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Barriers between aspiration and transformation: A closer look at Kondagaon

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In this paper, we aim to highlight key challenges across development indicators of health and education in Kondagaon, one of India’s 112 aspirational districts. Our findings and recommendations are informed by secondary research on available government data (NITI Aayog reports, census, data from District Administration of Kondagaon, etc.). The paper is an analysis of key government schemes and grassroots insights from government officials working in the district; and provides suggestions for improvement of government’s service delivery in the district.

Executive summary

Launched by the Hon’ble PM in January 2018 and anchored by the NITI Aayog, the Aspirational Districts Programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts across the country. With states as the main drivers, this program focuses on strengthening districts, identifying low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, and measuring progress by ranking districts on a monthly basis. The ranking is based on the incremental progress made across 49 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) under 5 broad socio-economic themes - Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development and Infrastructure1. These districts have been identified on the basis of a composite index, consisting of the challenges faced by the districts in terms of poverty of their citizens, relatively poor health and nutrition, education status and deficient infrastructure. These also include 35 districts affected by Left Wing Extremism, selected by the Ministry of Home Affairs2. The Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh is one of them (3).

One of the objectives of NITI Aayog is to pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress. It aims to reduce inter and intra-state disparities by encouraging healthy competition, with handholding support from the centre and state.

The Aspirational Districts Programme has resulted in sectoral growth and improvements in governance and administration: the set of predetermined indicators provided by the programme has helped focus on specific targets and sectors instead of broad, high-level government schemes or new initiatives as in the case of previous programmes (4).

Kondagaon district

Kondagaon is located in the Southern part of Chhattisgarh State on the Northern Bastar Plateau5. It is one of the 10 Aspirational Districts of Chhattisgarh. Most of the households are completely dependent on Forest and Agriculture for their livelihood. The district comprises 576 villages in 383 gram panchayats across 5 blocks; has a population of ~580,000, with a majority of the population being Scheduled Tribes (70%), rural (90%), and a population density of 114 per sq. km. The literacy rate of the district is 86.03%. Lack of industries has made it a difficult scenario in terms of livelihood generation which has potentially resulted in majority of the population living under the poverty line (83.7%) (6).

Kondagaon is also prone to violence. The district has witnessed the deaths of several uniformed personnel and civilians from 2004-2017 (7). There have been instances of the martyrdom of police, firing on police vehicles and searching parties in 2019 and 2021 by armed- uniformed Naxals89. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India had classified Kondagaon amongst one of the 35 ‘Most Affected Left Wing Extremism Districts’ of India, till 2021. However, in June 2021, Kondagaon was moved to the category of ‘Districts of Concern’ owing to the reduction in violent activities.

Performance across key indicators

We selected metrics of health (nutrition and mental health) and education because of the key role they play in human development. Strong education and health systems are vital to economic growth and prosperity. Moreover, the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by member states of the United Nations are evidence of an international consensus regarding human development: Goal 3 and Goal 4 relate to health and education respectively10. There is a relationship between both of these indicators as: Interactions between education and health can promote virtuous development spirals. Good health boosts school attendance and improves learning. Good education, particularly of mothers, boosts child health, the effects of which can last into adulthood (8).

With regard to the district, although at an aggregate level there has been improvement (it was one of the top 5 ranking districts in May 2019 (11) as per Niti Aayog’s delta ranking of aspirational districts), there is significant scope of improvement across these metrics.

  • Health (As of 2022, Kondagaon ranks 63 out of 112 districts12 in health and nutrition): Under health & nutrition, we analyse the key issues along with potential solutions to alleviate these problems.

  1. High incidence of anaemia

  2. Lack of access to nutritious food

  3. Intricacies of Tribal Culture/Naxalism

  4. Hesitancy towards adoption of modern health recommendations

  • Education (As of 2022, Kondagaon ranks 38 out of 112 districts13 in education, at a score of 36.8, relative to a T-1 score of 37.2): Main issue faced under education is the lack of effective implementation of the Right to Education Act. According to our research, some of the reasons are-

  1. Lack of financial security

  2. Lack of parental involvement

  3. Issues in accessing schools due to lack of transport and sparse population

  4. Reservation not inclusive for children with special needs

  • Mental health: Under mental health, we analyse some of the issues faced and find solutions to overcome them. Some of the issues faced are-

  1. Shortage of qualified HR

  2. Lack of budget allotment for operational cost of the program

  3. Lack of sufficient data available that can be accessed by the public

  4. No indicators to monitor the impact of the policy

This shows the high incidence of malnutrition, poor mental health, and education enrolment in Kondagaon.


Government has taken steps but the current status of these metrics suggest more could be done.

