Padhe Balrampur, Badhe Balrampur
As I look outside the window of my office, I recollect my conversations with young Dinesh, whom I recently met during my three-day visit to Balrampur district of the ‘Balrampur Cheeni’ fame. My visit was part of a performance-evaluation exercise for the aspirational districts.
Dinesh is a student of Class VIII in one of the government-run middle schools in the district. He is a smart kid and is particularly good at science and mathematics. I was amazed to see his in-depth understanding of complex Euclidean postulates. I immediately told the officers accompanying me to identify and prepare an action plan for such exceptional kids across the schools in the district.
The district administration should ensure that such children do not leave their education midway and coordinate with the state government for arranging scholarships and shifting them to better schools when they reach higher grades.
Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, is a part of the Devipatan division and located on the banks of the West Rapti river. Balrampur town is the district headquarters. According to the 2011 Census, Balrampur district has a population of 21,49,066.
Dinesh is not the only smart kid, there are several like him across all walks of life, who are raring to go out and deliver. The aspirational districts programme is a great enabler in this regard. To enable optimum utilization of their potential, this programme focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy. Health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development, and basic infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.
Kudos to the district administration of Balrampur in propelling it from the last decile ranking to the top 1.5 decile within a span of a year.
Several best practices across multiple focus areas have enabled this quantum leap. For example, the ‘Padhe Balrampur, Badhe Balrampur’ scheme was launched to achieve 100% enrolment in the district schools. While the wheels of transformation have been set in motion, several challenges still remain to be neutralized. Brainstorming sessions were held with the district administration to chalk out several risk-mitigation strategies.
I believe with the dedicated efforts of the district administration and the continual support of the state and Central governments, the district will scale new heights. As I finish my detailed visit report, which will soon be up on the website of NITI Aayog, I hope Dinesh would have moved from Euclid to Pythagoras with his spirit intact.
*Shantanu Rai is Consultant, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.