Skip to main content

India's 'lag'? How govt is making little effort to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

By Dr Gurinder Kaur* 

According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Report released on 5 June 5, 2021, India slipped down by two ranks to 117 from 2020’s 115th rank in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 193 countries of the United Nations set 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The United Nations ranks Sustainable Development out of 100 points in the Social Development Goals (SDGs). India scored 61.9 out of 100 points while its seven neighbors -China (73.9), Bhutan (69.3), Maldives (67.6), Sri Lanka (66.9), Nepal (65.9), Myanmar (64.6), and Bangladesh (63.5) got more points than India. Sweden has the highest score of 84.7 in Sustainable Development.
The report attributes India's decline in Sustainable Development to the challenges of eradicating hunger and hindering food security goals. In addition, gender equality, building resilient infrastructure, sustainable industrialization and the absence of innovation are some of the reasons why India's ranking has slipped.
According to the report, India also ranks very low in terms of Environment Performance Index (EPI), ranking at 168 out of 180 countries. According to the Yale University's EPI report, India is 21 ranks behind Pakistan in terms of biodiversity and habitat. Environmental Health Indicator is another criterion that shows the ability of any country to deal with the health problems of its people due to environmental health risks.
Out of 180 countries, India ranks 172nd in environmental health. In the case of environmental health, Pakistan is ranked 127th while India is 148th. The rankings are based on indicators such as climate, air and water pollution, sanitation, drinking water supply, ecosystem services, biodiversity etc. The first goal of Sustainable Development is to eradicate hunger in all countries of the world. 
Four indicators are used to understand the state of hunger. The first indicator is the share of population that is undernourished (whose calorific intake is insufficient), the second child wasting (the share of children under five who have low weight for their height) and third child stunting (the share of children under five who have low height for their age) and the fourth is the mortality rate of children below five years.
In the first round of the 5th National Family Health Survey (2019-20) of 22 States and Union Territories it was clear that the rate of malnutrition among children in India is higher than the National Family 4th Health Survey conducted in 2015-2016. Data collected before the Covid-19 pandemic shows that the number of people in India who do not get enough to eat is constantly increasing. The rising rate of child malnutrition is also pointing to a bleak future for the country.
Another reason for the decline in Sustainable Development is the lack of food security. According to the August 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report, food insecurity in India has increased by 3.8 per cent between 2014 and 2019. 
According to the report, during the period 2014-2016, 27.8 per cent of India's population suffered from moderate to severe food insecurity, but during 2017-19, the population increased to 31.6 per cent. The number of food insecure people increased to 48.96 crore in 2017-2019 from 42.65 crore in 2014-16. According to the above report, India accounts for 22 per cent of the world's food insecurity.
The issue of gender inequality in India is neither new nor surprising. In our country discrimination against girls starts even before they are born and it stays with them till their death. The birth of girls is still not celebrated at home, as evidenced by the declining number of girls compared to boys in every population survey census from 1991. In addition, there are increasing incidents of violence against women on a daily basis, ranging from domestic violence to gang rape.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 released by the World Economic Forum, India is down 28 ranks from 2020 in terms of gender inequality. India is ranked 140th out of 156 countries. Out of the South Asian countries, only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, lag behind India in this regard. The report identifies four indicators for measuring women's inequality: women's economic participation and opportunities in economic activity; education, health and survival; political empowerment; and the pace of development of reducing gender inequality.
On an average women's income is one-fifth that of men, which is due to rising unemployment among women due to declining employment opportunities. At the same time, there is wage discrimination against women. Although there is a lot of talk about the political empowerment of women in our country, the 33 per cent reservation bill for women in the Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies, which has been pending for almost three decades, has yet to be passed.
The number of women in the cabinet was 23.1 per cent in 2019, which has come down to 9.1 per cent in 2021. The literacy rate of women is also lower than that of men. Inequality of women is an important indicator of Sustainable Development which our country is not paying attention to.
Decline of public institutions is a clear indication of the government's irresponsible attitude towards Sustainable Development