At an overall level, our recommendations across the metrics:

- Building more community centric, inclusive interventions: Existing schemes and programs often tend to follow a bottom-up approach. There is also scope for collaboration between public and private actors (such as NGOs, CSR arms of corporate bodies) which can help expand outreach, build more community engagement, and create more sustainable outcomes in the long run.

- Improving capacity and capabilities of state workers in the field: There is a dearth of grassroots workers. For example, no psychiatrist, etc. In cases where there are ASHA and Anganwadi workers, they often lack adequate training. Even in schools, teachers lack proper training, which can affect the quality of education.

Assessing our recommendations across factors of impact and feasibility, we categorise them in a 2x2 Impact-Feasibility matrix

A deeper dive into key issue areas


Health and development are intimately interconnected. Meeting primary health care needs and the nutritional requirements of citizens, especially children, is fundamental to aspects of education, productive employment, and a more resilient population.

In line with this, we refer to nutritional status of children & prevalence of Anaemia as a litmus for the health and overall well being of the district.

  • Nutritional status of children: Anthropometric measurements such as that of height and weight to assess growth and development, particularly in young children, are the most widely used indicators of nutritional status. The percentage of low height-for-age (stunting) reflects the cumulative effects of under-nutrition and infections since birth, and even before birth. This measure, therefore, should be interpreted as an indication of poor environmental conditions and/or long term chronic restriction of a child's growth potential. The purpose of this indicator is to measure long term nutritional imbalance and malnutrition resulting in undernutrition (assessed by underweight and stunting) and overweight. Kondagaon records a higher rate of children suffering from stunting, being underweight and malnutrition than the state and even the country average. To put things into perspective, around 51% of the children in Kondagaon are underweight when compared to Chhattisgarh and India that have 38% and 36% of underweight children respectively. Collating the results for Stunting, Low Weight-for-Age & Malnutrition, Kondagaon performs worse by 8.75% points & 9.75% points compared to the state & country averages respectively.

  • Anaemia: Anaemia during childhood adversely affects mental, physical and social development of the children in short- and long-term outcome; it causes abnormalities of immune function, and other serious conditions such as poor motor and cognitive development, thereby decreasing earning potentials and negatively affecting national economic growth. According to WHO, the most common causes of anaemia include nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron deficiency, vitamins B12 and Vitamin A as well. For example, around 68% of women in Kondagaon are anaemic when compared to Chhattisgarh and India, where prevalence of anaemia in women hovers at the 47% and 53% mark respectively. Putting together the results for anaemia in men, women & children combined, Kondagaon performs worse by 18.25% points and 10.25% points compared to the state & country averages respectively.

Kondagaon performs on a subpar level than the state average as well as the national average on the 2 indicators that we're utilising to understand the condition of overall health and wellbeing in this aspirational district of Chhattisgarh.

Possible causes of malnutrition include:

  • Lack of access to nutritious food: Around 65% of the population in Chhattisgarh lacks access to nutritious food. This is one of the major contributors to such high levels of malnutrition and anaemia in the district and can possibly occur due to several factors:

    • Food insecurity: Lack of livelihood opportunities has a significant impact on nutrition as impoverished populations in the district cannot afford nutritious meals. This puts them, especially women and children at greater risk of malnutrition, anaemia, and other infectious diseases. Further, children who lack access to required nutrients fall sick more often and earn less as adults, effectively keeping them trapped in poverty. Early childhood malnutrition increases the risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease in adult life, the experts concurred. In addition, stunted mothers face complications during pregnancy which affects their children.

    • Hidden Hunger: The data collected in NFHS14 2019-21 showed that among all age groups, the highest spike in anaemia was reported among children aged 6-59 months — 67.1 per cent (NFHS-5) from 58.6 per cent (NFHS-4, 2015-16). In spite of implementation of nutritional schemes such as POSHAN Abhiyaan (central government's scheme aimed at improving nutrition for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers), the increase of prevalence of Anaemia, points to a possible cause of Hidden Hunger. Hidden hunger is the absence of multiple micronutrients (particularly iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin A). This can occur without a deficit in energy intake as a result of consuming an energy-dense, but nutrient-poor diet. Although no specific data has been recorded for the Kondagaon district, it is recommended that the government should include this tracking metric into the NFHS surveys as well.

Source: transform Rural India

There are some cultural challenges unique to the region that could further exacerbate malnutrition.

  • Naxalism: The Naxal conflict has extensively affected forest produce market and agriculture in Chhattisgarh. Economic, social, developmental and strategic costs of Naxal conflict are too substantial to be ignored. The ground reality is that when there is a culture of fear, insecurity & violence, the most well intentioned of the Government schemes fall flat on the face because of the perceived threats by the residents of the districts. A lot of health policies do not end up getting implemented because it cannot be done by the government officials; it has to be the anganwadi & Asha workers.

