Bengaluru: An appraisal undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of the Centre’s aspirational districts plan has found it to be immensely successful in propelling development and these areas have displayed more growth and development in the last three years than ever before.

Ranchi, Chandauli, Simdega, Sonbhadra and Rajgarh have emerged as the top five districts with maximum change in net resilience since 2018, according to the UNDP appraisal. “Based on the findings of the evaluation, it is recommended that the success of the programme be scaled up and replicated for other sectors and districts,” it has recommended suggesting some tweaks to the programme.

PM Modi tweeted and wrote, “India’s Aspirational Districts Programme aims to ensure inclusive & all-round development in areas across our nation. Under this programme, many districts have witnessed holistic transformation. Glad to see the @UNDP report highlight its salient features.”

The aspirational district programme was launched in 2018 across 112 aspirational districts in 28 states.

It said that a remarkable feature of the programme that has greatly contributed to its success, is the commitment shown by the top most political leadership of the country to bring about rapid progress in the under-developed pockets in India. This includes regular monitoring of the programme at the level of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has motivated and enthused district collectors to deliver their best at the field level.

The focus of the program is to identify the strength of each district and their low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement and measure progress as well as rank districts based on improvements.

UNDP has suggested reduced focus on this competitive approach, as it is likely to result in misreporting of data by districts, and also realignment of sectors and focus.

“While the Aspirational districts programme has helped strengthen crucial Healthcare and Education sectors, those with lesser weightage need significant focus and improvement,” it said.

“A realignment of sectors and focus is therefore required,” it said.

The report was handed over on Friday by UNDP India Resident Representative Shoko Noda to NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar and CEO Amitabh Kant.

“Given the positive impact of the programme, it is necessary to ensure the focus on development is encouraged further and momentum gained so far in expediting growth is maintained,” it said recommending the model to other countries.

"Overall, findings from the net resilience index indicate that the aspirational districts, on average, have been on an upward trajectory since the inception of the programme. A closer look at the best performers indicates an improvement in resilience along with a corresponding reduction in vulnerabilities," the report said.

"On the other hand, the least improved districts have seen significant increases in vulnerabilities. The latter calls for focused attention on specific sectors where these districts have underperformed. Replicating successful programs and learnings from top performers might form the basis of the inclusive growth among the aspirational districts," it added.

The focus is on five critical sectors – healthcare, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development and basic infrastructure.

The least improved districts according to the UNDP’s resilience and vulnerability index were Sitamarhi in Bihar, Gumla (Jharkhand), Dantewada (Chhattisgarh), Bijapur (Karnataka) and Nawada(Bihar).