Aspirational Blocks Programme: Building blocks of Viksit Bharat

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Source– The post is based on the article “Aspirational Blocks Programme: Building blocks of Viksit Bharat” published in The Indian Express on 23rd January 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Government policies and interventions

Relevance– Government schemes for development of backward areas.

News– The article explains the recently launched Aspirational Block Programme. It also explains some successful outcomes of the Aspirational District Programme.

What is the Aspirational Blocks Programme and how will it be implemented?

This programme focuses on improving governance. The objective is to enhance the quality of life of citizens in the underdeveloped blocks of India.

This will be done by converging existing schemes, defining outcomes, and monitoring them on a constant basis.

The ABP is built on the success of the government’s flagship Aspirational Districts Programme.

An inter-ministerial committee in consultation with states had identified 500 blocks from across 28 states and four Union territories.

ABP will focus on monitoring 15 key socio-economic indicators categorised under major sectors. These sectors are health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development, basic infrastructure and social development.

States having the flexibility to include additional state-specific socio-economic indicators to address local challenges.

The indicators will be tracked on a real-time basis and periodic rankings will be released across key thematic areas.

What is the role of blocks for development?

The focus on blocks shows the historic importance of blocks introduced in 1952 for developmental goals.

Development locks ensure that a larger than proportionate share of development reaches the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the population by building social and economic infrastructure.

It ensures that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not applied to every part of the country. The block administration can adopt customised approaches based on the context of the region and the most emergent needs.

This method also brings the decision-making process closer to the grassroots.

How has the Aspirational District Programme been successful?

The ADP has shown that if development is taken as a “Jan Andolan” and progress of a district is constantly monitored, success would follow.

In the last five years, many aspirational districts have bettered their performance, across several indicators, than the state average values.

For example, Paschimi Singbhum, a district in Jharkhand has raised registration of pregnant women within the first trimester from just 39% in 2018 to 91% in 2022.

Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir has increased the percentage of secondary schools with functional electricity from less than 50% in 2018 to more than 95% in 2022.

There are other success stories like deploying self help groups in rural Ranchi to promote financial inclusion and financial literacy using UPI and BHIM apps.

In rural Osmanabad in Maharashtra, court services were completely digitised to improve speed and access to justice.

The Finance Minister in her 2022 Union Budget speech mentioned that 95% of 112 aspirational districts have made significant progress in major indicators such as health, nutrition, financial inclusion, and skill development.

What are the main achievements sought by the Aspirational Block Programme?

Some blocks under ADP continue to under-perform. The reasons can be difficult terrain, lack of resources, historical injustice, social marginalisation and community vulnerability.

The ABP aims to address these inequalities by improving governance and last mile service delivery at the block level.

Several line departments of the block administration will converge and work in unison to bridge critical administrative gaps. T

This holistic development will lead to economic development. This will also aid the achievement of critical targets identified under SDGs.

The programme strives to protect the rights and uphold the dignity of every single citizen. It will achieve it by increasing their awareness and enhancing access to government schemes.

It also provides a common platform for all block administrations to showcase their best practices and learnings.

This forward-looking programme will leverage the three Cs of convergence, collaboration, and competition to achieve this vision.

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