The Aspirational District Scheme was launched by the Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in January 2018. The Niti Ayog works very closely on this scheme along with various development partners to fast-track the progress at the district level. The districts are also encouraged to replicate and develop the best practices to drive improvement across the socio-economic themes.
It was started on the fact that India is amongst the leading economies in the world that aims at becoming a $5 trillion economy by the year 2025. The present condition of the country is such that the quality of life of a major percentage of the citizens is inconsistent with their growth stories that are reflected in the UNDP 2018 Human Development Index where India ranked 130. This low ranking is due to the various inter-state and pan-district conflicts and variations. To fight this very issue, the ADP was launched.
A breakdown of the Scheme
- The States are the main drivers of the Scheme and ADP will aim to focus on each district’s strength, clearly pointing out the low-performing areas for quick improvement, progress measure, and rank the districts.
- Aspirational Districts can be classified as those which are severely affected due to poor socio-economic conditions.
- 115 such districts along with 28 states were identified.
- The main objective is described as monitoring the real-time development of these aspirational districts.
- ADP will be based on 49 indicators comprising 5 identified areas of Health and Nutrition, Agriculture and Water Resources, Basic Infrastructure, Education and Financial Inclusion, and Skill Development.
The main ideas that the Scheme focuses on are:
- Competition-driven accountability of district governments which stands for the spirit of mass movement
- Convergence between the Center and the State sums up the various verticals of each government.
- Collaboration of the Center, the State, and the District collectors that enhances government, market, and civil society partnerships.
Expected results of the ADP
- Better Implementation
Driven by competition amongst states and the districts based on outcomes, the governing bodies target their efforts and better their implementation of the design. To support this, the Health outcomes in ADP showed a higher registry of pregnant women into the health system.
- Decentralized Development
Due to the main focus on outcomes, local experimentation is made easy through the realization of ground realities.
- Inclusive Approach
Through the ADP, the government looks to encourage those districts which have shown comparatively lesser progress to achieve key social outcomes. The high ranking of the Aspirational Districts teams up data usage and administration that keep the district at the center of development.
Difficulties faced by ADP
- High-quality data is vitally important to improve program implementation and design which might be difficult to acquire.
- Insufficient budget and funding are a severe challenge for the ADP.
- The ADP is implemented and the responsibility of several ministries that leads to confusion and difficulty in implementation.
Primary evidence strongly suggests that ADP has essentially contributed to the improvement of lakhs of lives. It has helped in the development of each district’s internal capacity to produce reliable data and promoted data use that has always been a priority.