Launched by the Prime Minister in January 2018, the Aspirational Districts Programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts. The broad contours of the program are convergence (of Central & state schemes), collaboration (of Central, state-level ‘ Prabhari’ officers and district collectors), and competition among districts through monthly delta ranking; all driven by a mass movement.
The SDGs adopted by the global community in 2015 have become the guiding force for advancing the socio-economic development of people and the ecological surveillance of our planet. Countries have renewed their commitment to addressing the 17 goals outlined in the SDGs and developed plans to meet them on time. The Sustainable Development Goals offer significant improvements to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The SDG framework addresses key systemic barriers to sustainable development, such as inequality, unsustainable consumption patterns, weak institutional capacity, and environmental degradation, that were not articulated in MDGs.
With states as the main drivers, this program focuses on the strength of each district, identifying low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement and measuring progress by ranking districts every month. The ranking is based on the incremental progress made across 49 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) under five broad socio-economic themes – Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Infrastructure. The delta-ranking of Aspirational Districts and the performance of all districts are available on the Champions of Change dashboard.
The Government is committed to raising the living standards of its citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all – ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas Aur Sabka Prayas’. To enable the utilization of their potential, this program closely focuses on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy.
Districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch up with the best district within their state. Subsequently, they aspire to become one of the best in the country by competing with and learning from others in the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism.
Niti Aayog works closely with the respective line ministries and various development partners to fast-track progress at the district level. Various programs such as – Saksham Bitiyan Abhiyan, Anemia Mukt Bharat, and Surakshit Hum Surakshit Tum, are some of the flagship initiatives that Niti Aayog has taken up in this regard. The districts are also encouraged to develop and replicate best practices that drive improvement across the socio-economic themes.
Another focus of the program is to further dive into the progress at the block level within each district. The districts are encouraged to monitor the progress of the blocks that lead to the district’s overall improvement.
The Aspirational Districts Programme essentially aims to localize Sustainable Development Goals, leading to the nation’s progress. The Indian economy is on a high growth trajectory. Its performance in improving the quality of life for its citizen is not consistent with its growth story. While different states have their unique strengths, they face challenges in improving health, education, basic infrastructure, etc., for their citizens. Within states, too, there are significant variations. Some districts have done well, whereas some have faced challenges.
This program is for the overall transformation of the district using a mass movement approach. To keep the method focused, the program seeks to focus on the priority sectors as these are important for all districts, such as Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture, and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, Basic Infrastructure including access to road, potable water, rural electrification, and individual household toilets.
A concerted effort must be made to improve the performance of districts that are pockets of underdevelopment. This will result in a dramatic rise in the country’s ranking in terms of DI and help the Government achieve SDGs. Every gram panchayat and district has to safeguard the principles of SDGs; only then can the state achieve the desired status and motto of `Leaving No One Behind, Reaching the Furthest First’ without compromising on the environment. The State has already begun integrating SDGs into Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP). This will be a step toward the creation of a New India.