of government and political life at both the global and local levels, forging authentic alternatives for the people. This kind of thinking is reflected in the debates of the General Assembly of the United Nations which recognized the importance of the local in the era of globalization. The World Development Report, 1999-2000 also focuses on globalization and localization and indicates that they raise new challenges as well as new opportunities for revitalising the local realm. Localisation, it asserts can lead to a decentralized government which can make for a more responsive and efficient local government.

In the context of development, mention must be made of the new wave of theoretical development described as New Localism. It is identified with the new local state and local activism. It concentrates on political-cum-administrative restructuring taking place, vertically in terms of centre-state-local relations and horizontally. though a redefinition of responsibilities between the state and organizations of civil society, between the public and private sectors at the local level. Horizontal restructuring looks at the participatory, facilitative, regulatory and adjustive roles that local governments can play in respect of the market.

Significant Issues On Indian Government

Here are some notes for significant issues on the Indian Government, regulatory commissions, and regulatory institutions.

Regulatory Commissions

The onset of liberalization in India in the early 1990s was the result of the internal local and balance of payments crises; as much as the ongoing process is of international speciality and global competition. The increasing reliance on market forces and price signals have altered the risk profile of economic activity and heightened the prospects of market failures. Independent Economic Regulators’ were gradually established to deal with the anticipated abuse of market power by private producers in inherently monopolistic sectors and to contain the Casey decentralized and complex transactions in the capital markets leading to risks, which lead to a systemic collapse.

There are two major segments in India now that have active independent regulators-the financial sector and infrastructure utilities. Prominent among the former are SEBI and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA). Several regulators now oversee infrastructure sectors-Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), various State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP). These institutions have been effective in varying degrees and have transformed the landscape of the sectors under their respective ambits by activist actions or sustained chipping away of the current logjam of institutional barriers and market power of (public sector) incumbents.

The new regulatory commissions are different from those appointed in the past, like the Tariff Commission, Forwards Markets Commission, even the Disinvestment Commission. These were mostly ‘advisory’ in nature, or ‘restrictive’ in nature, implementing centrally planned outcomes. There were other statutory bodies like the Company Law Board, Board of Industrial and Financial ‘Reconstruction (BIFR), Debt Recovery Tribunal, and Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, which are quasi-judicial and have the power to enforce their decisions.

The first statutory independent regulatory commission was the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), established in January 1992. The first regulator for infrastructure utilities was the Orissa ERC, established in 1996. This was followed by TRAI in 1997 and TAMP. CERC was established in 1998. Many states have also established their own Electricity Regulatory Commissions. Before this, publicly owned monopolies operating infrastructure utilities were ‘regulated’ either by themselves or some other arm of government. The Ministry of Finance, the Department of Company Affairs (DCA), and the RBI, besides the individual stock exchanges, were the regulators in the financial sector. The Department of Telecom (DoT) was the regulator in the telecom sector under the Indian Telegraphic Act (1885) and the India Wireless Telegraphic Act (1933).

The State Electricity Boards (SEBs) and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) ‘were the electricity regulators under the Electricity Supply Act (1948) and the India Electricity Act (1910). The Directorate General (Shipping) at the centre and respective state governments were the port regulators under the Indian Ports Act (1908) and the Major Ports Trusts Act (1963).

Most regulators came into existence after the reform process was underway. SEBI is the only regulator (apart from the fledgling IRDA) that was set up conterminously with the restructuring of the market. The scope and functions of the regulators also differ widely across sectors. Independent regulators do not make policy-that in the domain of government-but they do formulate the rules of the game and the conditions for a level playing field for the players in their respective sectors. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been mandated to regulate the ‘sector as a whole. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has licensing powers for interstate transmission of electricity.

Selected Regulatory Institutions In India

Securities And Exchange Board Of India (SEBI)

The functioning of the stock exchanges in India has shown many weaknesses, with long delays, lack of transparency in procedures and vulnerability to price rigging and insider trading To counter these shortcomings and deficiencies and to regulate the capital market, the government of India set up the Securities Exchange Board of India in 1988. Initially, SEBI was set up as a non-statutory body but in January 1992 it was made a statutory body. SEBI was authorized to regulate all merchant banks on issue activity, lay guidelines and supervise and regulate the working of mutual funds and oversee the working of stock exchanges in India. SEBI, in consultation with the Government, has taken a number of steps to introduce improved practices and greater transparency in the capital markets in the interest of the investing public and the healthy development of the capital markets.

Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India (TRAI)

in early 1997, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was established under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 to regulate telecommunications services and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, The establishment of the regulator was considered necessary in the context of liberalization and private sector participation in the telecom sector and to provide a level playing field for all operators,

By amendments made in early 2000 to the TRAI Act, the entire telecom regulatory framework, and the disputes settlement mechanism were strengthened. Besides bringing about clarity in the role and functions of the Regulatory (TRAI), certain additional functions were also entrusted to it. A separate disputes settlement body known as the Telecom constituted for expeditious settlement. Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal was also of disputes.

Electricity Regulatory Commissions (ERCS)

There are now many State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) besides the Central ERU: The Orissa ERC is the oldest, established in 1996, and the CERC was created in 1998, through the ERC Act. The central commission regulates bulk electricity tariffs up to the boundaries of states and interstate transmission tariffs. The CERC also has powers to license private investment in transmission, with the consent of the public sector, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL), which is a state monopoly. Tariffs for generation, transmission, distribution within a state, as well as purchase and supply, are regulated by the respective SERC. It is also a mandate for CERC to develop a competitive market for bulk electricity.

Tariff Authority For Major Ports (TAMP)

As in the other sectors, an anticipated shortage of capacity in ports and a paucity of public funds was expected to result in severe bottlenecks in an area deemed in the 1990s to be critical to India’s growth exports. Private participation and investment were, therefore, considered essential.

To address the concerns of private operators of discriminatory treatment and charges by the incumbent Port Trusts, a port regulator-TAMP-was established in 1997. With the Port Laws (Amendment) Act in April 1997, which repealed significant portions of the Major Port Trusts Act (1963), TAMP was vested with powers of fixing tariffs. There are now terminals, jetties, and other services being provided by major international port operators in many of the major ports. In the meantime, many private and public industrial enterprises, sensing the difficulty of ensuring the timely movement of their freight cargoes through the major ports, decided to set up their own ports and specialized terminals, Intra- and inter-port competition is expected to increase rapidly.

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