  • Intricacies of tribal culture: Tribal women in Kondagaon who consume minimal protein and calories are more likely to give birth to a low-birth-weight baby. Although malnutrition affects all segments of society, poor nutrition in females begins in infancy and continues throughout age. The reasons for malnutrition in these places are mostly due to a lack of availability of good nutritious food, with the underlying element being a lack of a proper livelihood and adequate understanding of healthy mother care. In this context, the Tribal people value their culture immensely as it acts as a source of strength and dignity for their community, and any solutions not in-line with existing social customs are met with hesitancy.

  • Hesitancy towards adoption of modern health recommendations: Communities in remote areas often also lack access to modern health practices. To further research on this, a focus group discussion (FGD) was held with SHG members, AWW workers (15), and ASHA workers (16) from these three villages. One of the key findings was that many moms in these communities feed their infants only with breast milk and nothing else for up to 1.5 years, which is unhealthy and causes malnutrition in the kid. If we look at the standard healthy practice, the period for exclusive breastfeeding should be up to 6 months & after that, a supplementary diet should be started to prevent Protein Energy Malnutrition(PEM). Some mothers are unable to take care of their children because they must work, so they send their children to neighbours or leave their 1-2 year old children at home, and as a result, they are not properly feeding their children.


Under the Right to Education Act Section 12(1)(c) (17) 25% of seats in the elementary classes of all private schools in Chhattisgarh have been reserved for the children from economically weaker and socially disadvantaged sections. Through the Act, children from different sections of society study and interact with each other from an early age, thereby moving towards a more inclusive and equitable society. Under this provision, more than 3 lakh children have been admitted to the 6500+ private schools in Chhattisgarh.

In this section, we aim to understand the performance of the district in the field of education and the barriers faced by children in effective implementation of the Right to Education Act in Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh.

Key Issues:

  • Lack of financial security: According to the district OOSC (18) data, 94.5% of students who dropped out of school wanted to study further and 95% of them wanted financial assistance to pursue them. This indicates that children drop out to contribute to household income in situations where one or both parents are daily wage earners with low wages, no job stability, and no social or financial support mechanisms. Students have been observed missing school during the labour-intensive sowing and harvesting seasons (19) to assist their families with field-related work.

Source:Kondagaon district OOSC data

  • Difficulty in attending school due to domestic responsibilities: Due to parental preoccupation with income generation activities, there is a dependency on children to assist with various household tasks like collecting firewood, grazing cattle, and caring for younger siblings (20). According to the sources, the majority of the parents are engaged in farming during rainy seasons and for the rest of the year, it is both farming and casual labour. The lack of income leads to absenteeism from the school and, over time, disengagement from academic activities as well because children are forced to substitute their parents in household activities. According to a report by Indus action on the 10 years of RTE 12(1)(c) in Chhattisgarh, one of the reasons for drop-out in girls has been to take care of the household chores right from fetching water & wood to cooking & taking care of younger siblings, while parents are away at work. Boys generally work with their parents in construction sites and fields.

  • Lack of Parental involvement: As a result of their job schedules, parents do not have time to check their children’s homework, pay attention to how the child is studying in school, or take an active interest in their child’s school life. Even though parents want to help their children cope with school pressures and participate actively in their education, they are unable to do so because they are illiterate themselves and their rigorous work schedules prevent them from doing so. It has been noted that many children drop out because their parents go to work in the morning and there is no one at home to check on them or push them to go to school. It is also observed that in a few cases, parent’s drug and alcohol addictions were creating an unsupportive environment at home.

  • Issues in accessing schools due to lack of transport and sparse population: Distance between school and home is widening.According to RTE distance norms primary school should be within one kilometere and an upper primary school within three kilometeres. If schools are far away from home, then there are no proper transportation facilities because Chhattisgarh doesn’t have any state transport corporation providing public transport, making it cumbersome for students to reach schools. The problem widens as the population density is less and villages are sparsely populated. Distance of secondary schools are more- In the Kondagaon district, only 63 schools are secondary out of a total of 840 schools. The residential ashram schools programme that aims at tackling this issue has its own drawback of children losing touch with their roots, falling out of track due the difference in modern schooling and traditional tribal way of living.

  • Inadequate school infrastructure: Children do not have access to proper digital services that have been primarily essential in the pandemic. Teaching facilities such as computers, training aids, internet connection are not as per the needs, thus causing problems in learning. Some schools still lack sanitation facilities such as separate functional toilets for boys and girls, functional drinking water facility and hand wash facilities. According to a report of 2019, 42 schools in Kondagaon did not have facilities for toilets. This widens the gap of education and leads to dropping out of school.

