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District Governance: SKOCH State of Governance Report 2021

District Governance: SKOCH State of Governance 2021

Districts have performed well in India in 2021. Several good governance initiatives across niches have emerged.

By Team Inclusion


14 April, 2022 State of Governance
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District Rankings

Districts led the good governance initiatives across the country during 2021.

STARS

Top 10 best performing districts are categorised as Stars. In 2021, the Star districts are: Ananthapuramu and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh are ranked at number one and two positions, respectively. Kothagudem district of Telangana is at the third position.

There was a tough fight for the fourth spot. Six districts collectively acquired the fourth position. The districts that collectively acquired the fourth position are: Ahmedabad, Gujarat; Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh; Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh; Kamrup Metropolitan, Assam; Mandla, Madhya Pradesh; and Tamenglong, Manipur. Another district that found a place in the top 10 is Cachar, Assam.

Ananthapuramu district of Andhra Pradesh acquired the number one position among districts in SKOCH State of Governance 2021. The district was ranked at the second position in 2020.

Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh, which was ranked at the fifth position in 2020, jumped to the second position in 2021.

Kothagudem district of Telangana recorded a massive surge in its ranking jumping from 15th position in 2020 to the third position in 2021.

Ahmedabad district of Gujarat, which was at the top spot in 2019 as well as 2020, slipped to the fourth position in 2021.

Given the steep competition, only three of the districts that were in the top 10 in 2020 managed to retain their position among Stars in 2021.

PERFORMERS

After the top 10 best ranked districts that are part of STARS, the next 25 top ranked are categorised as PERFORMERS. Point wise ranks of these 25 districts that are part of the PERFORMERS category vary from sixth to tenth position.

Una district of Himachal Pradesh is ranked the top among the PERFORMERS category. Based on point wise performance Una is ranked at the sixth position. However, it could not manage to secure its place in STAR category as multiple districts tied for the fourth position, securing same points in ranking. Una made huge progress in 2021 surging to the sixth position rank wise from 25th position in 2020.

Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu is the second best ranked in PERFORMERS category. Point wise it secured the seventh position.

Anjaw, Arunachal Pradesh; Anuppur, Madhya Pradesh; Bankura, West Bengal; Chamba, Himachal Pradesh; Geedam, Chhattisgarh; Jamtara, Jharkhand; Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh; Mahabubnagar, Telangana; and Mon, Nagaland, jointly secured the eighth position. These are among the 25 PERFORMERS districts.

CATCHING UP

Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, is the top performer in the CATCHING UP category. Point wise, it secured the 11th position.

Angul, Odihsa; Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu; Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh; Baran, Rajasthan; Barnala, Punjab; Bhiwani, Haryana; Budgam, Jammu & Kashmir; Charkhi Dadri, Haryana and Deoria, Uttar Pradesh, are among the catching up districts.

OTHER DISTRICTS

Innovative initiatives were recorded during the year from 80 districts across the country.

While high ranking districts are categorised as STARS, PERFORMERS and CATCHING UP, some good initiatives are also recorded in other districts.

The districts that could not manage to find a place in STARS, PERFORMERS and CATCHING UP categories are placed in Other Districts category.  

State Rankings in District Governance

STARS

Five top performing states are categorised as ‘STARS’.

Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Telangana and Himachal Pradesh are the STAR states in District Governance category.

All the states which are in the STAR category have improved their ranking in 2021 from the previous year.

Andhra Pradesh surged to the top position in District Governance sectoral ranking in 2021. The state has also topped the overall SKOCH State of Governance 2021 ranking. In the District Governance sectoral ranking Andhra Pradesh jumped to the numero uno position in 2021 from the third position in 2020.

Madhya Pradesh jumped to the second position in 2021 from the sixth position in 2020.

Assam made a huge gain in its ranking surging to the third position in 2021 from the 18th position in 2020.

Telangana surged to the fourth position in 2021 from the ninth position in 2020.

Himachal Pradesh, which was at the 11th position in 2020, improved its ranking to the fifth position in 2021.

PERFORMERS

Eight top ranking states after ‘STARS’ are categorised as ‘PERFORMERS’

Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh jointly bagged the sixth position. These states jointly topped the PERFORMERS category.

Gujarat slipped from the second position in 2020 to the sixth position in 2021, while Uttar Pradesh slipped from the fourth position in 2020 to the sixth position in 2021.   

Tamil Nadu, which secured the top position in District Governance sectoral ranking in 2020, is placed at the ninth position in 2021.

