NITI Aayog and India’s march towards Sustainable Development Goals 2030

“India’s success in 2030 UN SDGs can change the face of the world” Powerful and impactful words of UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa

I wrote this report for publication in a journal and will post the link if and when it gets published.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by 193 countries at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in Sept 2015 and came into effect from 1st Jan 2016. SDGs remarkably increased the umbrella of initiatives from the set of 8 international development goals with 18 quantifiable targets under Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to set off 17 Goals with 169 Targets. To circumvent the pitfalls of global imbalances during the MDGs era, SDGs formulated a wide range of goals for making sustainable goals more universal and inclusive. In India, Niti Aayog, India Government top think tank is involved in driving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation in India. Pic. Niti Aayog

To achieve the set agenda, the Indian Government launched some very innovative policies to catalyse financial inclusion, increase technology, promote universal housing, healthcare, education, gender equality and clean tech through its flagship policies namely Swachh Bharat Mission, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 5: Gender Equality), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan- Dhan Yojana, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

SDG Goal 1: No Poverty

These policies signify the seriousness with which the Indian Government is implementing the vision of the United Nation on SDGs through strategies, interventions, and attracting private capital within the Indian and Global business ecosystem.

# Niti Aayog and India 

NITI Aayog, the premier government policy think tank formed under the tutelage of Mr. Narendra Modi and headed by Mr. Amitabh Kant, is mandated for coordinating work on SDGs in India. It works as the central force with all the stakeholders involved in implementing SDGs within the economic, social and environmental ecosystem through policies and interventions, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation backed by a framework of best ethical business practices. To map progress across India, an SDG India Index is formed to assign policies to respective SDGs with a numerical number ranging between 1 to 100. The SDG index tracks the progress of all the States and Union Territories on a set of 62 Priority Indicators, to measure impact evaluation of policies and interventions of the Government of India.

The index constructed for 13 SDGs, works as ready reckoner for policymakers, businesses, civil society, and the general public. The Indian SDG index excludes Goals (12,13, 14 and 17) due to unavailability of comparable data across States for the first three Goals while no available framework for Goal 17 due to a lack of key performance indicators. NITI Aayog’s comprehensive SDG Index Baseline Report 2018, is the platinum standard of policies and interventions in India across SDGs mapped at local, state and union territories.

SDG Goal 2: Zero Hunger

To construct the index, MoSPI’s tailor made the National Indicator Framework of 306 indicators to map India’s progress against SDGs and associated targets. NITI Aayog, India further toned down the indicators to 62 Priority Indicators depending on various parameters including buy-in from respective ministries and with at least 50% data coverage from the States and UTs. The raw data for the Priority Indicators are compiled at the State and Union Territories (UTs) level and missing data identified with a null value.

A national target value was set for each indicator, and the data for all the States and UTs normalized to calculate the aggregate score under each SDG by averaging the normalized score values. Normalization of data was done to standardize the data on a bell curve between 0 and 100 score to develop a framework of comparison across India States and UTs. The composite SDG India Index score was calculated by averaging all Goal scores to arrive at the composite SDG Index Baseline report. Pic: SDG Index Baseline report

# Key Findings of the report

The report signify India’s progress in socio, economic and environment sector with scores ranging between 42 and 69 for Sates and between 57 and 68 for UTs. Himachal Pradesh and Kerala topped the overall SDG Index Baseline report for states and Chandigarh among Union Territories. Kerala leads in Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education and Gender Equality while Himachal Pradesh tops in Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Tamil Nadu and Puducherry lead in SDG 1 “No Poverty” while Delhi and Goa achieved the most success in eradicating hunger.

The fact that even the most successful States and UTs are just over the halfway mark suggests a lot needs to be achieved. Significant numbers of Indians live in extreme poverty with 10 homeless households for every 10,000 households. Further, India suffers from grave malnutrition with 38.4% of children under five in India are stunted and 50% of pregnant women between the age of 15 and 49 are anemic. Considering the paramount importance of SDG 1 and 2, the Government has taken concrete steps in eradicating poverty through consistent, impactful policies and interventions.

# Policies measures by the Indian Government

The Government, through its national nutrition strategy, has tried to address the problem with two focused schemes Antoydaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Integrated Child Development Scheme. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), which directly transfers Rs 6000 into bank accounts of pregnant women for catalyzing better facilities for delivery, hits the problem on its nail. Considering the interlinkages between SDGs investing in upgrading the population at the bottom of the pyramid in skills development by leveraging and embracing technology leading to gainful employment is a step in the right direction.

Further, Accenture Labs is collaborating with Akshay Patra for the million meals project for driving improved efficiency across the supply chain using emerging disruptive technologies. However, a lot will depend on every India playing their small part in navigating India to SDG 2030 goals; although an uphill task but achievable.

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