Road for SDGs in India paved with glaring potholes: report

July 17, 2017

New Delhi: Using the lens of ‘Leave No one Behind’ and ‘A Life of Dignity for All’ as proposed by the UN framework for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the civil society in India launched a status report in New Delhi.

The report, Civil Society Report on SDGs : Agenda 2030, focuses on ten goals and is prepared by a large number of civil society organisations and networks through desk research and consultations with local communities, particularly the marginalised communities.

The objective of this report on SDGs is to locate India’s progress and remaining work on SDGs in order to generate momentum for the achievement of universal sustainable development.

Even as the report details the triumphs of existing governmental interventions at the national, state, and local levels, it has cautioned against the glaring gaps that could make success on certain targets difficult.

While it has hailed initiatives like the popularization of SDGs at national and sub-national levels, the widespread development of urban infrastructure, the flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the implementation of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme, the report urges to give more impetus to the role of intersectionality in perpetuating multiple marginalities.

Elaborating on the extensive and diverse challenges India continues to face with regards to the implementation of SDGs, the report advocates for the implementation of universal social protection measures for marginalized populations such as the aging and the differently-abled.

Dwelling on SDG one that aims to tackle poverty, the report highlights the challenge of India accounting for the largest number of people living below the international poverty line, with nearly thirty per cent of Indians living under $1.90 a day.

The report also highlights the unequal distribution of wealth in India, terming it as troublesome, with the richest one per cent of Indians owning 58.4 per cent of the country’s total wealth.

The report recommends prioritizing the revival of agriculture through a restructuring of rural economy that emphasizes progressive land reforms and women’s ownership.

The goal of SDG two aims at tackling hunger and malnutrition, underlines the low nutritional status among adolescent girls and the alarming rates of anemia among pregnant and lactating women reveals the gender discrimination that is largely prevalent in India.

The report emphasizes the necessity of reviewing budget allocations and rationalizations in order to achieve the targets of SDG two.

On the health front, the report describes an inadequate healthcare system that disproportionately affects the poor and the marginalized. To address these issues, the report recommends paying close attention to inequities in health indicators and recommends being critical about intersectional marginalities affected by caste, class, gender, religion, and geographical location.

On SDG five that addresses the issue of gender inequality, the report claims that problematic gaps, ranging from fund allocation to lean infrastructure, jeopardise the implementation of laws, programmes and schemes in India that promote gender equality.

The report states that India’s commitment to gender equality may only be accomplished through gender-sensitive planning and by taking into consideration the multidimensional vulnerabilities that women in India face whilst formulating policies and programmes.

Talking about the SDG goal on sustainable and smart cities, the report asserts that issues like migration, indebtedness and livelihood regeneration have yet to be considered as a part of climate change planning in governmental policy-making.

On the climate change front, the report problematises the local governments’ lack of responsibility in managing climate change and disasters. It also advocates for the cultivation of public education and awareness in order to invoke the general population’s agency in achieving SDG 13 that deals with climate change.

A systematic review of India’s involvement with SDGs reveals that though progress has been made, a significant amount of work remains to be done. Ultimately, the Civil Society report claims to locate the current status of SDGs in India while simultaneously creating a platform for dialogue amongst the implicated stakeholders.

The 17 goals and 169 targets constituting the 2030 Agenda for SDGs aim to achieve equitable and inclusive development across economic, social, and environmental dimensions.