Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam: Paper - III (General Studies – II) - 15 October 2018


Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam


UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-III: General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Q. Government has recently launched a programme called ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’. Discuss its objectives and significance. (250 words)

Model Answer:

Approach:

  • Why in news?
  • Introduction
  • Objectives
  • Significance
  • Conclusion

Why in news?

Our Prime Minister launched the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme in January 2018.

Introduction

  • For an urgent enhancement of the Human Development Index and the reduction in the significant inter-state and inter-district variations in development, the Prime Minister launched the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme in January 2018.
  • The programme hinges on expeditiously transforming 115 districts that were identified from 28 states, in a transparent manner.
  • The programme leverages the collective efforts of the central, state and local governments, and puts in place real-time monitoring mechanisms to measure progress. There are three core aspects that frame the structure of the programme – Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts.
  • Driven primarily by the States and instituted for the States, this initiative focuses on the strength of each district, and identifies the attainable outcomes for immediate improvement, while measuring progress, and ranking the selected districts.

Objectives

  • ADP aims to transform 115 Indian districts (identified from 28 states) that lag in specific development parameters like education, health and nutrition, financial inclusion, agriculture, skill development and basic infrastructure.
  • India will not be able to sustain robust growth without focusing on all states and regions. Ensuring progress in areas facing the most severe challenges and improving conditions in remote and rural regions are prerequisites for India to reach the next stage of its economic and human development. The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform these regions (districts).
  • The Aspirational District programme is an innovation in governance that covers about 15% of India’s population and is reflective of the priority of the Government to provide for the poorest of poor.
  • To optimally utilize potential and ensure that the New India 2022 is a part of every individual’s vision especially in the rural areas, this initiative focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the rapidly growing economy.

Significance

  • With this initiative, India would emerge as a hub for experiment as globally, governments have been increasingly incorporating data to inform policies on a large scale. Yet, the use of data under India’s Aspirational Districts program is unique because of its scale and scope. No other developing country has undertaken a program that focuses on holistic development of a large share of its population.
  • This programme is non-partisan, completely unbiased and an all-India initiative meant to trigger uniform growth and development in every corner of the country. Simply put, it is a landmark unprecedented achievement for e-monitoring, governance and productive use of real-time data through a participatory method that involves everyone. This is the first step in ensuring a national inclusive development strategy that is broad-based and ensures that no district is left behind.
  • Not merely as a name and shame module, this programme is essentially a competitive federalism and synergy-enhancing module that will eventually give every corner of India - rural or urban, a chance to exceed its own aspirations, and a platform to be heard and where required, helped.
  • It is unquestionable that the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative envisioned by the Prime Minister is a giant leap towards transforming India for the New India 2022 vision.
  • 49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of the districts. Districts are prodded and encouraged 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.
  • The programme is unprecedented in its scale and ambition. At its core is the fact that data is central to policymaking. Up-to-date statistics on health, education and other dimensions of development lend the programme a rigour that an observational approach could not. Through ADP, data is advancing policymaking in three important ways: strengthening analysis and monitoring, enhancing accountability and transparency, and taking into account the heterogeneity across districts and states.
  • The Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) is a radical departure from the country’s previous development strategies in its scale, scope and ownership. Implicit in the design of the programme is the fact that India’s economy cannot sustain growth without improving human development for all its citizens. This landmark programme recognises the disparities in development across states and districts.
  • The ADP brings together all levels of government, from central and state officers driving operations, to the district collectors implementing innovative measures on the ground.
  • In addition to tailoring interventions to districts, the programme is novel in four important ways: shifting the focus to socio-economic outcomes, placing data at the core of policymaking, emphasising collaboration across various levels of government, and partnering with civil society.
  • The programme is a collaborative effort between government, various foundations and civil society. Through partnerships with several voluntary organisations, the programme benefits from different perspectives, technical skills and on-the-ground experience.
  • There is no financial package or large allocation of funds to this programme. The intent is to leverage the resources of the several government programmes that already exist but are not always used efficiently.
  • The collection of quality data on a real-time basis is being given serious attention under ADP. Too often in India, data collection is delayed or lacking in quality which ends up leading to policymakers shooting in the dark. With continuously updated data dashboards, those running the programme on the ground can alter strategies after accurate feedback.

Conclusion

The ADP is a big pilot programme from reorienting how government does its business of delivering development. Achieving success in this programme requires three tiers of government, the Centre, States and district administrations, to work in tandem.

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