  • Caste and gender-based discrimination: Amongst the district’s Out of School Children,72% belong to the SC/ST community (21).In Kondagaon district, the majority of students dropping out belong to ST. Teachers often tend to exhibit biases towards particular groups from the community. It was reported that such discrimination was targeted at SC students, ST students, OBC students or girls (22). There are also caste-wise differences in enrolment ratio, according to a 2018 MHRD report. Children from SCs and STs having a lower enrolment ratio at the primary school level as compared to the national average (23).

Source: Kondagaon District OOSC report

  • Reservations not inclusive for Children with Special Needs (CWSN) and non-binary communities:

According to a report by the Kondagaon district administration, there are 1786 children with special needs in the district across five blocks, out of which 1452 are primary children. In order to ensure education for all, it is important to create a level playing field for children with disabilities in order to ensure that they are able to access the Right to education (RTE) in the same form and manner as all the other children.

Under the current government programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the district is making efforts to make education available to children with special needs. However,the major problem witnessed is unavailability of trained teachers and funding for teaching equipment (24).

Often, under 1 teacher there are 100s of children. Currently, there are 7 Block Resource Persons (BRPs) in the district responsible for rehabilitation and therapy for children. On an average each BRP has to attend 200 children in a month. As children are spread across the region it becomes a tedious task to provide regular training and therapies to children.

The lack of transportation and no nearby centres for all to meet makes it important to visit the children door to door; however, this leads to irregular training and discontinuity in a child’s education. Many schools do not have infrastructural amenities like ramps and toilets for CWSN (25).

Mental health

Mental health disorder refers to a wide range of mental health conditions - disorders that affect a person’s mood, thinking and behaviour (26) Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours. According to the WHO, at least one in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental health disorder (27). By 2030, the mental health crisis is estimated to cost India a trillion dollars in productivity losses (28). To combat the rising incidence of mental health issues in the country, the Govt. of India launched the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) in 1982. The District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) was launched under the NMHP in 1996. It was based on the community model of mental health that was successfully piloted in Bellary, popularly known as the “Bellary model” (29). Under this model, short term training was imparted to general physicians at the grassroot level to identify and treat prevalent mental illnesses with the aid of a limited number of drugs.

Kondagaon district has also a long history of Left Wing Extremism (LWE). The continuing series of violence, abuse, lack of basic facilities and threat of displacement has a devastating impact on the mental health of residents, who are mostly rural and poor (30).

Lastly, unlike status on malnutrition, there is no government database or portal that tracks the incidence of mental disorders (31). Even the ones present are not accessible by the public. There are certain headways being made here, with the Samvedna project started in April 2021 in the district.

Being an aspirational district, Kondagaon is one of the select districts in the country where the (DMHP) is being run on a mission mode. The core of DMHP includes 3 key components: Early detection & treatment; Developing awareness, improving infrastructure and capacity building; and Monitoring and Evaluation. However, there are several barriers to effective implementation of DMHP in the district.

  • Inadequate budget allocation: Budget allocation (see Fig 3.1) is mainly for community awareness activities, travel and training of staff. However, no amount has been earmarked for development of infrastructure, operational expenses and other activities of the district counselling centre. Similarly, no allocation has been made for a crisis helpline (generally outsourced to NGOs or psychology dept.), which is a crucial component of treatment of patients, and essential for tangible outcomes. Further, no financial support has been provided for treatment of disorders and therapy, and planning of targeted interventions. These components are essential aspects for holistic implementation of the NMHP.

Fig. 3.1 Budget allocation for Mental Health 2019-20

  • Insufficient human resource and capacity: There is a lack of qualified medical practitioners in the district and presence of uncertified quacks & healers. Critical posts of Medical Officer, community health worker and Psychiatrist remain vacant in the district. At the time of writing this paper, no position for nurses was approved against a cumulative requirement of 28 nurses in the CHC/PHCs and 1 Psychiatrist in the District Hospital. These posts are recommended under the National Mental Health Act and are crucial for identification and treatment of the Mental Health patients. (see Appendix).

  • Policy gaps: National Mental Health policy 2014 is the latest policy that guides government interventions on mental health. The policy envisions universal access to mental healthcare, community participation and capacity building. However, the policy does not have any tool for impact measurement and outcomes monitoring. The district reports the number of patients diagnosed with different mental illnesses and follow ups conducted.

  • Social stigma and dependency on local healers : Not unique to the region, there continues to be social stigma around mental health. There is also a high dependency on local healers (those who are not certified in modern medicine) . Some anecdotal instances of this stigma and consequent lack of treatment and awareness is highlighted below:

- Case 1: 30 year old Bhagmati Koreti, hailing from a neighbouring district, was found on the road, homeless, in Kondagaon, suffering from Psychosis NOS. Her extended family made her sign a property transfer document and abandoned her on the roads. Bhagmati’s family had turned their backs on her hallucinations and catatonic behaviours. She was rescued & now resides in the Half Way Home established by the district administration, Kondagaon.

