Assessing Skill development in India: Study of 112 Aspirational Districts of India from March 2018 to March 2022

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Pratham Parekh


The apex planning body of India, NITI Aayog launched an Aspirational District Program in January 2018. This programme aimed to the quick and effective transformation of 112 least backward districts of the country. This programme is based on three dimensions i.e. Convergence of Central & State schemes, Collaboration of ‘Prabhari” officers of States with District Collectors and Competition among districts through a ranking that is done on monthly basis. This ranking is based on 49 KPIs across five broad socio-economic themes.  This programme considers states as responsible agencies for the capacity development of district administration by using data-driven techniques primarily used to capture and assess challenges and identify bottlenecks. After the identification of such bottlenecks, tailor-made policy intervention is devised for each specific district. NITI Aayog at the apex level monitors the progress of each aspirational district by using rigorous statistical models and ICTs. Based on the output or achievement of these districts, all districts are ranked. The highly ranked districts are rewarded while laggard districts are further scrutinized for locating developmental issues. 

Instead of ranking districts with delta rank or composite scores, the study divorce from NITI Aayog’s methodology of monthly delta ranking and attempts to grasp progress made by 112 districts under the Education and Skill Development theme from March 2018 to March 2022. For this purpose, the study explores 14 indicators under the education theme and 10 indicators under the skill development theme. Under the Skill development, theme 10 indicators are selected to trace progress made by districts in terms of youth, employment, skilling of vulnerable youth etc. The progress made by the states and districts represents the progress made in achieving Sustainable Development Goals at local levels.

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