Apr 22, 2024
SOLART Discussion Series
SOLART Discussion Series

Paper Presenter: Bishnu Prasad Mohapatra, Ph.D, Department of Political Science

Topic: Empowering Local Governments: Role of Union Finance Commissions in Supplementing Resources after Three Decades of Democratic Decentralisation.

Session Chair/Discussant: Dr. Samuel Kuruvilla, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, MIT-WPU.

Introduction: Prof(Dr) Rupakjyoti Borah, Dean, School of Liberal Arts welcomed the participants and highlighted the objectives behind organising the discussion series.

Prof. Murthy Chavalli, Dean of Research and Development presented a few lines about research programmes at MIT-WPU. He also appreciated the initiative of organising such a discussion series.

Paper Presentation:

Dr. Bishnu Prasad Mohapatra, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, presented his research titled “Empowering Local Governments: Role of Union Finance Commissions in Supplementing Resources after Three Decades of Democratic Decentralisation.” The presentation, lasting 30 minutes, focused on the support provided by the Union Finance Commission (UFC) to local governments in India, anchored in the amendments introduced by the Acts of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments of 1992. These reforms are codified under Article 280(3)(bb) and (c) of the Indian Constitution, which mandate the UFC to strengthen the financial position of the Panchayats and Municipalities.

Key Insights from the Paper:

Evaluation of Allocation Criteria: The reliance on population and area for fund allocation, while significant, overlooks the variations in development and service delivery across states. This necessitates a revaluation to ensure equitable resource distribution.

Grant Conditions: The grant conditions should be realigned to closely match the actual needs of Local Government Institutions (LGIs) within the constitutional framework established by the aforementioned constitutional amendments.

Comprehensive Assessments: The paper advocates for thorough assessments of basic service levels to adjust fund allocations more accurately.

Performance Assessment of States: The effectiveness of State Finance Commissions (SFCs) and their progress in devolving funds should be criteria for evaluating state performance.

Focusing on Marginalized Areas: Emphasizing financial support to local governments in less developed areas is critical for reducing disparities.

Discussion and Interaction:

The following key questions were raised during the open discussion and Q&A session:

  • Regional Differences: Mr. Chaitanya Gite inquired about the observed fiscal decline in Kerala versus an increase in Uttar Pradesh, highlighting the need for tailored fiscal policies.
  • Research Methodology: Dr. Shreya questioned the reliance on secondary sources, probing the qualitative nature of the analysis.
  • Scope of Study: Dr. Rahul asked whether the research encompassed all Indian states or focused on specific examples.


Dr. Samuel Kuruvilla, the session chair, addressed additional concerns specific to Kerala's fiscal management, effectively concluding the discussion. A vote of thanks from the Dean of the School marked the end of this insightful and productive session, which shed light on the intricate dynamics of fiscal decentralisation and local governance enhancement through the strategic use of UFC transfers.

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