- Case 2: “I like to stay here. It is free here!” lamented Sanjay Manikpuri as he remembered his solitude in a lonely room with his hands, legs and neck being chained by his family members. This 25 year old is now being rehabilitated in the HalfWay home in Kondagaon after he was discharged from the Mental Hospital, Sendri post 4 months of treatment. His family was clueless about how to deal with his Schizophrenia and perception disorder leading to his violent behaviour.


Short-term solutions

These are solutions that could be implemented in the long run by both public and private sector actors.

  • Nutrition:

    • Enhance implementation of existing policies: The Chhattisgarh government has introduced several schemes and tracking mechanisms to monitor health and nutrition metrics in the state. Two of such systems are Nangat Pila (a mobile based application that tracks metrics such as weight,age and supplementary nutrition) and the Maya Mandai (a database tracking services delivered during VHSND: village health sanitation nutrition day). While these have been helpful, there is significant potential for improvement:

      • Additional monitoring indicators (such as Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Waist to Hip Ratio) can be added to the Nangat Pila app. Fortnightly reviews of these metrics at the block level is also recommended to make necessary modifications to further strengthen the reach of the scheme.

  • Craft more inclusive policies and interventions: For programs like Maya Mandai, the biggest challenge is a gap in communication between health workers who may lack adequate training and expertise, and communities who are the target beneficiaries of such schemes. These gaps, when left unaddressed, furthers the lack of awareness of such schemes and at some extremes, even distrust towards the government. ASHA workers have traditionally been compensated very well, but the vision of spreading awareness and knowledge about Maya Mandai’s basic idea & taking it to the masses has not materialized yet. Efforts need to be made on improving the quality of this quarterly training content, keeping in mind the capability of the learner to absorb the content that is being taught. Traditionally, such training has been happening 4 times a year (32). The teaching content to be delivered during this training shall be crafted to facilitate easy understanding and the trainers’ agenda should be to provide technical on-ground knowledge to these ASHA workers which will help in improving their ability to communicate with and serve the communities.

  1. On the citizens’ front, rallies & camps can be organized in each panchayat to drive visibility on the grassroot level by informing villagers about the scheme, demystifying rudimentary beliefs & superstitions, and addressing distrust among citizens regarding the government schemes

  2. It is also necessary to create space for dialogue and to empower citizens to raise their concerns. This can lead to more collaborative, bottom-up policies that incorporate the interests and voices of those who are most affected by them.

  3. Explore partnerships with other NGOs & private players: Cross collaboration between state/ district administration & NGOs can increase outreach of such schemes. With support from local community-based organizations operating in this domain, Anganwadi, ASHA and other front-line workers can be trained more effectively on identifying signs of acute malnutrition in children, taking corrective action, maternal and child nutrition and sanitation.

  • Education:

  • Involve parents in their child’s education by conducting regular incentivised parent-teacher interactions: Parental involvement is critical. While creating a discipline of regular parent-teacher meeting is essential part of school curriculum, it has its own roadblocks.Most parents in Kondagaon are daily wage labourers who cannot afford to take a day off from work to attend school. A lot of children are first generation in their family to be attending schools. A plan to incentivise parents for attending school meetings should be implemented across government schools. This will not only give them information about their children's progress, but it will also motivate and inform them about the importance of education to their children, increasing their involvement in their children's studies.

  • Making education more inclusive for children with special needs in the following ways-

  1. Provide aid and appliance in partnership with private sector actors:- Governments and local authorities should take specific measures to facilitate inclusive education, which include providing books, other learning materials and appropriate assistive devices to students with benchmark disabilities free of cost, up to the age of eighteen years. One way to clear the roadblock of insufficient funds for teaching equipment can be by making active use of CSR initiatives. The administration should take active support of companies to leverage their CSR funds. Companies like Jindal steel and Power have served 4900 children with special needs under their flagship CSR programme “Asha-the Hope”33. A collaborative deal with such companies potentially reduces the burden of funding.

  2. Teacher training and upskilling- There is a need for intensive teacher training to sensitize regular teachers on effective classroom management for CWSN. There should be an adequate number of teacher training employ teachers, including teachers with disabilities, who are qualified in sign language and Braille and those trained in teaching children with intellectual disabilities.RTE further mandates the training of professionals and staff to support inclusive education at all levels of school education.

  • Mental health:

    • Integrate mental health indicators into the monitorable indicators for the aspirational districts program: The aspirational districts’ progress in health and nutrition is monitored through a set of 31 indicators. While the indicators range from maternal health, child nutrition to TB case rate, there is no indicator tracking mental health related parameters.

