The prime minister had announced the scheme in the 2023-24 Budget to improve the socio-economic conditions of the tribal groups.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday, attended the conference of Chief Secretaries here, terming it as a wonderful forum to exchange views on important policy-related subjects and to strengthen team spirit to take India to newer heights.
The three-day meeting, in which secretaries in the ministries at the Centre are also participating, is mainly focused on ensuring how districts can be developed as proponents of growth and development to achieve the target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2026-27. Many young district collectors and magistrates from states and Union Territories are also attending the meeting to brainstorm on various issues.
Modi will mainly be chairing the deliberations on Friday and Saturday, according to sources. He will also address the chief secretaries and the secretaries in the central ministries. The meeting will also focus on achieving rapid and sustained economic growth in partnership with the states. This is the second edition of the conference, which was first held last year in Dharamshala at the initiative of the PM.
The idea behind this conference is that Cooperative Federalism, through Central Ministries and Departments working together with States in seamless coordination, is an essential pillar for the development and progress of New India.
Sources said this was not an isolated example when PM Modi has tried to leverage Cooperative Federalism to usher in efficiency and synergy in order to respond to many of India’s intractable challenges. In the last 8 years, he has worked to make the process of policy-making and implementation more collaborative and consultative, thus making India more federally governed.
A discussion on the Aspirational Districts’ Programme (ADP), a government flagship programme anchored by Niti Aayog, was on the agenda of the meeting today.
Launched by the PM in January 2018, the Aspirational Districts Programme aims to quickly and effectively transform the 112 most under-developed districts across the country in five thematic areas – health and nutrition; agriculture and water resources; education; financial inclusion and skill development; and basic infrastructure.
Most of the identified districts have crossed the state averages in various fields but have Blocks which continue to lag behind. The 2022-2023 Union Budget had provided to focus on these Blocks.
Under the programme, selected districts are encouraged to first catch up with the best district in their States and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country by competing with, and learning from others in the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism.
Niti Aayog is working closely with respective subject ministries and various development partners to fast-track progress at the district level. The aim is to eliminate interstate and inter-district variations in development.
The districts are encouraged to develop and replicate best practices that drive improvement across the socio-economic themes. The programme essentially is aimed at localizing Sustainable Development Goals, leading to the overall progress of the nation.
The programme entails the convergence of Central and State schemes, collaboration among Central, State, nodal officers and District Collectors, and encouraging competition among districts through monthly delta-ranking.
The ranking is based on the incremental progress made across 49 Key Performance Indicators under the five broad themes and is available on the Champions of Change portal.
With states as the main drivers, this programme focuses on the strength of each district, identifying low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement and measuring progress by ranking districts on a monthly basis.