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NITI Aayog rankings: Haryana’s Mewat is India’s most backward district

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Of the 101 districts that have signed up for the Centre’s ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme so far, Andhra’s Vizianagaram performs best.

New Delhi: The NITI Aayog Wednesday released a preliminary or baseline ranking for the 101 most backward districts of India that have signed up for the Narendra Modi government’s ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme.

Haryana’s Mewat is the lowest-ranked among these backwards districts, while Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram is the best-performing district of the 101.

Mewat is preceded by Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli and a Telangana town at the bottom of the list, while Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon and Maharashtra’s Osmanabad lie second and third on the top of the table.

Officials say the ranking is the first step in pushing these backward districts towards the path of progress.

The Prime Minister himself is set to visit one of the best performing districts on 14 April for Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations.

The plan

As per the UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Index, India is ranked 131 out of 188 countries, indicating the significant need for improvement.

The Transformation of Aspirational Districts programme is loosely based on the erstwhile Planning Commission’s Integrated Action Plan (IAP), which looked at the physical and financial performance of 88 tribal and backward districts.

The total number of districts in the programme is set to go up to 117 when 10 districts of Odisha, five from West Bengal and one from Kerala join.

The plan is for the NITI Aayog, the home ministry and other branches of government to transform these 117 districts in the first phase, which have been lagging behind on several human development parameters. These including Maoist-affected districts.

Officials estimate that about 15 crore people — or about 12 per cent of India’s population — are set to benefit from the programme.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the rankings would create competition at the state, district and block levels. He emphasised that the programme would reinforce the competitive and cooperative federalism between the Centre and states, down to the districts.

How the states performed

Jharkhand has the dubious distinction of having 19 districts in the list, while Bihar has 13, Chhattisgarh has 10, UP and MP have eight each. Goa has none.

Sector-wise rankings for the districts indicate that in the case of health, Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu performed the best among these 101 districts, while Darrang in Assam is the worst performer.

In education, Bhoopalpalli in Telangana was the top performer, while MP’s Singrauli was the worst performer.

What contributes to the rankings

The rankings are based on 49 indicators and 81 data points monitored in real time using a dashboard created in partnership with the Andhra Pradesh government, which will also be used for data collection.

ThePrint had earlier reported that the parameters of health and nutrition, and education would account for 30 per cent each of the overall composite score in the rankings.

Agriculture and water resources, basic infrastructure, and financial and skill development are some of the other factors.

From May this year, districts will also be ranked on their incremental progress, known as delta ranking.

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