Local self-government in India refers to governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state. India is a federal republic with three spheres of government: central (union), state and local. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments give recognition and protection to local governments and in addition each state has its own local government legislation. Since 1993, local government in India takes place in two very distinct forms. Urban localities, covered in the 74th amendment to the Constitution, have Nagar Palika but derive their powers from the individual state governments, while the powers of rural localities have been formalized under the panchayati raj system, under the 73rd amendment to the Constitution. For the history of traditional local government in India and South Asia, see panchayati raj.
As of summer 2017, there are a total of 267,428 local government bodies of which 262,771 are rural and 4,657 urban. Of the rural local governments, 632 are zila parishad at the district level, 6,672 are panchayat samaiti at the block level, and 255,466 are gram panchayat at the village level. Following the 2013 Local election 37.1% of councillors were women, and in 2015/16 local government expenditure was 16.3% of total government expenditure. The result was intended to create greater participation in local government by people and more effective implementation of rural development programs. Although, as of 2015, implementation in all of India is not complete the intention is for there to be a gram panchayat for each village or group of villages, a tehsil level council, and a zilla panchayat at the district level.
Rural Local Governments (or Panchayat Raj Institutions) 
In 1957, Balwant Rai Mehta Committee studied the Community Development Projects and the National Extension Service and assessed the extent to which the movement had succeeded in utilising local initiatives and in creating institutions to ensure continuity in the process of improving economic and social conditions in rural areas. The Committee held that community development would only be deep and enduring when the community was involved in the planning, decision-making and implementation process. The suggestions were for as follows:-
The PRI structure did not develop the requisite democratic momentum and failed to cater to the needs of rural development. There are various reasons for such an outcome which include political and bureaucratic resistance at the state level to share power and resources with local level institutions, domination of local elites over the major share of the benefits of welfare schemes, lack of capability at the local level and lack of political will.
It was decided to appoint a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Ashok Mehta to examine and suggest measures to strengthen PRIs. The Committee had to evolve an effective decentralised system of development for PRIs. They made the following recommendations:-
that much of the developmental functions at the district level would be played by the panchayats.
The states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal passed new legislation based on this report. However, the flux in politics at the state level did not allow these institutions to develop their own political dynamics.
The G.V.K. Rao Committee was appointed by Planning Commission to once again look at various aspects of PRIs. The Committee was of the opinion that a total view of rural development must be taken in which PRIs must play a central role in handling people's problems. It recommended the following:-
A committee led by Laxmi Mall Singhvi was constituted in the 1980s to recommend ways to revitalize PRIs. The Gram Sabha was considered as the base of a decentralised, and PRIs viewed as institutions of self-governance which would actually facilitate the participation of the people in the process of planning and development. It recommended:
The suggestion of giving panchayats constitutional status was opposed by the Sarkaria Commission, but the idea, however, gained momentum in the late 1980s especially because of the endorsement by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who introduced the 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill in 1989. The 64th Amendment Bill was prepared and introduced in the lower house of Parliament. But it got defeated in the Rajya Sabha as non-convincing. He lost the general elections too. In 1989, the National Front introduced the 74th Constitutional Amendment Bill, which could not become an Act because of the dissolution of the Ninth Lok Sabha. All these various suggestions and recommendations and means of strengthening PRIs were considered while formulating the new Constitutional Amendment Act.
The idea which produced the 73rd Amendment  was not a response to pressure from the grassroots, but to an increasing recognition that the institutional initiatives of the preceding decade had not delivered, that the extent of rural poverty was still much too large and thus the existing structure of government needed to be reformed. This idea evolved from the Centre and the state governments. It was a political drive to see PRIs as a solution to the governmental crises that India was experiencing. The Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, passed in 1992 by the Narasimha Rao government, came into force on April 24, 1993. It was meant to provide constitutional sanction to establish "democracy at the grassroots level as it is at the state level or national level". Its main features are as follows:
At present, there are about 3 million elected representatives at all levels of the panchayat, one-half[clarification needed] of which are women. These members represent more than 2.4 lakh (240,000) Gram Panchayats, about 6,000 intermediate level tiers and more than 500 district panchayats. Spread over the length and breadth of the country, the new panchayats cover about 96% of India's more than 5.8 lakh (580,000) villages and nearly 99.6% of the rural population. This is the largest experiment in decentralisation of governance in the history of humanity.
The Constitution of India visualises panchayats as institutions of self-governance. However, giving due consideration to the federal structure of India's polity, most of the financial powers and authorities to be endowed on panchayats have been left at the discretion of concerned state legislatures. Consequently, the powers and functions vested in PRIs vary from state to state. These provisions combine representative and direct democracy into a synergy and are expected to result in an extension and deepening of democracy in India. Hence, panchayats have journeyed from an institution within the culture of India to attain constitutional status.
'Urban Local Governments 
All municipal acts in India provide for functions, powers and responsibilities to be carried out by the municipal government. These are divided into two categories - obligatory or discretionary.
Some of the functions of the urban bodies overlap with the work of state agencies. The functions of the municipality, including those listed in the Twelfth Schedule are left to the discretion of the state government. Local bodies have to be bestowed with adequate powers, authority and responsibility to perform the functions entrusted to them by the Act. However, the Act has not provided them with any powers directly and has instead left it to state government discretion.
SIAEXT/EXTSAREGTOPPRISECDEV/EXTSAREGTOPDECENTRALIZATION/0,,contentMDK:20254773~isCURL:Y~menuPK:496908~pagePK:34004173~piPK:34003707~theSitePK:496900,00.html World Bank : Overview of rural decentralization]