Aspirational Districts Programme

April 16, 2018
9 months

Why in news?

  • NITI Aayog has recently launched the baseline ranking for 115 aspirational districts.
  • This is in line with the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) announced earlier by the Prime Minister.

What is ADP?

  • It aims to quickly and effectively transform some of India's most underdeveloped districts.
  • It will identify areas of immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • The broad ideas of the programme include -
  1. convergence of central and state schemes
  2. collaboration of central, state level ‘Prabhari’ (in-charge) officers and district collectors
  3. competition among districts
  • The states are the main drivers in the programme.
  • Deliberately, the districts have been described as aspirational rather than backward.
  • The motive is to view them as areas of opportunity and hope rather than of distress and hopelessness.

How were the districts selected?

  • The 115 districts were chosen by senior officials of the Union government.
  • This was in consultation with State officials on the basis of a composite index.
  • The parameters included are -
  1. deprivation enumerated under Socio-Economic Caste Census
  2. key health and education performance indicators
  3. state of basic infrastructure

What is the present ranking on?

  • The present ranking is based on 49 indicators across 5 sectors.
  • These sectors are areas that have been targeted for transformation -
  1. health and nutrition
  2. education
  3. agriculture and water resources
  4. financial inclusion and skill development
  5. basic infrastructure
  • A minimum of one district was chosen from every State.
  • Apparently, the largest concentration of districts is in the States which have historically under-performed.
  • This includes states such as UP and Bihar, or which are afflicted by left-wing extremism such as Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
  • The present ranking would be followed by delta ranking of these districts based on their "incremental progress".

How is progress monitored?

  • NITI Aayog in partnership with the government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard.
  • This is for monitoring the real-time progress of the districts.
  • District collectors of all the aspirational districts can input the latest available data of their respective districts.
  • The dashboard will also be open to the public.

What are the significant aspects of ADP?

  • Approach - This is the first time India’s most backward districts are being focussed.
  • ADP is a better vision of how public services are best delivered to those who need them the most.
  • Governance - Achieving success in this programme necessitates the contribution of all 3 tiers of government.
  • The role of states is important in terms of facilitating resource, personnel, etc.
  • On financial inclusion, the full cooperation of banks is necessary and only the Central government has leverage over them.
  • The most crucial is the role of District Magistrate or Collector.
  • As s/he is familiar with the challenges of his or her geography and has considerable power to implement government schemes.
  • Competitive federalism - The spirit of cooperation needs to be supplemented by a culture of competition.
  • ADP takes the principle of competitive federalism down to district administrations.
  • Civil society - ADP has opened its door to civil society and leveraged the tool of corporate social responsibility.
  • This will bring new ideas and fresh energy from non-government institutions, to join the “official” efforts.
  • Efficiency - Many schemes of the Centre have flexible spending components, permitting autonomy at local level.
  • But these are seldom used in practice due to controlling Central and State machineries.
  • Thus ADP focusses on not spending more but spending better.
  • There is no financial package or large allocation of funds in ADP.  
  • It only aims at leveraging the already existing resources of several government programmes, to use them more efficiently.
  • Smart data - Data collection is often delayed or lacking in quality in India, distorting the development policy efforts.
  • With real time data in ADP, those on the ground level can alter strategies after accurate feedback.
  • In a way, the ADP reorients how government does its business of delivering development.


Source: The Hindu, Economic Times


Quick Fact

Prabhari Officer

  • Each district has a prabhari (in-charge) officer -
  1. assigned from the Centre (of additional secretary or joint secretary rank)
  2. assigned from the State (of the rank of Secretary to State government)
  • A prabhari officer will work in cooperation with the district administration.
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