India is increasingly lagging behind in terms of sustainable infrastructure. Institutions related to government education and health services in rural and urban areas have declined significantly in recent decades. Vacancies of teachers in government educational institutions (schools, colleges, and universities) are not being filled and the percentage of grants to these institutions has been gradually reduced. 
The poor condition of government hospitals has been exposed in the first and second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, the decline of public institutions is a clear indication of the government's irresponsible attitude towards Sustainable Development.
Sustainable industrialization, another goal of Sustainable Development, means that industrialization which will increase the growth rate as well as provide employment to the people of the area and raise their standard of living and the industries will meet the environmental norms so that they can absorb the environmental elements (air, water and soil) and do not harm the health of the people. 
India, in the race for economic growth, entangled in the web of corporations, is flouting environmental norms, giving numerous relaxations to industrial enterprises, leading to a steady increase in air and water pollution in the country's cities.
According to the World Air Quality Report 2020, India's capital Delhi has been the most polluted capital in the world for the third year in a row and 22 of the 30 most polluted cities are in India while China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have only two cities each. Every year millions of people die in our country due to air pollution. Indian government continues to plan to increase the number of industrial enterprises and benefit the corporate world instead of Sustainable Development.
The Central Government has made a number of changes to the 2006 Environmental Impact Assessment and released a draft of Environmental Impact Assessment in 2020, according to which existing good or bad, illegal occupants or on their own land, whether operating without obeying, environmental protection regulations, provision was made to regularize all the projects with deficiencies from their date of establishment by taking some fine.
Making such changes in the 2006 Environmental Impact Assessment would also allow projects like LG Polymer in Visakhapatnam to continue with payment of fines even if it has a detrimental effect on the health of the people in the area or the environment there. Toxic gas leaked from the project killed scores of people in May 2020 and affected thousands more.
According to the UN report on Sustainable Development, India also has a very low environmental rank. Natural disasters have also hit India hard due to rising temperatures. According to the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Report, in the period 2000-2019, India was hit by 321 natural disasters in which 80,000 people died and 100 million people were affected.
The year 2020 has been the 8th warmest year on record so far and last year five terrible cyclonic storms also took a heavy toll on the country. Highly populated and economically backward states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh have been hit hardest by natural disasters due to climate change.
About 70 per cent of the country's water resources are polluted. According to a report by the NITI Aayog, by 2030, 40 per cent of the country's population will suffer from shortage of drinking water. According to a report by the Global Water Quality Index, India ranks 120th out of 122 countries in terms of water purity. 
According to a 2018 report by the NITI Aayog, more than 60 per cent of the country's sewage and industrial effluents are discharged into rivers and streams without treatment. Diseases caused by drinking contaminated water kill 1.5 million children every year.
Our government claims to have met the Sustainable Development Goals, but makes little effort to reach them. India ranks 172nd in environmental health. Environmental health status is an indication of how well a country is protecting its population from disasters caused by environmental degradation. The Covid-19 pandemic was a catastrophe that led governments around the world to provide unemployment benefits to the unemployed during the lockdown, as well as to make the vaccine available to their own people on a priority basis. 
In our country, there was no concrete plan to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in the early days without a lockdown. Lack of basic health services, medicines, and oxygen in the country has killed millions of people in the second wave of Covid-19 and continues to do so. The bodies of some people have been found floating in the river Ganga even after their death.
For sustainable development, the present generation should use natural resources in such a way that the needs of future generations can be easily met. The government of our country needs to strengthen the infrastructure for sustainable development of the country. The planning in the country should be such that educational and health services are available to every citizen.
The government should ensure education and employment for girls and women to reduce gender inequality in society. Environmental regulations for the protection of the environment should not be relaxed, but should be enforced strictly and seriously so that the health of the people as well as the health of the earth and the environment is maintained.
---
* Professor, Department of Geography, Punjabi University, Patiala

Comments

Unknown said…
Very informative and interesting article Ma'am....Congrats 👍ji
Unknown said…
Good One.... Ma'am
Congratulations ji

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They