    • Greater budget outlays for capacity building of mental healthcare professionals: The total budget allocation for DMHP in 2019-20 and in 2020-21 was less than 10 lakh rupees. This is inadequate to meet the objectives of DMHP for the district, especially upgradation of infrastructure and training of mental health professionals in the district.

Solutions that can be considered in the long-term

While there are certain short-term solutions to improving the status of indicators in the district, there is a high need for solutions that can not only deliver benefits to the communities but also empower them in the long-run. Our key recommendations along these indicators include:

  • Nutrition:

    • Address hidden hunger by enhancing crop quality & soil health: To address hidden hunger, the direct correlating factors of crop quality and soil health need to be addressed. Sustainable Food Systems, as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), are an effort in improving the organic content of the soil along with improving the economic output of the local farms. By producing nutrient rich foods such as millets, which provide more nutrient value per 100g than locally grown crops, sourced directly from the local forests, Kondagaon district has the potential to become self-sufficient through setting up of broad Sustainable Food Systems solutions.

    • Promote agroforestry as a livelihood opportunity34: Implementation of schemes in resource constrained areas such as Kondagaon need to be as comprehensive as possible. A specific form of Sustainable Food System is Agroforestry, which is seen as a low skill, high output solution addressing concerns at the intersection of ecology & economics. Kondagaon district is already known to produce high quality timber35. Timber is a high value export commodity which is suitable to be grown in the climatic and soil conditions of Kondagaon district. We recommend scaling up of existing Timber forests in Kondagaon and setting up of high value agro-forests similar to the timber genus-family, such as teak and rosewood.

    • Leverage agritech: The utilization of modern agritech practices combined with traditional farm practices local to the region can improve the organic content in the soil and soil health of Kondagaon. Use of Internet of Things, Robotics, satellite imagery and geospatial data can prove to be a highly effective solution in the step towards increasing productivity through farm automation, while use of genetically modified crop varieties can directly improve yields. Implementation of such solutions can be a source of high nutrition food for locals of Kondagaon along with proving to be a source of economic strength for the regional economy. With sufficient policy incentives, Kondagaon can be made an attractive option for Agritech startups to deploy such solutions.

  • Education:

  • Community integrated initiative for greater parental involvement: Local issues, local problems and local management can be handled effectively by local people by making them part of the community. One such way is to have a Village Education Committee(VEC), which plays a major role in bringing the positive attitudinal change in people towards education and in mobilising the community and motivating parents to send their children to schools, especially girls and children from disadvantaged groups. In Chhattisgarh, VECs are on paper but not on ground. Its role is to create a link between school and community and to create awareness about the importance of a formal education. VECs help in understanding the local problem of parents and students and suggest ways for involvement of parents in school activities. Communitisation of education will not just allow greater involvement of parents but also solve for the lack of tribal connect faced by students through modern schooling and residential school programmes. The powers of administration are with the village education committee.By incorporating policies like No work,No Pay teachers will also attend classes more regularly and refrain from sending proxy teachers.The state of Nagaland(also largely populated by tribals) has immensely benefited from the programme.

  • Enhancing accessibility to schools while maintaining their connection with tribal culture : Residential ashram schools are an effective way of tackling the accessibility issue. As we discussed, it has a drawback of children losing touch with their roots. In order to solve these problems, the modern education curriculum should include a strong component of culture inculcation of values. Learning materials should be prepared keeping in view the socio-cultural and economic situations of tribal people. In order to remove the language barrier and embrace cultural sensitivity of the students, there should be the establishment of a multilingual language laboratory and employment of tribal teachers by Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). There should be local games and activities every twice a week, so that students do not lose touch with their roots. It is high time that schools explore folklore in primary education, which would help tap tribals’ rich tradition in arts, crafts, music, songs, fables, etc. We should take inspiration from indigenous institutions such as Ghotul in Bastar,Dhumkuria and Dangribasa in Jharkhand and Odisha where older Muria Gond children educate youngsters through a work-play continuum and a sophisticated etiquette of passing on knowledge orally. Children learn countless skills, while sharing myths, riddles, songs, dances, and an ethics based on values of sharing rather than competition.

  • Some other long term solutions ato make education inclusive for children with special needs are:

    • Mobile learning facilities- There should be transport facilities for children with disabilities who have high support needs and to their attendants. The Central RTE Rules require the appropriate government or the local authority to make appropriate and safe transportation arrangements for children with disabilities to enable them to attend school and complete elementary education. However,when children can’t attend schools due to transportation issues, schools can. One of the ways of achieving this is adopting a model similar to Kalam Express,an initiative by the district administration of Panchkula.In this project a bus was given as an example of CSR by the State Bank of India Chandigarh.The bus has been fixed with facilities like physiotherapy equipments,mini library, toys and a television with animated children films with learning tools uploaded on it. A physiotherapist and a special teacher go along in the bus on a predetermined route chart. A special teacher provides learning kits that remain in the bus when CWSN is there or can be taken to the houses of the CWSN. Kondagaon has an ongoing programme of Chirayu Yojana that is a mobile unit van going door to door to look after medical needs of CWSN. Integrating education into this bus initiative to create a system like Kalam Express can help CWSN in the district get access to education and save costs for the government.Involving use of internet facilities in the bus can ensure online therapy sessions for children as well, reducing burden of one block trainer.

