aspirational district: 213 districts, 500 blocks identified to scale up Aspirational District model – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/213-districts-500-blocks-identified-to-scale-up-aspirational-district-model/articleshow/92582245.cms

Synopsis

The Union government has been preparing since January when it asked all central ministries to identify ‘low performing districts’. An inter-ministerial committee was set up to extend the exercise down to the block level and 500 of these have been identified for the scale up.

The Centre has identified 213 ‘low performing districts’ and 500 ‘backward blocks’ to scale up the aspirational district model (ADM). It made a strong pitch with states for the same at a recent meeting of chief secretaries.

ET gathers that the June 15-17 meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister at Dharamsala, saw Niti Aayog make a strong pitch to expand the ambit of the aspirational districts programme to improve key social indicators in backward areas. It red flagged challenges to the mission such as frequent transfers of district officials and huge vacancies.

While the programme was launched in 112 districts across 26 states and a Union Territory in 2018, the Centre has now identified double the number of districts and gone down to the block level. The prime minister, in fact, set the tone at the meeting asking for the posting of the best young officers to aspirational districts and asking states to extend the programme to block and city levels.

The Union government has been preparing since January when it asked all central ministries to identify ‘low performing districts’. An inter-ministerial committee was set up to extend the exercise down to the block level and 500 of these have been identified for the scale up.

Fifteen ministries – from health, education, skill development, rural development & agriculture to telecom, MEITY and financial services – identified 213 ‘low performing’ districts. Of these, 163 districts are said to be ‘unique’ given their specific constraints.

The district-wise identification is sectoral in nature. While the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has identified 30 such districts, Department of North-East has identified 34 of them and jal shakti ministry identified another 20 that were deficient on certain key parameters. The education, skill development, rural development, agriculture, tribal affairs and women & child development ministries have shortlisted ten districts each.

The findings were shared by Niti Aayog at the meeting with chief secretaries which proposed to scale up the ‘aspirational districts model of data based governance and ranking’ to all districts and blocks. While health, nutrition and education would be the ‘Key Performance Indicators’, states have been asked to add on any other relevant criteria as well.

Niti Aayog has circulated a handbook to state governments on replicating the ADP template for improving under-developed blocks. The Centre also proposes to rank the performance of blocks every quarter.

The Aayog also red-flagged challenges – the short tenure of officers and severe shortage of staff in district teams across departments of health, education and agriculture among others.

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