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SDG India Index 2020-21: Significant progress

Context:

India saw significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health in 2020, according to the NITI Aayog’s 2020 SDG Index.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Government Policies & Interventions, Inclusive Growth & Development, Important Institutions and their reports, Co-operative Federalism, Issues Relating to Development)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Sustainable Development?
  2. India’s record in implementing Sustainable Development Goals
  3. Highlights of the NITI Aayog 2020 SDG Index

What is Sustainable Development?

  • Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
  • Three core elements of sustainable development are: Economic Growth, Social Inclusion and Environmental Protection.
  • Sustainable economic growth, achieving sustainable livelihood, living in harmony with nature and appropriate technology are important for sustainable development.

What are Sustainable Development Goals?

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an intergovernmental agreement formulated to act as post-2015 Development agenda to be achieved by 2030.
  • The SDGs are a set of seventeen pointer targets as proposed by the United Nation General Assembly’s Open Working Group, that all the countries which are members of the UN agreed to work upon for the better future of the country.

The 17 goals under the Sustainable Development Goals are:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all stages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Built resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequalities within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production pattern
  13. Take urgent actions to combat climate change and its impact
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.

India’s record in implementing Sustainable Development Goals

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) is being implemented to provide jobs to unskilled labourers and improve their living standards.
  • National Food Security Act is being enforced to provide subsidized food grains.
  • The government of India aims to make India open defecation free by the year 2019 under its flagship programme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Renewable energy generation targets have been set at 175 GW by 2022 to exploit solar energy, wind energy and other such renewable sources of energy efficiency and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) schemes have been launched for improving the infrastructure aspects.
  • India has expressed its intent to combat climate change by ratifying the Paris Agreement.

Highlights of the NITI Aayog 2020 SDG Index

  • Even though India saw significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health, there has been a major decline in the areas of industry, innovation and infrastructure as well as decent work and economic growth.
  • Kerala retained its position at the top of the rankings in the third edition of the index, with a score of 75, followed by Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, both scoring 72.
  • At the other end of the scale, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing States.
  • However, all States showed some improvement from last year’s scores, with Mizoram and Haryana seeing the biggest gains.

Holistic development

  • Developed by a global consultative process on holistic development, the 17 SDGs have a 2030 deadline.
  • The NITI Aayog launched its index in 2018 to monitor the country’s progress on the goals through data-driven assessment, and foster a competitive spirit among the States and Union Territories in achieving them.
  • In March 2021, a UN assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the SDGs said the region India is part of may see rising inequality due to the pandemic.
  • The NITI Aayog Index shows some improvement in the SDG on inequality, but a look at the indicators used to assess this goal shows that the think tank has changed the goalposts.
  • In 2019, the indicators for inequality included the growth rates for household expenditure per capita among the bottom 40% of rural and urban populations, as well as the Gini coefficient — a measure of the distribution of income — in rural and urban India. The 2018 indicators included the Palma ratio, another metric for income inequality.

Greater weightage

  • Such economic measures have been omitted from the indicators used for this SDG in the 2020 edition of the NITI Aayog’s Index.
  • Instead, it gives greater weightage to social equality indicators such as the percentage of women and SC/ST representatives in State legislatures and the panchayati raj institutions, and the levels of crime against SC/ST communities.
  • The only economic indicator this year is the percentage of population in the lowest two wealth quintiles.
  • The SDGs that do deal directly with wages and industrial growth better reflect the fact that India’s economy has taken a beating over the 2019-2020.
  • The country’s score on the SDG related to industry and infrastructure dropped 10 points to 55, while the scores on decent work dropped three points to 61.
  • The Clean Water and Sanitation SDG also saw a five-point drop, despite flagship government schemes in this sector. In a more welcome development, the SDGs on eradication of poverty and hunger both saw significant improvement.

-Source: The Hindu

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