    • Infrastructure- The architectural barriers in schools should be removed for easy access and to promote inclusion of CWSN. Furthermore, efforts should be taken to provide all kinds of disabled-friendly facilities in schools and educational institutions including not only ramps but also accessible classrooms, toilets, playgrounds, laboratories etc. Kondagaon district can further work on building a residential school for CWSN. An example of such school is Saksham school run within the Education City in Dantewada. This school caters to around 170 students who are taught by specially trained teachers. Samvedna-The School For Mentally Handicapped in Raipur is another prominent example. The primary objective of the school is to provide the most appropriate special education services (free of cost) to children and youth with mental retardation and associated disabilities. The school also offers home and center based special education and rehabilitation services to children and youth with mental retardation with parental involvement.

Mental Health:

  • Develop community centric approaches that can evolve into community-driven models: Use community leaders, ASHA workers to build awareness on depression, stress and other mental health issues, especially among women.

    • Case study of Maa Danteshwari hospital, Gadchiroli (36): This hospital modeled its design and functioning to respond to the cultural sensitivities of the local tribal community. For instance, the doctors here do not wear “inauspicious” white robes that symbolizes death, the inpatients are allowed to stay with family members in specially designed huts modelling a tribal home, and the visitors are greeted by a shrine of local deity whose blessings are essential for healing.

    • Organizations like the Mariwala Health Initiative has evolved a de-institutionalised mental healthcare ecosystem where services and support are provided by not just experts, but also by trained individuals from within the community (37).

Meet The Thought Leaders

Shatakshi Sharma has been a management consultant with BCG and is Co- Founder of Global Governance Initiative with national facilitation of award- Economic Times The Most Promising Women Leader Award, 2021 and Linkedin Top Voice, 2021.

Prior to graduate school at ISB, she was Strategic Advisor with the Government of India where she drove good governance initiatives. She was also felicitated with a National Young Achiever Award for Nation Building. She is a part time blogger on her famous series-MBA in 2 minutes.

Naman Shrivastava is the Co-Founder of Global Governance Initiative. He has previously worked as a Strategy Consultant in the Government of India and is working at the United Nations - Office of Internal Oversight Services. Naman is also a recipient of the prestigious Harry Ratliffe Memorial Prize - awarded by the Fletcher Alumni of Color Executive Board. He has been part of speaking engagements at International forums such as the World Economic Forum, UN South-South Cooperation etc. His experience has been at the intersection of Management Consulting, Political Consulting, and Social entrepreneurship.

Laboni Singh is a mentor at GGI and is currently working at The Bridgespan Group as an Associate Consultant. She takes keen interest in socioeconomic development issues, public policy, and equity across different vectors of gender, caste, class, and ability, which in turn fuelled her transition from working at a global bank to the social sector. She is an Urban Fellow from the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore and has a bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.

Meet The Authors (GGI Fellows)

Rhythm Vijayvargiya is a consultant at Deloitte working at the intersection of emerging technology solutions and financial services, where he has been recognized for his consistent stellar performances on client engagements. He is also a 2-time recipient of the prestigious DAAD scholarship, awarded by the Federal Government of Germany to carry out scientific research in leading German universities, such as TU Munich and FSU Jena. Innately curious, he is fascinated by anything that works well and hopes to solve the big problems in the world through his career. Outside of work, he is usually found exploring Spirituality & Yoga and preparing for the next marathon.

Siona comes from Vasai, a town located in the suburbs of Mumbai. Living in a semi-urban setting has shaped her personality with a perfect balance of modern and traditional values and mindsets. After graduating in Physics from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai she shifted to Delhi to prepare for the Indian Civil Services Exam. Post that, she joined, Teach For India which gave her the chance to apply her theoretical learnings, practically. She loves traveling and exploring people and their stories. The adventure seeker in her landed her an internship in Sukma followed by the position of Aspirational District Fellow there. She has explored the interior Left Wing Extremism affected villages of Sukma. It has let her closely experience and understand the functioning of the Government System in a Left Wing Extremism affected area, with special engagement with Health, Education, Panchayat, and Woman & Child Development Departments. Currently, she works as a District Project Manager with the District Administration of Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh. She is leading the district's projects in the sectors of Art & Culture, Mental Health, and Village health services.