Two North Eastern states – Manipur and Nagaland – are among the top gainers in the District Governance category.

Nagaland surged from the 23rd position in 2020 to the 10th position in 2021.

Manipur posted a massive surge in its ranking. It soared to the seventh position in 2021 from the 26th position in 2020, climbing 19 positions in a year.

Chhattisgarh surged to the eighth position in 2021 from the 21st position in 2020.

West Bengal improved its ranking from the 14th position in 2020 to the ninth position in 2021.

Jharkhand climbed two spot to the 10th position in 2021 from the 12th position in 2020.

CATCHING UP

Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka have secured place in CATCHING UP category in District Governance sectoral ranking.

Three of the five states in the CATCHING UP category have improved their ranking in 2021 when compared with the previous year. Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra climbed while Odisha and Karnataka slipped from their position secured in 2020.

Arunachal Pradesh jumped to the 11th position in 2021 from the 15th position in 2020, making a gain of four positions.

Maharashtra climbed three spots to reach the 14th position in 2021 from the 17th position in 2020.

Haryana climbed one step to reach the 12th position in 2021 from the 13th position secured in 2020.

Odisha, which was among the top five in District Governance sectoral ranking in 2020, slipped to the 13th position in 2021.

Karnataka slipped five steps to the 15th position in 2021 from the 10th position in 2021.

OTHER STATES

 Bihar, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir (UT), Kerala, Mizoram and Rajasthan have also shown significant performance in District Governance sectoral ranking.

Mizoram, which was not ranked in 2020 due to lack of any significant project, made a strong entry at the 17th position.

Kerala improved its ranking to the 17th position in 2021 from the 25th position in 2020.

Rajasthan climbed two steps to reach the 17th position in 2021 from the 19th position in 2020.

Jammu & Kashmir (UT) improved its ranking to the 17th position in 2021 from the 20th position in 2020.

Jammu & Kashmir (UT), Kerala, Mizoram and Rajasthan jointly secured the 17th position in District Governance sectoral ranking in 2021. The joint ranking is due to the same points scored by these states.

Bihar slipped from the seventh position in 2020 to the 16th position in 2021.

Uttarakhand, which was placed at the eighth position in 2020, slipped to the 16th position in 2021.

Punjab maintained its position steady at the 16th spot.

Shift in Priorities at District Level: SKOCH State of Governance 2021

Covid-19 Pandemic leads to big shift in governance priorities at district level

Health, Livelihoods and e-Governance take centre-stage while General Administration, Education and Sanitation go in the back seat.

Sectors with Increased Focus

Renewed focus on e-Governance: Higher numbers of innovative e-Governance initiatives were taken at the district level across the country, in order to overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-related restrictions. One in every 10 good governance initiatives taken at the district level in 2021 was related to e-Governance. In 2019, no noteworthy e-Governance initiative was recorded. In 2020, the first year of Covid pandemic, 5.2 per cent of the total projects were related to e-Governance. This proportion increased sharply to 10 per cent in 2021.    

Health: There has been a sharp increase in health related good governance initiatives in the past two years. In 2019, health accounted for only 9.1 per cent of the total good governance initiatives at the district level. This rose sharply to 16.5 per cent in 2020. However, it fell down sharply to 8.2 per cent in 2021.   

Livelihoods: Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the livelihoods of the poor. Livelihoods got good attention during 2021. Out of the total good governance initiatives taken at the district level, 7.3 per cent was related to livelihoods. This proportion was just 1.2 per cent in 2020 and 3.6 per cent in 2019.

Nutrition: Nutrition is an important factor in ensuring the health and well-being of people. It became all the more important during the Covid pandemic time. Nutrition has received good attention at the district level governance initiatives. In 2019, only 3.6 per cent of the good governance initiatives fell in the nutrition category. This rose to 7.3 per cent in 2021.

Skill Development: Economic disruptions caused by lockdowns made crores of people jobless. Some sectors got badly hit while new opportunities were created in other sectors. District administrations took a number of initiatives to enhance skills of the workforce. In 2019, only 1.8 per cent of the total good governance initiatives were related to skill development. This rose to 4 per cent in 2020 and fell marginally to 3.6 per cent in 2021.

Agriculture: The only sector that managed to deliver positive growth during the Covid lockdowns was agriculture. The sector received good attention during the pandemic. Several innovative governance initiatives have been introduced since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. The number of good governance projects in the agriculture sector rose significantly. Only 3.6 per cent of the total good governance projects in 2019 were from the agriculture sector. This rose to 4.3 per cent in 2020 and increased further to 4.5 per cent in 2021.

