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Day 11 – Q 4.Why does India have pockets of underdevelopment? Explain. Can initiatives like the Aspirational District Programme address this problem? Critically examine.

4. Why does India have pockets of underdevelopment? Explain. Can initiatives like the Aspirational District Programme address this problem? Critically examine.  

भारत में अविकसित क्षेत्र क्यों हैं? स्पष्ट करें। क्या एस्पिरेशनल डिस्ट्रिक्ट प्रोग्राम जैसी पहल इस समस्या का समाधान कर सकती है? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।


The pattern of economic growth across the states in India has been a matter of policy evaluation due to various factors from many years. In the context of ‘balanced regional development’, the trickle-down of growth from one region to another and the spill over effects has a wide gap in India.


Reason for pockets of Underdevelopment


According to National Sample Survey Organization estimated poverty is 21.9% of the population (269 mn) in 2011-12 as per Tendulkar Committee methodology. And as per World Bank data 21.2% of population in India was lining below the International poverty line. 

Poor Health- 

  • Global Hunger Index 2019 – India dropped to 102 rank out of 119 rank in 2019 from 83 out of 113 countries in 2000. 
  • The share of wasting among children in India rose from 16.5% in 2008-12 to 20.8% in 2014-18.
  • Child wasting is as high as at 20.8%.


Despite the provision of free and compulsory education to all the children to the age group 6-14 years, 32 million Indian children of age upto 13 years have never attended any school according to NSSO data. Current Global Enrollment Ratio stands at 26.3%.

Poor Basic Infrastructure-

  • According to Global Infrastructure Outlook report, by Global Infrastructure Hub, a G20 initiative, India is the lowest performer in the road and watee sectors and  Airports and is the second lowest performer in the ports and telecom sector.

Aspirational District Programme- 

The ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ Programme aims to expeditiously improve the socio-economic status of 117 districts from across 28 states.

It is based on three core principles of convergence, collaboration and competition. With States as the main drivers, this program focuses on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

  • These 117 districts account for more than 20% of the country’s population and cover over 8,600 gram panchayats.
  • Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.
  • It aims to improve performance across indicators that improve the quality of life as well as economic productivity.
  • The NITI Aayog launched the baseline ranking for the Aspirational Districts based on the published data of 49 indicators (81 data points) across five developmental areas with different weightages. 
  • NITI Aayog & Govt. of Andhra Pradesh created dashboard for monitoring real-time progress of districts.
  • Delta Ranking of districts strengthens the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism on the foundations of evidence-based policy making.

 Challenges to ADP programme-

  • Politicisation of programme as some states like west bengal , odisha and kerela withdraws their name
  • The programme follows “one size fits all” approach and different district in states  states have pecularities of its own , so a common path of development would not work.
  • For special attention to particular district there is no scope of financial attention.
  • Lack of advanced technology to monitor the status of the initiative.

Way forward-

  • Discard One size fits all model of development.
  • Outcome based monitoring : linking dashboard to PRAGATI.
  • Decentralization of power upto Panchayati Raj Institution making it a 4-tiered initiative.
  • Promotion of people participation.
  • Creating awareness of the programme.


In summary, the level of development of a state is the consequence of a complex set of historical, cultural, and sociological factors. Additional financial resources may be helpful in increasing growth rates, but the ability to use these resources well is probably most important in distinguishing regions that develop successfully and those that do not.

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