Jyothir Ghosh is an engineer turned public policy enthusiast. He is currently working as a strategic advisor to the Govt of India, specializing in the livelihoods sector. Prior to this, he had worked as a forecasting analyst, handling a billion-dollar product portfolio for a European pharmaceutical company. He has a deep interest in public policy and has also prepared policy briefs for the office of a Member of Parliament. When not working, you may find him with a book in hand, watching a Formula-1 race, or scrolling through Netflix.

Yash Garg is a Chemical Engineering Junior at Delhi Technological University. Last year, he interned at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode in order to strengthen his background in the field of Marketing & Brand Perception. He also started a YouTube channel where he created videos for high school and college students during the Covid-19 lockdown. His channel currently ranks among the country's Top-10 Educational YouTube Channels being run by an independent creator. Previously, he has also collaborated with Unacademy to help students deal with mental health issues and promote their overall well-being. Yash has always been very passionate about enabling access to collaborative education for all and after graduating, he aspires to scale his vision of building a more equanimous, informed & aspiring youth. When he's not working, you'll find him reading books, debating on the current equity markets, or pursuing his childhood passion for numismatics.

Sneha is an Economics Honours graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce. After graduating, she worked at a software consulting firm, Nimbus Systems Pvt Ltd, as a Functional Consultant where she also completed the MB-310 Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance certification. She had previously interned at the Ministry of Finance, EY, and Bank of Baroda where she got an opportunity to expand her skills in the economics, finance, and research field. Currently, she is working as an Analyst at Dhwani Rural Information System where she is pursuing her interest in working in the development sector. She is passionate about creating an impact in society and hopes to make it a reality one day. In her free time, you can find her reading about the power of manifestation and dancing her heart out!

Prachi is a final year undergraduate student pursuing Btech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from VIT Vellore. She describes herself as a multifaceted person with varied interests such as technology, business and philanthropy. Alongside college, she is currently working with ZS Associates as a Decision Analytics Associate-Intern. She is extremely fond of performing arts. In her offline college days, you would often find her dancing or anchoring on stage. She is also currently leading a non-profit initiative, Project Neysa that provides accessible performing arts education to the underprivileged.

If you are interested in applying to GGI's Impact Fellowship, you can access our application link here.


Appendix 1: Malnutrition Classification

Appendix 2: Staffing in mental health

Table-1. Details of Staff approved for a DMHP District – Kondagaon

Table – 2 Details of Staff approved at CHC/Taluk level

Table – 3 Details of Staff approved at PHC level

Table – 4 Details of nurse approved at CHC/PHC


4 Aspirational Districts Programme: An Appraisal, United Nations Development Programme

5 Kondagaon was separated from Bastar district on 24 January 2012 and formed as the 27th district of Chhattisgarh state

6 Project Proposal/ Plan Of Action (POA) under Aspirational Districts Programme- Upgrading 100 AWCs to Model AWCs.

8 Incidents of Naxals burning of 3 and 17 vehicles involved in road construction, in 2017 and 2021 respectively; killing a villager in the name of police informer have taken place in Kondagaon

9 Report on Naxal Incidents- Office of Superintendent of Police, Kondagaon.

14 National Family Health Survey

15 Anganwadi Workers are in charge of maintaining the local child & mother care centre set up by ICDS.

16 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) constituted by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are involved in primary healthcare and act as the first point of contact for poor women and children.

17 The Right to Education Act enacted on 4th August,2009 describes the importance of free and compulsory education for children between 6 to 14 years of age in India.

18 Out of School Children

19 Depends on what crops are grown by families. For example, kharif crops grown between August to December- leading to students from these households missing school.

20 file:///C:/Users/APOORV/Downloads/Consolidated%20Report%20June%202.pdf

21 Insight obtained from Kondagaon District Administration OOSC data

22 Insight obtained from a study on reasons of dropout at elementary level prepared by EY

23Given majority population is tribal belonging to SC/ST

24 Insights obtained from a report on 10 Years of RTE 12(1)(c) in Chhattisgarh by the Indus Action

25 According to the data available on

31 Health information is captured at the district level through DMHP team and shared with the State team. However, most of these databases are maintained manually with excel sheets.

32 Based on stakeholder input.

33 Currently action in Raigarh District in Chhattisgarh, Angul in Odisha, and Patratu in Jharkhand

34 Agroforestry solutions have the potential to create an impact across 3 key areas: A) Economic Impact: Setting up the practice of Agroforestry results in increased food supply, creations of Jobs/Incomes, increased financial prosperity for the entire ecosystem and additional stream of tax revenues for the local governments; B) Social Impact: A shared source of livelihood fosters a sense of community and contributes in creating a sense of belonging in the people; C) Environmental Impact: Soil health improves drastically when it is brought under vegetation. The increase in organic content helps in increasing water footprint, reducing carbon footprint, and promotes biodiversity.

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