Social Welfare: The Covid-19 pandemic hit the poor the hardest. Given the enormity of the problem and resource crunch the administration had to take innovative measures to provide relief to the marginalised people. 4.5 per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken in 2021 were related to social welfare. No project was shortlisted in this category in the previous two years.

Continued Focus

Water: Water remains a major focus area of governance. It was a key focus area during pre-Covid pandemic period and remained so during the Covid period. After the General Administration, water was the biggest focus area during 2019, the pre-Covid period. In 2019, 14.5 per cent of total good governance initiatives were from the water sector. The focus continued in 2020 as well as 2021. In 2020, the share of water in total projects rose to 16.8 per cent. In 2021, it declined to 12.7 per cent, but remained the second most important focus area after Response to Covid.  

Sectors with Less Focus

General Administration: General Administration accounted for 23.6 per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken at the district level in 2019. It declined to 6.1 per cent in 2020. In 2021, it declined to 0 per cent. This means no significant initiatives taken at the district level in the general administration category in 2021.

Education:  Education is another sector that witnessed less attention during the Covid pandemic. In 2019, 12.7 per cent of the total good governance initiatives at the district level were in the area of education. This came down to 6.7 per cent in 2020 and rose marginally to 7.3 per cent in 2021.

Sanitation: While frequent hand-washing and sanitisation have been among the most effective ways to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, good governance initiatives related to sanitation declined sharply during the Covid pandemic period. Sanitation accounted for 12.7 per cent of the total good governance initiatives in 2019. This proportion fell to 4.9 per cent in 2020 and further to 3.6 per cent in 2021.

Shift in Priorities of Aspirational Districts

Sectors with Increased Focus

Agriculture, Nutrition, Social Welfare and e-Governance are among the major sectors that witnessed increased focus among Aspirational Districts in 2021.

Agriculture: Agriculture was among the major focus areas for Aspirational districts during 2021. In 2020, only 5.2 per cent of the total good governance initiative was related to the agriculture sector. This rose to 8 per cent in 2021. In 2019 there was no significant initiative taken in the agriculture sector by aspirational districts.

Nutrition: Nutrition, which had been a neglected area, got a good focus in 2021. Eight per cent of the total good governance initiative in 2021 was related to the nutrition category. There was no significant initiative in this category in the previous two years.

Skill Development: The share of skill development in total good governance initiatives taken by aspirational districts rose to 4 per cent in 2021 from 2.6 per cent in 2020.

e-Governance: There was renewed focus on e-Governance at most levels of administration due to the Covid related restrictions and challenges. Four per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken in 2021 by the aspirational district were related to e-Governance. No significant initiative was recorded in this category in the previous two years.  

Tourism & Culture: Four per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken in 2021 by aspirational districts were related to tourism and culture. No significant initiative recorded in the previous two years in this sector.

Response to COVID: At almost all levels of administration the main focus during the year was on managing the Covid crisis. Nearly one-fourth of the total good governance initiatives taken in 2021 by the aspirational districts fell in the category of Response to COVID. In 2020, 13 per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken by the aspirational districts were in Response to COVID category. This rose to 24 per cent in 2021.

Sectors with Less Focus

General Administration, Sanitation, Livelihoods and Water are key sectors that received less focus among the Aspirational districts in 2021  

General Administration: General Administration took the backseat in 2021. In 2019, more than one third of the total good governance initiatives taken by the aspirational districts were related to General Administration. In 2020 the share of General Administration projects in total good governance initiatives taken by the aspirational districts plunged to 2.6 per cent from 33.3 per cent recorded in 2019. In 2021, no initiative was selected in this category.

Sanitation: Sanitation was a big focus area of aspirational districts in the pre-COVID year. In 2019, 33.3 per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken by the aspirational districts were related to sanitation. The shift in priority is evident as no sanitation related projects from the aspirational districts could be selected for SKOCH State of Governance ranking in 2020 as well as 2021.

Livelihoods: Surprisingly, livelihoods have also received negligible focus among the aspirational districts during the COVID period. In 2019, 16.7 per cent of the total selected initiatives from the aspirational districts were related to livelihoods. This proportion dropped to 4 per cent in 2021. In 2020, no project could be selected.

