How ADP has addressed regional disparity

Amitabh Kant
Nagaland’s Kiphire is one of the most remote districts of India, located in a challenging hilly terrain. Most people in the district are engaged in agriculture and related activities, with kholar or kidney beans being a popular choice. Recognizing the potential of kholar cultivation in improving the livelihoods of the locals, a packaging facility for the same was set up in 2019 through the Aspirational Districts Programme. The facility was an instant hit with the farmers. Since then, kholar cultivation has taken off in a big way and Kiphire’s kidney beans are now being sold across the country on the portal of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
Similar success stories abound across the 112 districts that are a part of the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP), launched by the Prime Minister in 2018. Since its inception, ADP has consistently worked towards boosting growth and development of some of the most backward and remote districts of India.
Earlier this year, UNDP lauded the programme as ‘a very successful model of local area development’ that ‘should serve as a best practice for several other countries where regional disparities in development status persist for many reasons’. In 2020, the Institute of Competitiveness too recognized the far-reaching impact of the programme on the most under-developed pockets of India.
Since the inception of the programme, significant improvement in health, nutrition, education and infrastructure has been noted, along with positive social and economic impact. According to Round 5, Phase 1, of the National Family Health Survey, in critical care areas—such as antenatal care, institutional deliveries, child immunization, use of family planning methods—the aspirational districts have shown relatively faster improvement. Similarly, in basic infrastructure provision, access to electricity, cleaner fuel and sanitation, the districts have moved relatively faster.
The programme has been able to achieve these results by tracking and ranking the performance of the districts on 49 key performance indicators (KPIs) across five sectors: health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, basic infrastructure, financial inclusion and skill development. ADP’s focus on improving governance in these districts has not only improved the delivery of government services but also given rise to dynamic and innovative efforts led by the districts themselves.
The design of ADP recognizes two important realities.
(To be contd)