The smaller subdivisions (villages and blocks) exist only in rural areas. In urban areas Urban Local Bodies exist instead of these rural subdivisions.
In the context of the Indian Constitution, local government bodies are the subject of the State List and are thereby governed by State Statutes, or in the case of Union Territories, by the Union Parliament. Federal recognition of local government was substantively expressed in the 74th Constitution Amendment Act of 1992.
The States have been grouped into five zones having an Advisory Council 'to develop the habit of cooperative working” among these States. Five Zonal Councils were set up vide Part-III of the States Re-organisation Act, 1956. The present composition of each of these Zonal Councils is as under:
The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh;
The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh;
The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand,Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal;
The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli; and
The Southern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
India is composed of 28 states and 7 union territories (including a national capital territory). The union territories are governed by administrators, appointed by the President of India. Two of the territories (Delhi and Puducherry) have been given partial statehood, with elected legislatures and executive councils of ministers, but limited powers.
Some of the states of India are divided into regions. The Regions of India are not official administrative divisions. They have no official administrative governmental status. They are purely geographic regions; some correspond to historic countries, states or provinces. A region may comprise one or more divisions, averaging about three divisions per region. However, the boundaries of the regions and the boundaries of the divisions do not always coincide exactly. So far there has been no movement to give the regions official administrative status. If this was to be done, it would presumably require that the boundaries of the regions be slightly modified so that they correspond exactly with their constituent districts.
States and territories (or divisions) are further subdivided into Districts (zilla), of which there are 640.
Tehsils, talukas, blocks or mandals (sub-districts), headed by a Tehsildar or Talukdar, comprise several villages or village clusters. The governmental bodies at the Tehsil level are called the panchayat samiti.
States use varying names for their sub-districts. Detailed information is as follows:
The block is often the next level of administrative division after the tehsil.
A hobli is a subdivision of a taluka which groups adjoining villages in the state of Karnataka. They may have been made for administrative purposes by the revenue department of the state.
Villages are often the lowest level of subdivisions in India. The governmental bodies at the village level are called Gram Panchayat, of which there were an estimated 256,000 in 2002. Each Gram Panchayat covers a large village or a cluster of smaller villages with a combined population exceeding 500 (Gram Group). Clusters of villages are also sometimes called Hobli.
Certain governmental functions and activities - including clean water availability, rural development, and education - are tracked at a sub-village level. These hamlets are termed "habitations". India is composed of approximately 1.6 million habitations. In some states, most villages have a single habitation; in others (notably Kerala and Tripura) there is a high ratio of habitations to villages.
Municipalities of India are governed by Municipal Corporations(Mahanagar Paalika) for large urban areas, Municipal Council(Nagar Paalika) for smaller urban areas, and Town Councils (Nagar Panchayats) for suburban areas. Municipalities can be as large as a district or smaller than a Tehsil.