Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme
‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform the backward districts. 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 driven by a mass Movement.
The programme brings a radical shift in governance
- The exercise envisages a serious re-imagination of government and governance, and deepens cooperative federalism. The programme is informed by the failures of the past and therefore has a more contemporary vision of how public services are best delivered to those who need them most.
- The 115 districts were chosen by senior officials of the Union government in consultation with State officials on the basis of a composite index of the following: deprivation enumerated under the Socio-Economic Caste Census, key health and education performance indicators and the state of basic infrastructure.
- The districts have been described as aspirational rather than backward so that they are viewed as islands of opportunity and hope rather than areas of distress and hopelessness. Attitudes and narrative matter for outcomes.
- There is no financial package or large allocation of funds to this programme. The intent is to leverage the resources of the several government programmes that already exist but are not always used efficiently. The government doesn’t always need to spend more to achieve outcomes but instead to spend better.
- The spirit of cooperation needs to be supplemented by a culture of competition. This programme takes the principle of competitive federalism down to district administrations. Each district will be ranked on the focus areas which are disaggregated into easily quantifiable target areas. Thus inculcating a competitive spirit.
- The programme opens its door to civil society and leverages the tool of corporate social responsibility to form partnerships which will bring new ideas and fresh energy with boots on the ground from non-government institutions to join the “official” efforts. The force multiplier on outcomes from such participation is potentially massive.
Aspirational district programme is a big pilot programme from reorienting how government does its business of delivering development. A decisive shift in the paradigm of governance is likely to finally fulfil the many broken promises of the past. [The Hindu]