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UN's post-2015 draft goals: Indian civil society objects to greater role to private sector, neglect of Dalits

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the recently-released revised draft of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, proposed to be adopted at the UN General Assembly this September, a group of 18 top India-based non-government organizations (NGOs) has said that it fails to take into account the broader context of "declining role of the state vis-à-vis the private sector and businesses."
Pointing out that this will only lead to "encourage" partnership between the state and the private sector, "without addressing the systemic, deep-rooted developmental challenges confronting most parts of the world today", the group in its plea has said, it will undermine "certain public services including those related to the delivery of health care, education, water, sanitation and energy", which should be actually "primary responsibility of states."
The NGOs feel, "under Means of Implementation and Global Partnership (para 5), there is a clear push towards promoting private finance without adequately recommending better, transparent and global systems of progressive taxation that revitalize the role of the state and ensure that financing for critical developmental needs is not dependent on the new partnerships alone."
Asking the UN to address "global coordination around issues of fair and progressive taxation", the NGOs say, "There seems to be almost no reference to the need to address the challenges of tax havens, tax revenue foregone due to exemptions, tax holidays, tax evasion and avoidance, tax treaties and reporting of tax and beneficiary ownership that collectively create opaque systems that are already riddled with poor governance structures."
Wanting the drafting committee, which is currently (June 22-25) meeting in the UN to finalize the draft, revise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 issues related with "growing inequality within and across countries", the NGOs say, while talking of human rights for all, the most excluded groups like Dalits, who constitute over 260 million people across the globe, amongst many others, should be included.
"Newer partnerships should contain elements of adequate regulation, scrutiny and accountability mechanisms to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are enjoyed by all without discrimination on grounds of race, colour, caste, sex, language, religion, culture, migratory status, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic situation, birth or disability", the NGOs, who forwarded their recommendation to the UN on June 22, have said.
They further say, "While the principle of leave no one behind finds mention in the Preamble", this should be "strengthened by the commitment to put the furthest behind first such that action for the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups is prioritized." They insist, there should be "national interim equity targets to ensure that marginalised groups are on track to achieve 2030 targets to catch up with more advantaged groups."
The NGOs which have signed the pea include Global Call to Action against Poverty, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Oxfam India, Save The Children, Praxis India, All India Women's Conference, People's Action for Rural Awakening, and Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad.

Asia Dalit Rights Forum plea

In a seperate plea, N Paul Divakar and Durga Sob of the Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADFR) said, "caste-based discrimination should be recognized as the major discriminatory or exclusionary factor in development", adding, "The importance of elimination of caste based exclusion should be included as one of the targets of the SDGs that are being negotiated in the UN at its New York headquarter.
"Dalits communities have traditionally and culturally been subjugated by the upper caste for centuries, which has continued in various policy implementations till today", the ADRF says, adding, "The exclusionary measures adopted by various governments across the globe have marginalized Dalits in Asia."
Pointing towards a similar discrimination "like Roma in Europe, Outcastes in Senegal and other African countries, Qilambo in Brazil and Burakumin in overall development", the ADFR says, "The need to ensure transparency and open data which are crucial not only to access budgets but also to monitor the commitments made in achieving the SDGs and the targets."

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