The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ Programme

Launched in : January 2018.
Background : ·        India is on a high growth trajectory that is expected to lift millions out of poverty.

·        However, presently the quality of life of many of its citizens is not improving with this growth story.

·        In UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Index India has been ranked 131 out of 188 countries.

·        There is high heterogeneity in the living standards in India. In other words, there is a huge inter-state and inter-district variation in terms of living standards.

Solution : ·     Uplifting the districts which have shown relatively lesser progress in achieving key social outcome like health or education.
Main objectives : ·        The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ aims to remove this heterogeneity among the districts , through a mass movement to transform these districts.

·        To raise the living standards of its citizens and ensuring inclusive growth for all – “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”.

·        The program will improve the people’s ability to participate fully in the vibrant economy.

How to achieve it (strategies): ·        Convergence (of Central & State Schemes),

·        Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors),

·        Competition (among districts driven by a spirit of mass Movement.)

·        States as the main drivers of the program.

·        States will focus on developing strength of each district, measure the progress, and rank the districts.

Targeted districts. ·        115 districts were identified from 28 states.

·        At least one district from each state, in a transparent manner.

·        The districts are selected by a committee of Senior Officers to the Government of India, in consultation with State Officials.

·        A composite index has been used which included : Deprivation as enumerated under the Socio-Economic Caste Census, health and education sector performance and state of basic infrastructure.

Bodies involved in the implementation of the program: ·        NITI Aayog is an anchors body to implement this programme.

·        NITI Aayog is steering the initiative in 30 districts.

·        Various central ministries oversee 50 districts. And

·        The Ministry of Home Affairs, which focuses on 35 Left Wing Extremism (LWE), affected districts.

·        Officers at the level of Joint Secretary / Additional Secretary have been nominated to become the ‘Central Prabhari (officer in charge) Officers’ of each district.

·        States have appointed state-nodal and Prabhari officers.

·        An Empowered Committee under the CEO, NITI Aayog will help in the convergence of efforts.

Focus areas to be improved. 1.     Health & Nutrition,

2.     Education,

3.     Agriculture  

4.     Water Resources,

5.     Financial Inclusion.

6.     Skill Development.

7.     Basic Infrastructure.

Why it has been named as Aspirational District programme? ·        49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of each target district.

·        Each targeted District will aspire to first catch-up with the best district within their State, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country.

·        The district will compete with one another but will also learn from others in the spirit of competitive & cooperative federalism.

·        So targeted district will aspire to be the best across the nation.

Monitoring of the program. ·        Monitoring will be real time.

·        NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard (kind of software) for monitoring the real-time progress of the districts.

Sectors; weightage; and indicators on which districts will be monitored. 1.     HEALTH & NUTRITION (30%).

It will be calculated on following indicators :

a)     antenatal care,

b)    postnatal care,

c)     gender parity,

d)    health of new-borns,

e)     growth of children,

f)      contagious diseases, and

g)     Health infrastructure.

2.     EDUCATION (30%)

a)     learning outcomes (transition rate from primary to upper primary, and subsequently to secondary schooling, average scores in mathematics and language etc.).

b)    Infrastructural(toilet access for girls, drinking water, electricity supply) and

c)     Institutional indicators (RTE mandated pil-teacher ratio, timely delivery of textbooks).


(a)  Outputs (yield, price realization etc.),

(b) Inputs (quality seed distribution, soil health cards),

(c)  Institutional support (crop insurance, electronic markets, artificial insemination, animal vaccination etc.)


(a)  Availability of individual household latrines,

(b) drinking water,

(c)  electricity, and

(d) road connectivity.

(e)  Number of internet connected Gram Panchayats, and

(f)   Panchayats with Common Service



(a)  progress in take-up of important central government schemes (Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana etc.),

(b) Reach of institutional banking (number of accounts opened under Jan Dhan Yojana), and

(c)  Ease of institutional financing

for small businesses (disbursement of Mudra loans).

(d) Indicators have been identified in skill development to keep track of the progress in skilling of youth, employment, and the skilling of vulnerable/marginalized youth.

About the author: Aman Kumar

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