District Magistrates (DM)s shared their experience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has led to improvement of performance of their districts on a host of indicators. The Prime Minister sought direct feedback from them about the key steps taken by them which has resulted in success in the districts, and about the challenges faced by them in this endeavour.
He also asked them about how working under the aspirational districts programme has been different from their work done earlier. The officers discussed how JanBhagidari has been a key factor behind this success. They spoke about how they kept people working in their team motivated on a daily basis, and made efforts to develop the feeling that they were not doing a job but were performing a service. They also spoke about increased inter-departmental coordination and benefits of data driven governance.
CEO, NITI Aayog gave an overview of the progress and implementation of the Aspirational District programme. He mentioned how the programme leveraged competitive and cooperative federalism, driven by a Team India spirit. The efforts have resulted in these districts performing remarkably better in every parameter, a fact which has been recognized independently by global experts as well. The best practises like smart classroom initiative from Banka, Bihar; Mission Aparajita to prevent child marriages in Koraput, Odisha etc. were replicated by other districts as well. Analysis of performance of districts vis-a-vis stability of tenure of key officials of the district was also presented.
Rural Development Secretary gave a presentation on a mission to uplift 142 selected districts, on the lines of the focussed work done in the aspirational districts. Centre and State will work together to uplift these identified districts to address the pockets of under-development. 15 sectors corresponding to 15 Ministries and Departments were identified. In the sectors, key performance indicators (KPIs) were identified.
The aim of the government is to ensure that the KPIs in the selected districts surpass the state average in the next one year and that they come at par with national average in two years. Each concerned Ministry/Department has identified its set of KPIs, on the basis of which, districts were selected. The initiative is aimed at achieving saturation of various schemes by various departments in the districts in mission mode, in convergence with all stakeholders. Secretaries of various Ministries and Departments presented an overview of an action plan about how their ministries will go about in achieving these targets.
Addressing the officials, the Prime Minister noted that when the aspirations of others become your aspirations, when fulfilling the dreams of others becomes the measure of your success, then that path of duty creates history. Today we are seeing this history being made in the aspirational districts of the country, he added.
The Prime Minister noted that various factors led to a situation where aspirational districts, in the past, started lagging behind. In order to facilitate holistic development, special hand-holding was done for the aspirational districts. The situation has changed now as today, Aspirational Districts are eliminating the barriers of the progress of the country. The Aspirational Districts are becoming an accelerator instead of an obstacle. The Prime Minister underlined the expansion and redesigning that has taken place due to the campaign in the Aspirational Districts. This has given a concrete form to the federal spirit and culture of the Constitution, the basis of which is the team work of centre-state and local administration, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister stressed that for development in aspirational districts, a direct and emotional connect between the administration and the public is very important. A sort of ‘top to bottom’ and ‘bottom to top’ flow of governance. Important aspect of this campaign is technology and innovation, he said. The Prime Minister also mentioned districts where excellent results have been obtained by the use of technology and innovation in the fields like malnutrition, clean drinking water and vaccination.
The Prime Minister noted that convergence is a major reason for the country’s success in the aspirational districts. All resources are the same, government machinery is the same, officials are the same but the results are different. Seeing the entire district as a unit enables the officer to feel the enormity of her efforts and give a sense of purpose of life and satisfaction of bringing meaningful change.
The Prime Minister noted that during the last 4 years, Jan-Dhan accounts have increased by 4-5 times in almost every aspirational district. Almost every family has got a toilet and electricity has reached every village. A new energy has been infused in people’s lives, he said. The Prime Minister said due to a tough life the people of Aspirational Districts are more hard-working, courageous and capable of taking risks and this strength should be recognized.
The Prime Minister remarked that aspirational districts have proved due to the elimination of silos in implementation optimum utilisation of resources takes place. He emphasized the exponential benefits of this reform and said when silos end, 1+1 doesn’t become 2, 1+1, becomes 11. We see this collective power in the Aspirational Districts today, the Prime Minister said. Elaborating on the approach of governance in the Aspirational Districts, the Prime Minister said that, firstly, people were consulted in identification of their problems.
Second, the working style kept on being refined on the basis of experiences in the Aspirational Districts and measurable indicators, real time monitoring of progress, healthy competition among the districts and replication of good practices were encouraged. Thirdly, through reforms like stable tenures of the officers, creation of effective teams was encouraged. This helped in getting big results even with limited resources. The Prime Minister asked for developing detailed guidelines for field visits, inspections and night halts for proper implementation and monitoring.
The Prime Minister drew the attention of the officers towards the changed mindset of New India. He reiterated that today, during the Azadi ka Amrit Kaal, the country’s goal is to achieve 100% saturation of services and facilities. That is, we have a long way to go compared to the milestones we have achieved so far and have to work on a much bigger scale. He stressed time-bound targets for taking roads to all the villages of the districts, ayushman cards, bank account to every person, Ujjwala gas connection, insurance, pension housing for everyone.
He called for a two year vision for every district. He suggested that every district can identify 10 tasks to be completed in the next 3 months to improve ease of living for common people. Similarly, 5 tasks may be associated with the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to achieve historical success in this historical epoch.
The Prime Minister said the country is witnessing a silent revolution in the form of Digital India. No district should be left behind in this. He stressed the importance for digital infrastructure reaching every village and becoming a means of door-step delivery of services and facilities. He asked NITI Aayog to devise a mode of regular interaction between the district DMs. Central Ministries were asked to document the challenges of these districts.
The Prime Minister said various ministries and departments of the government have prepared a list of 142 districts which are not so much lagging in development but are weak on one or two parameters. The Prime Minister emphasized the need to work with the same collective approach as is being done in the Aspirational Districts. “This is a new challenge for all the governments- the government of India, the state government, the district administration, and the government machinery. Now we have to complete this challenge together”, Mr.Modi said
The Prime Minister urged the Civil Servants to remember their first day in their Services and recall the passion and urge to serve the country. The Prime Minister asked them to move forward with the same spirit.