Water: Water has been a key area of governance initiative across the country in the past few years. It was among the focus areas of good governance initiatives by the aspirational districts in 2021, albeit with reduced numbers. In 2019, 16.7 per cent of the total good governance initiatives by the aspirational districts were related to water. This rose to 18.2 per cent in 2020. But it fell sharply down to 8 per cent in 2021.

Aspirational Districts vs Other Districts

There are some interesting trends as regards the governance priorities of aspirational districts vis-à-vis other districts

The aspirational districts have put increased focus on health, response to COVID, agriculture, social welfare, and tourism & culture while the other districts have been more focused on e-Governance, livelihoods, water and sanitation.

The aspirational districts focused on social welfare, education and agriculture while the focus of the other districts was on livelihoods, sanitation and women & child development

Focus Areas in Aspirational Districts

Health: In the past two years due to the COVID pandemic, health has got increased attention both in aspirational districts as well as the other districts. However, the aspirational districts have put more focus on the health sector when compared with the other districts. In the aspirational districts 12 per cent of the total good governance initiatives in 2021 were related to the health sector, while in other districts it stood at 7.1 per cent.

Response to COVID: The aspirational districts have been more proactive in managing the COVID crisis. Twenty four per cent of the total good governance initiatives taken by aspiration districts in 2021 were related to ‘response to COVID’. Among the other districts this proportion stood at 12.9 per cent.  

Agriculture: Among the aspirational districts 8 per cent of the total good governance projects in 2021 were related to agriculture, while for the other districts this proportion stood at 3.5 per cent. Clearly, aspirational districts gave more focus on agriculture when compared with the other districts.

Social Welfare: The aspirational districts are lagging behind the other districts on most socio-economic development parameters. They have a higher proportion of poor population and thus required more focus on social welfare during the pandemic time. In 2021, social welfare accounted for 8 per cent of the total good governance initiatives in aspirational districts. In other districts this proportion stood at 3.5 per cent.

Tourism & Culture: In the areas of tourism and culture the aspirational districts took more innovative governance initiatives when compared with the other districts. In 2021, 4 per cent of the total good governance initiatives by the aspirational districts were related to tourism and culture, while in other districts it was just 1.2 per cent.

Focus Areas in Other Districts

Other districts gave more focus to the areas like e-Governance, livelihoods, water and sanitation during 2021 when compared with the aspirational districts.

e-Governance: e-Governance emerged as a top priority area for the other districts during 2021. Of the total good governance initiatives taken by the other districts 11.8 per cent was related to e-Governance. In the aspirational districts e-Governance accounted for only 4 per cent of the total projects.

Livelihoods: In order to provide relief to the people left jobless due to the economic disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic and lockdowns, the districts took several innovative measures to provide livelihoods support. 8.2 per cent of the total initiatives in the other districts were related to livelihoods while in the aspirational districts only 4 per cent of the total good governance initiatives during 2021 were related to livelihoods.

Women & Child Development: The other districts gave good importance to women and child development. 10.6 per cent of the total good governance initiatives in the other districts during 2021 were related to women and child development. No women and child development related initiatives were recorded in the aspirational districts during the year.

Sanitation: Sanitation took a back seat in governance initiatives of the aspirational districts in 2021. However, in the other districts it remained in focus. In 2021, 4.7 per cent of the total good governance initiatives in the other districts were related to sanitation, while there was no sanitation related initiative in the aspiration districts during the year.

Water: Water remained a major focus area for the aspirational districts as well as the other districts. However, it received bigger focus in the other districts when compared with the aspirational districts. In 2021, 14.1 per cent of the total good governance initiatives in the other districts were related to water, while in the aspirational district it stood at 8 per cent.   

Equal Focus

The areas like education, nutrition and skill development witnessed similar focus in aspirational as well as the other districts. The gap between the aspirational districts and other districts in these categories were marginal.

Education: Eight per cent of the total good governance initiatives in the aspirational districts were related to education, while in the other districts 7.1 per cent of the total good governance initiatives were related to education during the year 2021.

Nutrition: Nutrition became a focus area of good governance in the COVID period in the aspirational as well as the other districts. Eight per cent of the total good governance initiatives in the aspirational districts were related to nutrition while in the other districts it stood at 7.1 per cent.

Skill Development: Skill development became a focus area of the aspiration districts in 2021. Four per cent of the total good governance projects in the aspirational district was related to skill development. In the other districts, 3.5 per cent of the total good governance initiatives were related to skill development.     

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