Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be visiting Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, on April 14, 2018. He will be visiting the Jangala Development Hub, situated in a panchayat that has emerged as a model panchayat, where he would be interacting with people, local ‘Champions of Change’ including officials of the district administration, who despite all odds and being at the epicenter of Left Wing Extremism have performed very well, especially post the launch of Aspirational District programme on January 5, 2018.
The Prime Minister would also launch Health and Wellness Centre component of the Ayushman Bharat Programe in this panchayat as part of the visit. With this, on April 14, from Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, the nation will take a historic leap: Creating a strong primary healthcare foundation reaching the very doorsteps of communities, leading the way for a robust health system.
It may be mentioned that the Ayushman Bharat has twin missions. First, creating a network of Health and Wellness Centres to deliver comprehensive primary healthcare close to the community, and second, providing insurance cover to 40 per cent of India’s population, that is most deprived, for secondary and tertiary care including for instance, hospitalization costs.
In many ways Bijapur represents a microcosm of aspirations of a youthful nation. Beset with Left Wing Extremism (LWE), the state faces myriad challenges. And yet, in short span of time, it has made spectacular progress in health, nutrition, education and creation of livelihood opportunities. Difficult places require innovative solutions. This District, which has ranked among the top 5 performing districts on the basis of percent change in key indicators, has taken series of innovative measures.
This has been achieved on the back of best practices such as the creation of a well- functioning hospital with doctors recruited on competitive salaries from different parts of the country by utilizing the flexibility provided under the National Health Mission, running of schools for naxal-affected children in portable cabins and various measures to improve livelihood opportunities. These measures amply demonstrate the spirit of cooperative federalism wherein if the Centre, State and District administration work as a team, rapid transformation for creation of a New India by 2022 is an achievable.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Bijapur gives wings to the aspirations of people in the remotest parts of India to become a rightful partner in India’s growth story.
Aspirational Districts: Transforming India, One District at a Time
The Aspirational District programme is an innovation in governance that covers about 15% of India’s population and is reflective of the priority of the Government to provide for the poorest of poor. It is a well-known fact that India is on a high growth trajectory. What was urgently needed however was the enhancement of the Human Development Index and the reduction in the significant inter-state and inter-district variations in development. For this to happen, the Prime Minister felt that the aspirational districts have to be transformed, and launched the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme in January 2018.
The programme hinges on expeditiously transforming 115 districts that were identified from 28 states, in a transparent manner. There are three core aspects that frame the structure of the programme- Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts. Driven primarily by the States and instituted for the States, this initiative focuses on the strength of each district, and identifies the attainable outcomes for immediate improvement, while measuring progress, and ranking the selected districts.
Operationally, the officers at the level of Additional Secretary have been nominated to become the ‘Central Prabhari Officers’ of each district, while States have appointed state-nodal and Prabhari officers. An Empowered Committee under the convenorship of the CEO of NITI Aayog, has been instituted to help in the convergence of various government schemes and streamlining of efforts. The districts were considered after consultation with State Officials using a composite index of key data sets. The Prabhari Officers provide feedback and recommendations basis their findings, and the Empowered Committee will then make necessary amendments on an ongoing basis based on the feedback.
To optimally utilize potential and ensure that the New India 2022 is a part of every individual’s vision especially in the rural areas, this initiative focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the rapidly growing economy. After several rounds of consultations, it was decided that the baseline ranking for the 115 aspirational districts is based on 49 indicators across five sectors that includes health and nutrition (30% weightage) through 13 indicators, education (30%) through 8 indicators, agriculture and water resources (20%) through 10 indicators, financial inclusion and skill development (10%) through 10 indicators, and basic infrastructure (10%) through 7 indicators.
The districts were selected through a transparent process, with the capacity of States kept in mind. 50 districts are allocated across 12 Ministries. 35 districts that are in the Left Wing Extremist areas are allocated to the Ministry of Home Affairs, and 30 districts have been allocated to NITI Aayog.
There will be a dynamic ranking of performance of districts. Objective & measurable indicators have been identified in focus sectors. These are going to be benchmarked with the best performing districts in India. Since the progress will be captured on a real time basis, a dashboard has been formulated that features a real-time monitoring mechanism. The key tangible outcomes will be as follows:
a) what is measured, is expected to improve rapidly across states
b) a co-operative competition among districts as a vital strategy
c) and eventually, this initiative is expected to help fine-tune Government programmes.
As of April 1, 2018 districts have started entering data. To help evaluate progress and the success of initiatives introduced by the Central Government in collaboration with the States, a delta ranking of these districts will be displayed every month from May 2018 on the dashboard based on the “incremental progress” to be monitored on a real-time basis.
With this initiative, India would emerge as a hub for experiment as globally, governments have been increasingly incorporating data to inform policies on a large scale. For example, the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare uses data from several agencies to manage welfare benefits and services provided by the government. Similarly, the Japanese government is leveraging data to help prevent and manage natural disasters. Yet, the use of data under India’s Aspirational Districts program is unique because of its scale and scope. No other developing country has undertaken a program that focuses on holistic development of a large share of its population.
This programme is non-partisan and completely unbiased. It is an all-India initiative meant to trigger uniform growth and development in every corner of the country. Simply put, it is a landmark unprecedented achievement for e-monitoring, governance and productive use of real-time data through a participatory method that involves everyone. Something like this has never before been attempted let alone achieved, and this is the first step in ensuring a national inclusive development strategy that is broad-based and ensures that no district is left behind.
Not merely as a name and shame module, this programme is essentially a competitive federalism and synergy-enhancing module that will eventually give every corner of India – rural or urban, a chance to exceed its own aspirations, and a platform to be heard and where required, helped. The initiative is supported by prestigious partners in programme implementation which provide ground level support, like the Tata Trust, Piramal Foundation, ITC, and L&T, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and IDInsight to conduct surveys. The partners will ably support the programme through leadership development, change management, technology integration and implementing various innovative practices.
NITI Aayog and all associated Ministries are working closely with the States towards a transparent, inclusive and accountable India. With a dedicated team committed to this project, this is an immersive initiative that will change the landscape of how India progresses through the vision of the Government of India.
NITI’s focus is to improve India in the Human Development Index ranking, raising the living standards of its citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all. Unless these districts are brought up to the parameters that each of us expects from our own lives, India will not be able to progress at the rapid pace that would otherwise be achieved from the Governments broad range of initiatives and development strategy. With this initiative much will be achieved towards uniform development. It is unquestionable that the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative envisioned by the Prime Minister is a giant leap towards transforming India for the New India 2022 vision.>