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Sustainable Development Goals: India is ahead of all countries in the income group in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Here is an overview

The Covid-19 pandemic has wiped out two years of economic development. It has also made it difficult for countries around the world to adhere to the targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The world has pledged to, among other things, end extreme poverty, ensure universal health care and education for all children by 2030.

However, estimates from a study by the United Nations University in Helsinki, Finland, show that global poverty may be increasing for the first time since 1990. But care should be taken with these figures, as it is mainly the vulnerable population that would have fallen below the poverty line. poverty line – those just above the poverty line and vulnerable to events. Households just below the poverty line rise once the economy recovers.

So far, yet so close

2023 is right in the middle of the 2016-30 global SDG targets. However, the world is far from halfway when it comes to goals. Current trends, even before Covid, suggest that the world will only meet its 2030 goals half a century behind, in 2078. Low-income countries are even further behind. Based on their limited progress in the 2015-19 period, before Covid hit, they won’t achieve their sustainability goals until the 22nd century. High-income countries have made very little progress and, on current trends, will only reach their 2030 targets in the second half of the next century.

Although India is also behind on the SDG targets, it is still an outlier when it comes to performance on the 2030 targets. With the current pace, India is well ahead of any income group. It would reach its 2030 targets in 2059.

This analysis is entirely based on the SDG index developed by Jeffery Sachs et al. Here it is also clear that India has overtaken (whether in the period 2000-21, 2015-21 or 2015-19) low income countries, lower middle income countries, upper middle income countries , high-income countries, and the world. The SDG Index score improved by 4.0 points between 2015 and 2019, which is higher than all country groups and all other G20 countries. India’s attempts to maintain the momentum of the SDGs may be a lesson for many lower-middle-income and even high-income countries.

Regardless, India still ranks 121st on this SDG index. The quest to SDG is a work in progress. NITI Aayog also tracks India’s progress on the SDGs. However, the latest data available is from 2020. Covid has delayed both data collection and dissemination. It must be resumed immediately. A prerequisite for evidence-based policy making is the timely availability of accurate and up-to-date data.

According to NITI Aayog’s 2020-21 SDG Index, India did not perform very well on goals such as zero hunger (SDG Index score 47), gender equality (48) , climate action (54) and industry, innovation and infrastructure (55) . For something like zero hunger, there would have been significant improvements in SDG scores over the past two years. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) responded to the needs of poor and vulnerable populations by providing them with free food grains. GoI’s total expenditure on PM-GKAY is said to be nearly ₹3.40 lakh crore by the end of September 2022 since its inception in 2020.

Although there are some issues with the indicators used to assess progress on the SDGs, it gives an understanding of intra-Indian performance variability on various development indicators. Rankings show which states are lowering the overall ranking. This varies by indicator, but there are few states that do not score well on all indicators.

States Drag Act

Major states that are below the national SDG score are Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Unfortunately, the gradual annual increase in SDG scores is also miniscule in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Odisha. Since the states that are not performing well are also the most populous states in the country, any improvement or deterioration in their performance on the SDGs has a significant impact on the country’s performance on the SDGs. It is worth mentioning that states like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttarakhand pull the national average. Other states can learn from it.

There must have been some regression in SDG scores due to Covid. For example, performance on the quality of education would suffer. According to the Union Ministry of Education National Achievement Survey, a gradual decline in learning levels in all areas has been observed. 85% of class 8 students, even in a city like Chandigarh, found it difficult to access online lessons due to the non-availability of any digital device. The disparity becomes glaring when one leaves the cities for the rural areas.

While the ministry has offered an alternative program, Swayam Prabha and PM e-Vidya portal and broadcast of lectures on satellite TV, it cannot replace classroom learning. Much will have to be done to compensate for the damage caused to the levels of learning, in particular at the primary and secondary levels. Learning loss during the formative years tends to affect economic outcomes in the future.