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Sansad TV: Committee Report- Aspirational Districts Programme




The Aspirational Districts Programme:

  • Launched in January 2018, the Aspirational Districts programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts across the country.
  • The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts through monthly delta ranking; all driven by a mass movement.
  • 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 on a monthly basis.
  • The ranking is based on the incremental progress made across 49 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) under 5 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 is 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 aur Sabka Vishwas”.
  • To enable 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, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others in the spirit of competitive & cooperative federalism.
  • NITI Aayog works closely with the respective line Ministries and various development partners to fast-track progress at the district level. Various programmes such as – Saksham Bitiyan Abhiyan, Anemia Mukt Bharat and Surakshit Hum Surakshit Tum, are some of the flagship initiatives that have been taken up by NITI Aayog in this regard. T
  • he districts are also encouraged to develop and replicate best practices that drive improvement across the socio-economic themes.
  • Another focus of the programme 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 overall improvement of the district.
  • The Aspirational Districts Programme essentially is aimed at localizing Sustainable Development Goals, leading to the progress of the nation.

Significance and role in overall development at grassroots level

  • Health outcomes in the mentored districts reveal significant improvements between the first and second third-party household surveys (in June-August 2018 and January-March 2019).
  • There were increases in registering pregnant women into the health system (from 73 per cent to 86 per cent), institutional delivery of babies (66 per cent to 74 per cent), and anti-diarrheal treatment via ORS (51 per cent to 67 per cent) and zinc (34 per cent to 53 per cent).
  • Decentralization of Development: ADP focuses on outcomes, that enables local experimentation based on a firm appreciation of ground realities.
  • Inclusive approach: The delta ranking of the Aspirational Districts combines the innovative use of data with pragmatic administration, keeping the district at the locus of inclusive development.
    • Through ADP government seeks to uplift those districts which have shown relatively lesser progress in achieving key social outcomes.
  • Districts affected my militancy and left-wing extremism are given focus and resources to uplift them through development which will have direct influence on stability and peace.
  • Collaborative approach: To facilitate the convergence of ideas and funds, the ADP operates on a three-tier collaborative model.
    • For each ‘aspirational district’, there is a Central Prabhari Officer as well as a State Prabhari Officer.
    • These two, along with the district administration, work with a host of development partners on various development parameters.
  • Evidence-based policy: 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.


The ADP’s genesis was inspired from the policy experiments of state governments and is now in turn becoming a model for them to replicate back at the block or gram panchayat level. It is proving to be a shining example of cooperative-competitive federalism.