In this article, we will talk about the Administrative Divisions of India and we will try to understand how governance architecture is divided in the Indian political System. As per Indian Constitution, India follows a federal political system where political powers are divided between the Union and the States.
Following Gandhian ideals, the power has been further decentralized to the local level through the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment acts, which results in Panchayat Raj and Municipal government respectively. The main purpose to decentralize power is to take democracy to the doorsteps of people and another reason for this was also that people should be integrated into the political structure of India.
Thus, decentralization helps in efficient and effective governance due to the participation of locals who understand their problems very well. Apart from this, due to the huge diversity in our country, apart from these divisions, there are many administrative Junits exits, which we will see further. Let’s start with the Administrative Divisions of India.
Background of the Administrative Divisions of India
Before understanding the Administrative Divisions of India we must know about the Political history of India. Before Independence, the territory of India was divided into two political units:
- British provinces: These were ruled directly by the British government.
- Princely states: These were governed by the respective princes but they were subject to the British Crown Paramountcy.
After independence, when the constitution was enforced on 26 January 1950, the Indian union was categorized into four parts:
- PART A: Contain Nine States that were the provinces of the British governor.
- Part B: Contain those states which had their legislature.
- Part C: Under the British Chief Commissioner.
- Part D: Contains Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
On the Recommendation of the Fazal Ali commission in 1953, the State Reorganization Act, of 1956 was enacted which abolished the four-fold categories of the state and brought in a new system of states and union territories. In addition to this, India was also divided into 6 Tiered Hierarchy for Administrative convenience:
- States and Union Territories
- Sub-division/ Tehsil
- Local Bodies
ZONES of India: Top-level Administrative Divisions of India
Zones are the top-level Administrative Divisions of India, following are the important points;
- Zones are the highest administrative division of India. Presently, India is divided into Six zones and the zones are administered by a body –Zonal Council.
- Zonal Councils are statutory bodies set up under the State Reorganisation Act, of 1956 and headed by the Union Home minister.
- The Vice-chairmanship of the councils is headed by the Chief Ministers of the respective States on a rotation basis.
- These are mainly advisory bodies, and their function was to ensure cooperation between the Centre, States, and Union Territories.
- North Eastern Council was set up in 1971 under the provisions of the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.
Also Read: Democracy in India
States and Union Territories of India
India has been divided into 28 states and 8 union territories(UTs). Earlier, several commissions had rejected the idea of reorganizing the state on linguistic lines, but the Fazli Ali Commission recommended the Reorganization of the states on a linguistic basis.
Part 6 of the Indian Constitution has provisions for the Governance of the states. Articles 153-167 under Part 6 are concerned with the state executives.
Composition of State Executives
- Governor: Governor is a nominal head executive authority of the entire state executive machinery.
- Chief Minister: Chief Minister is the real executive head authority of the state executive machinery.
- Council of Ministers (CoM): The Council of Ministers (CoM) functions under the authority of the Chief Minister. Under article 163, a council of ministers has been made who will aid and advise the governor.
- Advocate General of State: The States are represented in the courts by the respective Advocate General of the States.
- Article 168 to article 212 deal with the state legislature: The state legislature is not uniform throughout the country.
- Several states like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, etc. follow the unicameral system in which the legislature has only one house- Legislative Assembly.
- But 6 States- Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Karnataka follow a bicameral system in which the legislature is made of two houses- Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly.
- Under Articles 371 to 371 J special provisions have been made for 12 states. These are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim, Goa, and Karnataka.
Union Territories of India
- Union Territories are administered by the Central government. Article 239-241 of the Indian Constitution, deals with the administration of union territories.
- India has 8 Union Territories named Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Delhi, Puducherry, Daman & Diu Dadra-Nagar Haveli, Andaman Nicobar, Lakshadweep, and Ladakh.
- The president appoints Administrators and Lieutenant Governors who govern the union territories.
- For Union Territories, the parliament is competent to make laws on subjects of all three lists- Centre, State, and the Concurrent list.
Special provision for Delhi and Puducherry
- As per Article 239A and the Government of Union territories act 1963, Puducherry got special status. Article 239AA of the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act 1991, Delhi got special status.
- The lieutenant governor is an administrative head to whom the council of minister aid and advice.
- On July 4th, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the lieutenant governor to the president only those who are rarest. The court also ruled that the concurrence of the lieutenant governor is not required for every day-to-day matter.
- But parliament, most recently, enacted the NCT of Delhi(Amendment) Act, 2021 giving more powers to the Lieutenant Governor.
Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019
By passing the J&K reorganization act 2019, Jammu and Kashmir are divided into two parts -the UT of J&K with a legislative assembly and the UT of Ladakh without any legislative body.
Some states are divided into several administrative divisions. 17 of the total 28 states have created such a division. For example, Maharashtra has 6 divisions Amravati, Aurangabad, Konkan Nagpur, Nasik, and Pune.
These administrative divisions are headed by Divisional Commissioner rank IAS officer.
- Divisions are further subdivided into districts, and these are an accumulation of Tehsils.
- Districts are administered by the office of the District Magistrate which is often occupied by IAS officers.
- As of now, there are a total of 718 districts in India. The power to create a district lies under the state.
- Districts are further subdivided into Tehsils/ Talukas/ Circle, etc to be Administered by the Tehsildar.
- The function of the Tehsildar is related to revenue. Development functions like roads and hospitals come under local bodies.
Local Bodies: Bottom-level Administrative Divisions of India
Local-level administrative divisions of India are divided into two areas: Rural Areas & Urban Areas.
Administration of Panchayat Raj
Panchayat played a great role in the Administrative Divisions of India. The panchayat raj was formally established by enacting the 73rd constitutional amendment act 1992. Further, Part 9 and Schedule 11 were incorporated into the constitution through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act.
With this, 3 tier structure was established:
- Gram panchayat (Village level)
- Panchayat Samiti (Block level)
- Zila Parishad (District level)
There are a total of 29 subjects such as agriculture, minor irrigation, minor forest produce, small-scale industries, etc. enlisted under the 11th schedule which is under the purview of Panchayat.
Administration of Urban Local Bodies
Self-government was set in the urban areas through the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992. Further, the 74th constitutional amendment incorporated Part 9A and Schedule 12 in the constitution and also divided urban areas into three different categories:
- Nagar Panchayat: Has been set up for the administration of transition areas from Rural to Urban.
- Municipal Councils: Have been set up in order to govern smaller towns and cities whose population is more than 1 lakh.
- Municipal Corporations: Governs large cities whose population is greater than 10 lakh.
In Nagar Panchayat and Municipal Council, the President/ Chairman, Legislative head and Chief Executive Officer handle the day-to-day administration.
Administration of Scheduled & Tribal Areas
Schedule areas are covered according to the provisions of Schedule 5 while the “tribal areas” are governed under the provisions of Schedule 6. These groups are socio-economically backward.
Schedule 5: Presently applicable in 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Himachal Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Further, the president has the authority to declare any area as a scheduled area in consultation with the Governor. In addition, These scheduled areas are governed by Tribal Advisory Council.
Schedule 6: Provisions for the Governance of tribal areas of four North Eastern states- Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and, Mizoram. Further, the tribal areas of these six states have been constituted as Autonomous Districts and Regional Districts. The tribal areas are governed by Autonomous District Councils. Even though the Autonomous District Council can make laws on subjects like land, forest, shifting cultivation, etc. yet these laws will require the assent of the governor for legal validity.
So, this was all about the Administrative Divisions of India. If you like this article, please share it with your friends.