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As a consequence of amalgamation of regions at varying levels of socio- economic development & different political and administrative structures, the modern state has inherited regional imbalances that still persist. The backwardness of states is measured to understand the extent of these regional imbalances. Some of the attempts to define or measure backwardness in India are mentioned below:

Measuring backwardness of taluks in the state of Karnataka - 2000

Considering the resentment in North Karnataka over growing disparities, the state government of Karnataka had appointed a High Powered Committee for Redressal of Regional Imbalances (HPCRRI) in October 2000. Committee studied the disparities & presented its report in June 2002 wherein all the taluks in the State were categorized in the order of backwardness. The study followed a two-fold approach

The 35 indicators considered by this study pertained to 5 main sectors:

The Committee had also calculated the resource allocation among the four divisions of the state i.e., Gulbarga, Belgaum, Bangalore and Mysore Division, based on the Cumulative Deprivation Index (1-CCDI).

Measuring backwardness of Districts at the national level - 2003-04

Concept of Backwardness also came up in the context of a scheme for backward districts, called Backward Districts Initiative – Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) – (A Tenth Plan Initiative). The Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) was being implemented in 147 districts since 2003-04. The list of districts covered under the RSVY may be seen here. The Scheme was aimed at focused development programmes for backward areas which would help reduce imbalances and speed up development. The identification of backward districts within a State was made on the basis of an index of backwardness comprising three parameters with equal weights to each:

This Scheme later got subsumed in the Backward Regions Grant Fund program, the guidelines of which may be seen here. This Scheme was also proposed for closure from December 2009 as most of the districts have claimed their total allocation of Rs.45 crore each. As such there is no proposal under consideration of the Government to extend RSVY to other districts of the country.

Measuring backwardness of states - 2013

Government in May 2013, decided to constitute an Expert Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Raghuram Rajan to measure backwardness of the Indian States by evolving a Composite Development Index of States for guiding devolution of funds from central government to such backward states. The committee submitted its report in September 2013.

The Committee proposed a general method for allocating funds from the Centre to the states based both on a state’s development needs as well as its development performance. Towards this, committee created a multi-dimensional index based on certain measures which correspond to the multi dimensional approach to defining poverty outlined in the Twelfth Plan. Need is based on a simple index of (under) development computed as an average of the following ten sub-components:

Improvements to a state’s development index over time (that is, a fall in underdevelopment) is taken as the measure of performance. Less developed states rank higher on the index, and would get larger allocations based on the need criteria, with allocations increasing more than linearly to the most underdeveloped states.

The Committee recommended that States that score 0.6 and above on the Index may be classified as “Least Developed”; States that score below 0.6 and above 0.4 may be classified as “Less Developed”; and States that score below 0.4 may be classified as “Relatively Developed”. The “Least Developed” states effectively subsume what is now “special category” state.

Committee recommended that each State may get a fixed basic allocation of 0.3 percent of overall funds, to which will be added its share stemming from need and performance to get its overall share. Of the funds remaining after the allocation of 0.3%, around 3/4th will be allocated based on need and 1/4th based on performance.

Using the index, the Committee has identified the “Least Developed” states as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Government as on date has not taken any decision on the recommendations of the Committee.

Further References

Report on General Issues Relating to Backward Areas Development, National Committee on the Development of Backward Areas (1981)

Methodology to identify Backward taluks in Karnataka (About 137 taluks)

Backward Regions Grant Fund, Programme Guidelines, Ministry of Panchyati Raj

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