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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 11 June, 2021

  • 18 Min Read

UNDP urges to replicate Aspirational Districts programme of India

UNDP urges to replicate Aspirational Districts programme of India

  • Aspirational Districts are those districts in India, that are affected by poor socio-economic indicators.
  • It has a vision of Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas. It was launched in 2018.
  • The 117 districts were identified from 28 states, at least one from each state.
  • At the Government of India level, the programme is anchored by NITI Aayog. In addition, individual Ministries have assumed responsibility to drive the progress of districts.
  • The objective of the program is to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts.
  • ADP is based on 49 indicators from the 5 identified thematic areas, which focuses closely on improving people’s Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure.
  • With States as the main drivers, ADP seeks to focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • The broad contours of the programme are:
  1. Convergence (of Central & State Schemes) which brings together the horizontal and vertical tiers of the government.
  2. Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors) which enables impactful partnerships between government, market and civil society.
  3. Competition among districts driven by a spirit of the mass movement, it fosters accountability on district governments.
  • The Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) is one of the largest experiments on outcomes-focused governance in the world.
  • It focuses on becoming the best district in the State and then the best in the country.
  • It includes District Action Plans and convergence of Central State efforts.
  • Champions of Change is the Aspirational Dist Dashboard for real time data and ranking.

What is the news?

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India has lauded the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) as ‘a very successful model of local area development’that ‘should serve as a best practice for several other countries where regional disparities in development status persist for many reasons’.
  • The report said due to concerted efforts made under the ADP, previously neglected districts, including those in remote locations and those affected by Left Wing Extremism, ‘have experienced more growth and development in the last three years than ever before’. Notwithstanding some speedbumps in its journey, the APD ‘has been immensely successful in propelling development among the backward districts’.
  • UNDP’s analysis across the 5 key sectors of the ADP—health and nutrition; education; agriculture and water resources; basic infrastructure; and skill development and financial inclusion—found that the programme has acted as a catalyst for expediting development in these districts.
  • A comparison between the Aspirational Districts and their counterparts found that ADs have outperformed non-ADs.
  • Across the sectors of health and nutrition and financial inclusion, the report found that 9.6% more home deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant; 5.8% more pregnant women with severe anemia are treated; 4.8% more children diagnosed with diarrhoea are treated; 4.5% more pregnant women register for antenatal care within their first trimester; 406 and 847 more enrolments, and 1580 more accounts openedper 1 lakh population under the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantra Suraksha Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, respectively.
  • UNDP also recommends the ‘Malaria Mukt Bastar Abhiyaan’ in Bijapur and Dantewada, which has reduced malaria incidences in these districts by 71% and 54%, respectively, as one of the ‘best practices’ found in Aspirational Districts.
  • The report also appreciated the delta rankings provided on the programme’s Champions of Change dashboard.
  • The competitive and dynamic culture fostered by it has successfully pushed several low performing districts (as per baseline rankings) to improve their standing in the past three years. Simdega (Jharkhand), Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh), Sonbhadra (Uttar Pradesh) and Rajgarh (Madhya Pradesh) were found to have progressed the most since the beginning of the programme.
  • The report recommends several initiatives undertaken under the programme as best practices. Noteworthy among them is GoalMart, an e-commerce portal launched by Assam’s Goalpara district administration ‘to promote rural, ethnic and agrarian products of the district in the national and global markets’. The initiative has been particularly helpful duringthe Covid-19 lockdown as it released farmers and retailers from the clutches of brick-and-mortar shops. Goalpara’s black rice is a favorite on this portal—and it has also proven to be highly profitable to the farmers.Similarly, Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli district decided to experiment with the cultivation of black rice, due to its high demand in global markets and good profit margins. The project was a success and high-quality black rice is now being exported to Australia and New Zealand.
  • As regards challenges and suggestions, the report said some stakeholders highlighted the need to revise a few indicators that are close to being saturated or met by most districts, such as ‘electrification of households’ as an indicator of basic infrastructure. It was also found that while on average, the districts have seen an increase in resilience and decrease in vulnerabilities, the least-improved districts have witnessed an increase in vulnerabilities, which requires a special focus on the sectors in which these districts have underperformed.
  • The report said ADP is ‘aligned to the principle of “leave no one behind”—the vital core of the SDGs. Political commitment at the highest level has resulted in rapid success of the programme’.

Conclusion

Overall, the report has appreciated the positive impact of the programme and stressed on the need to ensure ‘the focus on development is encouraged further, and momentum gained so far in expediting growth is maintained. Based on the findings of the evaluation, it is recommended that the success of the programme be scaled up and replicated for other sectors and districts’.

Source: PIB


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