Indian government recently launched the Aspirational Block Programme (ABP), which is aimed at improving performance of blocks lagging on various development parameters. The Aspirational Blocks Programme is on the lines of the Aspirational District Programme that was launched in 2018 and covers 112 districts across the country.
This forward-looking programme will leverage the three Cs of convergence, collaboration, and competition to achieve this vision.
Blocks or development blocks were introduced in 1952 to provide for a substantial increase in the country’s agricultural programme, and for improvements in systems of communication, in rural health and hygiene, and in rural education.
Development blocks ensure that a larger than proportionate share of development reaches the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the population by building social and economic infrastructure.
As an administrative and monitoring unit, the block ensures that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not applied to every part of the country. Instead, the block administration can adopt customised approaches towards improving socioeconomic indicators based on the context of the region and the most emergent needs.
This method also brings the decision-making process closer to the grass roots.
95 per cent of 112 aspirational districts have made significant progress in major indicators such as health, nutrition, financial inclusion, and skill development.
However, some blocks continue to under-perform. The reasons for this can be multi-layered — difficult terrain, lack of resources, historical injustice, social marginalisation and community vulnerability, among others.
The ABP aims to address these inequalities by improving governance and last mile service delivery at the block level.
This holistic development will positively catalyse economic development. This will also aid the achievement of critical targets identified under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and enable the blocks to contribute to India’s GDP. The programme strives to protect the rights and uphold the dignity of every single citizen 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. Hence, ‘a viksit/ developed block is the foundation for a viksit/ developed India’ would be realized in real terms.