Government, Local Government
census India, National Capital Territory of Delhi, agrarian development, state legislative elections, talukas
India is a union of 28 states and 7 union territories. The Indian states are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal, and Uttar Pradesh. The union territories are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi (formally called the National Capital Territory of Delhi), Lakshadweep, and Pondicherry. The form of state governments in India is generally modeled after that of the central government. The states each have a legislature invested with the governance of state affairs. The union territories of Delhi and Pondicherry also have their own legislatures. Each of these 30 political units is formally headed by a governor, who is appointed by the president of India to a five-year term. The governor’s powers resemble those of the president. The governor’s most important duty is to invite a party leader to form a government after state legislative elections.
The basic territorial unit of administration in the states is the district; at the 1991 census India had 466 districts. Within the districts are units called tehsils or talukas for departments such as revenue and education, and “blocks,” which are the base units for agrarian development. Local self-government includes village councils (panchayats) and municipal councils, which began under British rule. Local governments have been saddled with major duties, few sources of revenue, and a weak base of political power. These bodies were frequently superseded for long periods by the state governments. In the mid-1990s new constitutional provisions, including the requirement that a percentage of village council seats must go to women, were implemented to help improve these local governments. A few states, most notably West Bengal and Karnataka, had successful village government systems in the 1980s and 1990s.
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