The Aspirational District Programme (ADP) aims to address governance issues by using a combination of approaches: lifting levels of aspirations through a vision and district plan, adequate institutional arrangements, convergence in all stakeholders’ efforts and above all, ranking based public competition among the districts by setting up a real-time monitoring mechanism.
Setting off a virtuous cycle of growth in Aspirational Districts requires that people from all walks of life – especially those who have a track record of effecting change despite existing challenges – come together.
1. Create a positive narrative of development by making development a mass movement
As a strategy, district officials will draw up a vision and action plan for their districts spanning the period 2018-19 to 2022-23. Officials will engage the public in formulating these plans. Each action plan should be based on a SWOT analysis. To facilitate the preparation of such plans, NITI Aayog has already shared a broad common framework with all district administrations.
The scheme’s design encourages states and district administrations to give a lead role to such champions of change to turn this initiative into a mass movement.
2. Use data to inform decision-making and spur competition among districts
Across the selected dimensions, NITI Aayog has identified 49 key performance indicators (KPIs) with 81 data points. Extensive consultation with central ministries and knowledge partners informed the selection of these KPIs. An online dashboard allows for the tracking and display of district-level data on a real-time basis.
3. Converge initiatives across all levels of government
The ADP aims to ensure convergence between different government schemes while also seeking complementarity between public initiatives and private efforts of households (for example, choosing to attend a course for skilling). To achieve this, the action plan prepared by the district collectors of Aspirational Districts will identify the thrust activity, map existing schemes and their respective implementation agencies and set targets for rapid improvement.
4. Promote federalism and put in place institutional mechanisms to ensure teamwork between the central, state and district administration
Harnessing and creating synergies among the efforts of different stakeholders is the backbone of the ADP. While states are the main drivers and district magistrates/collectors are the fulcrum of the programme, a major innovation here is the emphasis on team formation. Senior Government of India officials of the rank of Joint Secretary/ Additional Secretary have been appointed as ‘guardians’ (‘prabharis’) for a district. Their role is to act as a bridge between the central and state governments.
5. Partner with expert organizations with demonstrated technical competence
Another core component is bringing in technical expertise through public-private partnerships. The approach here is to involve all, including philanthropies, the private sector under the CSR framework and civil societies, in implementing the ADP.