ADP to be extended to block, city level: PM
GS Paper- 2, Govt Policies and Interventions, Governance.
- The Hon’ble Prime Minister launched the Aspirational Districts plan in January 2018, with the goal of rapidly and successfully transforming 112 of the country’s most underdeveloped districts.
- Aspirational districts should be designated as “inspirational districts” in India, and the Aspirational District Programme (ADP) should be expanded to the block and city levels, according to the Prime Minister.
Aspirational Districts’ Programme:
- Aspirational districts are those in India that suffer from low socioeconomic indices.
- In the context, they are aspirational in the sense that progress in these districts can lead to broader improvements in human development in India.
- The programme is supported by NITI Aayog at the level of the Government of India. Furthermore, particular Ministries have taken on responsibility for driving district success.
- The program’s goal is to track the progress of aspirational districts in real time.
The basic features of the scheme:
- Convergence (of Central & State Schemes),
- Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and
- Competition among districts by monthly delta ranking are, all pushed by a public movement.
- With the states serving as the primary drivers, this initiative focuses on the strengths of each district, finding low-hanging fruit for quick development and monitoring success by rating districts on a monthly basis.
- The ranking is based on incremental improvement in 49 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) spanning five main socioeconomic themes:
- Health And Nutrition,
- Agriculture and Water Resources,
- Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and
The Champions of Change Dashboard displays the delta-ranking of Aspirational Districts as well as the performance of all districts.
- The government is dedicated to improving people’ living conditions and fostering inclusive progress for all — “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas.”
- This initiative focuses on strengthening people’s capacity to engage fully in the expanding economy in order to allow them to maximise their potential. Districts are urged and encouraged to first catch up with the best district in their state, and then strive to be among the best in the country by competing with and learning from others in the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism.
- This Aspirational Districts Programme Appraisal aims to assess the effectiveness of the Government of India’s flagship programme and generate evidence-based documentation that can be used to support NITI Aayog and other stakeholders in their efforts to address existing gaps, evidence-based planning, and decision making.
- The 2030 Agenda can only be realised with collaboration and dedication at all levels of government, as well as the numerous partners and stakeholders engaged. Subnational and local governments play a critical role in localising global goals, interpreting and delivering them as integrated programmes and services that improve people’s lives. This is where the largest influence will be felt.
- Better governance through convergence: Of the three approaches of Convergence, Competition, and Collaboration, most stakeholders interviewed cited Convergence as a critical way for improving district performance. The stakeholders emphasised the need of convergence in moving away from working in silos and toward synchronised planning and governance in order to meet the program’s objectives.
- Accelerating growth through competitive federalism: The competition part of the 3Cs was also considered as a useful technique in fostering improved monitoring and establishing healthy competition to meet programme aims. This has also worked as a motivator for districts to step up their efforts and track their success.
- Collaboration: While this feature of ADP has helped assure systematic and targeted efforts across many groups, it may be emphasised more. This might be especially useful as an alternate approach to address some technical competence shortages that districts experience.
- Top-level political leadership commitment: The commitment displayed by the country’s senior political leadership to bring about speedy growth in underdeveloped regions in India is a notable element of the programme that has considerably contributed to its success.
- What gets assessed gets done: In addition to the 3Cs strategy, the study discovered that the ADP’s emphasis on continuous real-time monitoring and data-driven decision-making has been a significant contribution to improved governance. This has aided district administrations in recognising a district’s strengths and shortcomings, leading in more planned and informed approaches to growth.
- Capacity building: While the ADP has increased the technical and administrative capacities of the districts, interviews with many stakeholders revealed a need to focus even more on this area. Other ideas include providing skill training for officials and employees, increasing hiring flexibility, and increasing incentives for boosting recruiting in these areas.
Districts with High Aspirations vs Districts with Low Aspirations:
- One of the primary benefits of the ADP is that it has provided attention to districts that would otherwise be ignored owing to poor performance. This feature has benefited most districts in obtaining the necessary support for their districts.
- A crucial aspect that distinguishes the ADP from other development programmes is the clear and complete framework it gives to the districts. This framework has effectively guided districts in focusing their efforts on meeting the program’s objectives. In truth, the framework is an effective technique of ensuring that efforts are aligned with the country’s larger aims and are not arbitrary in nature.
Criteria for Evaluation:
Aspirational District Program Related Difficulties:
- Aspirational District Program is impacted by the issue of low fiscal resources.
- Aspirational District Program is implemented by several ministries, resulting in a lack of coordination.
- Data- High-quality administrative data is crucial for enhancing local programme implementation and planning.
- The Delta rating itself is mostly concerned with quantity (access coverage) rather than quality.
-On-time textbook delivery in schools is included in the ranking index; nevertheless, textbook delivery may or may not be an issue in districts.
-Furthermore, as indicated by the ASER study, the quality of education in India is dismal.
Countering the Existing Gaps and Challenges:
The programme was started with the goal of lowering inter- and intra-state inequities, and it is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.
The distinctive aspects of introducing competition, handholding assistance from the centre and state, and collaboration with many agencies are proven effective in realising the objective of holistic development.
- Disparities between sectors: While the Aspirational Districts initiative has helped strengthen critical sectors such as healthcare and education, those with a lower weightage require more attention and improvement. Sector and emphasis adjustment is thus necessary.
Solution- To address these difficulties, districts might be further grouped together and supported based on their shared qualities.
- Disparities in data and the negative impacts of competition: The start of ADP brought with it a number monitoring and data gathering issues, one of which is the disparity in data gathered and documented.
Solution- There’s a need for revised indicators, as well as a reduced emphasis on a competitive approach, as these are likely to result in data misreporting by districts. Aside from that, other training and learning programmes are required.
- Shortage of human resources: Regardless of performance, one of the key challenges noted throughout districts has been a lack of human resources and technical capacities at the district and block levels.
Solution: There is a need for capacity building at the grassroots level. This can be addressed by assigning specialised employees to districts, such as Aspirational District Fellows or programme representatives. This would increase accountability and ownership.
- Addition of sectors or themes: A beneficial proposal from the program’s Aspirational District Fellows (ADFs) was to incorporate new sectors or themes focused on major environmental and gender issues.
Solution- This should not only be targeted for programme recipients, but also integrated into the governance model as indicators of inclusive and sustainable progress.
- Potential for collaboration: Given the variations in sectors, districts, and capacities, expanding collaboration with other organisations may offer districts with the urgent and necessary help. This is especially important for districts situated in distant and difficult places.
Aspirational District Program’s Influence:
- Decentralization of Development: Because ADP focuses on outcomes, it allows for local experimentation based on a strong understanding of ground realities.
- Inclusive approach: The Aspirational Districts’ delta ranking blends innovative data usage with pragmatic management, placing the district at the forefront of inclusive growth.
Through ADP, the government aims to help districts that have made less progress in reaching important socioeconomic goals.
- Improved Execution: Driven by outcome-based competition, local governments focus their efforts and enhance programme implementation and design.
For example, health outcomes in ADP witnessed a rise in pregnant women enrolling with the health system, institutional delivery of new-borns, and anti-diarrheal medication, among other things.
The Way Forward:
- A more simpler ranking index, with fewer but carefully chosen production and outcome criteria, is required to more clearly communicate national development goals.
- Local governments should be given financial liberty.
- Independent surveys may be used to evaluate administrative data, which will aid in data quality improvement.
- Building each district’s internal ability to create accurate and meaningful data, as well as encouraging a data-use culture, can be prioritised by the ADP.