There are regional variations, cultural variations, ecological variations and economic variations in our country which are very much visible.The seeds of selecting the districts, developing them and monitoring their progress on a regular basis were the prerogative to achieve a higher rank in the Human Development Index. Our nation is very heterogenous in all the socio-cultural and economic aspects. Regional disparities in education, health and living standards within India—or inequality in human development—shave off 27% from India’s HDI score.
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 consistent with this growth story, a fact reflected in UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Index wherein we are ranked 131 out of 188countries.
A closer look at the data reveals high heterogeneity in the living standards in India.There are significant inter-state and inter-district variations. By uplifting the districts which have shown relatively lesser progress in achieving key social outcome, India can move ahead in the human development index. The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative aims to remove this heterogeneity through a mass movement to quickly and effectively transform these districts.
This will establish again on the lines of great federal relations between the Union and the state governments. With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank 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 spirit of mass Movement.
Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus. Districts are aspiring 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.
Selection of Districts
This is a narrative of the government of India that when we work on the backward districts, then only the disparity between the living standards can be addressed. The 115 districts were identified from 28 states, at least one from each state, in a transparent manner by a committee of Senior Officers to the Government of India, in consultation with State Officials using a composite index of key data sets that included deprivation enumerated under the Socio-Economic Caste Census, key health and education sector performance and state of basic infrastructure.
The objective of the program is to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts based on 49 indicators (81 data-points) from the 5 identified thematic areas. With the latest available data from the ministries concerned, NITI Aayog has completed a baseline ranking of 101 districts. Data was normalised, and a composite score was calculated. Going forward, districts will be ranked based on their progress on a real-time basis. Niti Aayog will subsequently calculate the ‘distance to frontier’ – i.e. the distance of each district from the state’s and nation’s best.
Real-Time Monitoring Dashboard - Champion of change
NITI Aayog in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh has created a dashboard for monitoring the real-time progress of the districts. Key district level officials involved in the collection and evaluation of data underwent training on March 23, 2018 on how to use the dashboard and generate MIS (Management Information System) reports. On April 1, 2018 districts will start entering data. Beginning May 2018, districts will be ranked based on progress made (‘delta ranking’) on a real-time basis.
This dashboard is called champion of change.
Health & Nutrition (30%)
With 30% of the overall composite score on health & nutrition, the program has identified 13 indicators to focus on antenatal care, postnatal care, gender parity, health of new-borns, growth of children, contagious diseases, and health infrastructure.
The education sector accounts of 30% of the overall index. 8 indicators have been identified focussing on learning outcomes (transition rate from primary to upper primary, and subsequently to secondary schooling, average scores in mathematics and language etc.), as well as infrastructural (toilet access for girls, drinking water, electricity supply) and institutional indicators (RTE mandated pupil-teacher ratio, timely delivery of textbooks).
Agriculture & Water Resources (20%)
Agriculture is the backbone of India, with more than 50% of our workforce engaged in cultivation and allied activities. 10 indicators have been identified for the 20% weightage allocated to agriculture. The focus is on outputs (yield, price realisation etc.), inputs (quality seed distribution, soil health cards), and institutional support (crop insurance, electronic markets, artificial insemination, animal vaccination etc.).
Basic Infrastructure (10%)
A roof over one’s head with water, electricity, and road connectivity is the priority of the Government. 7 important indicators have been identified including availability of individual household latrines, drinking water, electricity, and road connectivity. Districts are also tracked for the number of internet connected Gram Panchayats, and panchayats with Common Service Centres.
Financial Inclusion & Skill Development (10%)
Together, these two themes account for 10% of the overall index. 6 indicators have been identified in financial inclusion to measure progress in take-up of important central government schemes (Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana etc.), reach of institutional banking (number of accounts opened under Jan Dhan Yojana), and ease of institutional financing for small businesses (disbursement of Mudra loans). 5 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.
The HDI is an average measure of basic human development achievements in a country, it “masks inequality in the distribution of human development across the population at the country level. So if India’s HDI score for 2015 is 0.624, when this value is discounted for inequality, the HDI falls to 0.454, a loss of 27.2% “due to inequality in the distribution of the HDI dimension indices. So to address this internal inequalities, real time dashboard is establish to pin point the problem areas in a timely manner and eradicate the inequalities in a long term and sustainable manner.
With these real time monitoring measures, we can expect a better rank and score in the Human Development Index because the devils lies in the details and real time monitoring can fix the responsibilites.