India in no position to meet SDGs

Beginning 2016, India will have to implement the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 associated targets, a big leap from the eight global development goals and 18 associated targets, which comprised the Millennium Development Goals.

But neither does the country have adequate data to frame relevant policy, nor the sort of financial resources necessary to meet these global development targets, to be adopted by 195 member countries of the UN General Assembly at the session starting later this month, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend.

The implementation concerns were discussed at a day-long consultation organised by the United Nations’ India office in collaboration with the Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries, the NITI Aayog and the Forum for Indian Development Cooperation here on Wednesday.

What are SDGs?

Aiming at global systemic reform, the first seven SDGs are an extension of the MDGs; goals 8, 9 and 10 cover aspects such as inclusiveness and jobs, infrastructure and industrialisation; and distribution; and the final set of seven goals lay down the framework for sustainability spanning urbanisation; consumption and production; climate change; resources and environment; peace and justice; and the means of implementation and global partnership for it. While the question of access to technology runs across the SDGs, there is no agreement on a technology facilitation mechanism which India strongly supports.

NITI Aayog unprepared

NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar said in 2022, midway to the 2030 SDGs deadline, India would be celebrating 75 years of Independence, which is when the stated objectives of providing health, nutrition and education for all is likely to be accomplished.

Acknowledging the challenges India faces, she said even in the 12th Five-Year Plan, which had only 25 indicators, many of the targets could not be updated due to lack of data. “How then would India manage to meet all the 169 targets that are now being set,” she wondered aloud.

NITI Aayog adviser Savita Sharma said only on the basis of available data could national indicators for SDGs be framed. Given the expansive nature of the SDGs targets, it is the national indicators that will play a key role in implementing goals such as ending of poverty or mitigating climate change. However, with the Planning Commission now dismantled, the NITI Aayog, which replaces it, is yet to figure out how to steer the national pursuit of these new set of development goals, its members told The Hindu .

India has not fulfilled the MDGs targets of universal primary school enrolment, empowering women through wage employment and political participation, reducing child and infant mortality and improving sanitation to end open defecation as per a UN assessment, for which JNU professor Anuradha Chenoy, who is also FIDC director, blamed the lack of resources.

Former Planning Commission member N.C. Saxena observed that with 0.3 per cent of external aid and Rs. 15-20,000 crore to be raised from Corporate Social Responsibility funds, India currently has only 5 per cent of funds required to implement the SDGs. It is only by improving its tax to GDP ratio, which is 17 per cent now, and plugging the erosion of tax revenues at home through international cooperation, that the resource gap could be closed, he suggested.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 7:46:31 pm |