Seven to eight states in eastern India are responsible for “holding back” the nation and there is a need to name and shame them, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Wednesday. Kant said analysis showed that there are close to 200 districts where there was a failure in terms of education, health and nutrition. “When we break them down, the southern and western parts of India do reasonably well, but it’s the eastern part which is totally in the red,” the NITI Aayog CEO said at the Impact Conclave here. “So failure of India is accounted for by these states. Until you radically reform them and the 200 odd districts, it will be very difficult for India to grow,” he added. Without naming the states, Kant said there had been a huge failure of governance in these places. Unless they were transformed, India would “fail Sustainable Development Goals as we miserably failed Millenium Development Goals. “We need to create a baseline survey and monitor these states and districts on a regular basis and put it all in the public domain. We need to name and shame these states and districts. We must bring it out that these are the states which are holding India back,” he said.
Kant was speaking at a two-day conclave that focuses on “Transformation after two years of Sustainable Development Goals”. He said that with 33 per cent of stunted children in the world coming from India, there seemed to be something “seriously wrong with governance”. “It is not about financial resources. There are schemes for women and child development, Health Department, anganwadis and Asha workers. All these schemes have been running for around 45 years and the leakage levels are so enormous that something seems to be wrong with the governance,” he added. Kant said Indians like to work in silos unlike the Japanese “who work as a team”.
“It’s not possible to achieve nutrition goals unless Women and Child Welfare Department, Education, Health and Sanitation Departments work together. “But at district levels, they are not speaking to each other. So you need a very high level of convergence at the field level,” he said.
Kant added that even at district level, naming and shaming was the key to force improvement at the ground level. “We must monitor and rank everything and put them out in the public domain. We should rank district hospitals and put them out. People must know why a district hospital is performing badly. “Shame it and shame the politicians of that district. And they must be voted out of power if they don’t turn it around,” he said.
Kant said while the Sustainable Development Goals are critical for India, even more critical was India’s ambition to grow. “And it cannot grow without education, health and nutrition. This has to be the fulcrum around which our policies need to evolve,” the NITI Aayog CEO said.