Aspirational districts – how are they doing?

Aspirational districts – how are they doing?

Published on :- August 16th, 2021

The bottom of our bottom of the pyramid – Aspirational Districts

India is a vast and diverse country. One development index for the entire country does not reflect the unequal development across states and districts. Launched by the Prime Minister of India in 2018, the Aspirational Districts programme identified the most under-developed amongst our 700+ districts. The programme provides special focus and support to accelerate the progress of these 115 districts at the bottom of our development pyramid.

  • Core areas of focus for the programme are Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure.
  • 49 key performance indicators (81 data points) have been chosen to measure progress of the districts.
  • Districts aspire to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country.

* Details on each of the indicators and data points are available here

As can be seen, greater weightage has been given to improving education, health and nutrition. These areas have seen good improvement over the last 2 years, while basic infrastructure has remained ‘as is’ in most cases. Agriculture and water resources on the whole look better, but that is mainly on account of a few districts with major improvement – progress has not been equally good everywhere. The area of most concern is financial inclusion and skill development, where most districts have actually regressed. State-wise picture of progress is here:

Despite the government advocating CSR investment in aspirational districts, only about 1.5% of the total CSR during 2014-20 has actually been invested in these districts that house 15% of India’s population (according to the direct attribution to districts available on MCA CSR portal - a large chunk of CSR remains unattributed to any particular district.)

CSR investments have followed the usually seen pattern of heavy spend in education and healthcare:

How do we shore up investments at the bottom of our bottom of the pyramid and help these districts reach their aspirations of development?

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