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Aspirational Districts Programme

Updated on :  

08 min read.

The government launched the Aspirational Districts Programme in January 2018. It aims to effectively and quickly transform 112 most under-developed districts across India. The senior officials of the Union Government choose the districts in consultation with state officials.

The programme was launched with a vision of a New India by 2022, focusing on improving India’s ranking under the Human Development Index (HDI), ensuring inclusive growth for all and raising the living standards of the citizens.

Aspirational Districts are those districts affected by poor socio-economic indicators across the country. The improvement in these aspirational districts can lead to an overall improvement in human development. NITI Aayog anchors this programme. Individual ministries have also assumed responsibility for driving the progress of aspirational districts under the programme.

Strategy of Aspirational Districts Programme

The contours of the Aspirational Districts Programme are as follows:

  • Convergence of the Central and State schemes.
  • Collaboration of the Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ officers and district collectors.
  • Competition amongst districts through monthly delta ranking driven by a mass movement.

Key Sectors of Aspirational Districts Programme

The Government of India is committed to raising its citizens’ living standards and ensuring inclusive growth for all through ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas’. The Aspirational Districts Programme is one such programme that focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate in the economy and ensure inclusive growth for all.

Aspirational Districts Programme aims to transform districts that need an extra push to achieve socio-economic outcomes under the following five identified thematic areas:

  • Health and nutrition.
  • Education.
  • Agriculture and water resources.
  • Financial inclusion and skill development.
  • Basic infrastructure.

Weightage of Areas Under Aspirational Districts Programme

The Aspirational Districts Programme monitors the real-time progress of the aspirational districts based on 49 indicators (81 data points) from the five identified thematic areas. The indicators for sector-wise rankings based on identified themes are as follows:

Health and nutrition

Health and nutrition have 30% of the overall weight allotted with 31 data points. It focuses on postnatal care, antenatal care, the health of new-born, gender parity, contagious diseases, growth of children, and health infrastructure.  

Education

The education sector has been allotted 30% of the overall index with 14 data points. It focuses on learning outcomes with transition rates from primary to upper primary, secondary schooling, average scores in languages and mathematics, etc. It also focuses on infrastructural indicators such as toilet access for girls, electricity supply and drinking water and institutional indicators, i.e. RTE mandated pupil-teacher ratio and timely delivery of textbooks.

Agriculture and water resources

Agriculture is the backbone of India, with more than 50% of the workforce engaged in cultivation and allied activities. Agriculture has been allotted 20% weight with 12 data points. The focus is on outputs (price realisation, yield, etc.), inputs (soil health cards, quality seed distribution, etc.), and institutional support (electronic markets, crop insurance, animal vaccination, artificial insemination, etc.).

Financial inclusion and skill development

The financial inclusion and skill development themes account for 10% of the overall index with 16 data points. It focuses on financial inclusion by measuring the progress of important central government schemes (Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, etc.), the reach of institutional banking (number of accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana), and ease of institutional financing for small businesses (disbursement of Mudra loans).

The skill development focuses on keeping track of the progress in employment, skilling of youth, and the skilling of vulnerable or marginalised youth under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).

Basic infrastructure 

The basic infrastructure has been allotted 10% of the overall index with 8 data points. It focuses on housing for all with electricity, water, road connectivity and availability of individual household latrines. The districts are also tracked regarding internet-connected Gram Panchayats and panchayats with Common Service Centres (CSC).

Implementation of Aspirational Districts Programme

  • The Aspirational Districts Programme is a collective effort where the states are the main drivers.
  • At the Central level, the programme is anchored by NITI Aayog.
  • A central ‘Prabhari’ officer of the rank of Joint Secretary or Additional Secretary is nominated for each district.
  • An empowered committee under the convenership of the CEO of NITI Aayog has been notified to ensure convergence in government schemes and address the specific issues brought out by Prabhari officers.
  • States are requested to form a committee under the Chief Secretary to implement the programme.
  • States have also nominated nodal officers and state-level Prabhari officers to implement this programme.
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