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India, its SDG Pledge Goal, and the Strategy to Apply, The Hindu Editorial Analysis

The Hindu Editorial Analysis: The editorial analysis of The Hindu Newspaper Editorial Articles aimed at simplifying various concepts relevant to the UPSC and other State PSC Exams. The Editorial Analysis helps in expanding the knowledge base as well as framing better quality mains answers. Today’s Hindu Editorial Analysis of ‘India, its SDG Pledge Goal, and the Strategy to Apply’ discusses India’s performance in achieving SDGs, associated challenges and ways to improve the situation.

India and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

During the first meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors under India’s G20 Presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern that progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is slowing down globally.

  • Given India’s large population size, its success in realizing SDGs is crucial for achieving them globally.
  • Although India is expected to become the third-largest economy in the world in the next decade, it is equally important to ensure that this growth translates into progress on social and human development.
  • Therefore, the Prime Minister’s concern deserves urgent attention.

India’s Performance across various SDGs

The framework of SDGs encompasses 17 goals related to economic development, social welfare, and environmental sustainability, comprising 231 unique indicators that must be achieved by the year 2030. A recent study assesses India’s progress on 33 welfare indicators, covering nine SDGs and providing a mixed picture of positive and concerning trends.

  • India has made significant progress in achieving 14 out of the 33 SDGs and their corresponding indicators, including improved access to electricity, full vaccination, sanitation, and a reduction in neonatal and under-five mortality rates, over the past five years.
  • However, this progress is not uniform across all districts, with a large number of districts falling behind in achieving some of these targets.
  • For instance, while the national average for neonatal and under-five mortality rates is ‘On-Target’, there are still 286 and 208 districts, respectively, that have not achieved these targets.
  • Similarly, despite significant progress in access to improved sanitation, 129 districts are still struggling to meet this SDG indicator.
  • Between 2016 and 2021, there has been significant progress in several indicators, such as reducing adolescent pregnancy, decreasing multidimensional poverty, and increasing women’s access to bank accounts in a vast majority of districts.
  • However, there are concerns as the current pace of improvement is insufficient to meet SDG targets for 19 out of the 33 indicators.
  • Despite a nationwide effort to promote clean fuel for cooking, over two-thirds of the districts (479) remain ‘Off-Target’.
  • Similarly, 415 and 278 districts are ‘Off-Target’ for improved water and handwashing facilities, respectively.
  • The SDG indicators related to gender inequality and women’s well-being are of particular concern in India.
  • Currently, no district has been successful in completely eliminating the practice of girl child marriage before the legal age of 18 years.
  • The pace of progress is also slow, with more than three-fourths (539) of districts unlikely to meet the SDG target of reducing the prevalence of girl child marriage to 0.5% by 2030.
  • This is a worrying trend, as indicators such as teenage pregnancy and partner violence may be linked to child marriage.
  • Despite the widespread availability of mobile phones in India (93% of households), only 56% of women report owning a mobile phone, with 567 districts still considered ‘Off-Target’.

Learning From COVID-19 Approach

Creating and executing policies to address urgent problems can be likened to an “optimization problem”, which requires political commitment, efficient governance, sufficient resources, and accurate data. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, India took an “optimization” approach, which led to the allocation of the necessary resources and attention to effectively address the issue. There are valuable insights that can be drawn from this approach to improve India’s efforts in achieving its SDG targets.

  • The success of India’s COVID-19 vaccination program and comprehensive relief package was largely due to the strong and consistent political leadership supported by a responsive administrative structure at all levels, from national to district.
    • This successful synergy was willing to learn and make adjustments in real-time.
    • It is now imperative to establish a similar assessment-oriented ethos that supports achieving India’s district-level SDGs with adequate support.
  • The second lesson from India’s success with COVID-19 is attributed to the digital infrastructure and new initiatives such as Co-WIN data platform and Aarogya Setu application.
    • India needs to establish a unified and public data platform for managing population health.
    • This can be achieved by integrating the existing siloed platforms into a single digital resource that is accessible to district administrators, state officials, and national policymakers.
  • Executing a targeted SDG strategy at scale requires the same sense of urgency demonstrated in India’s COVID-19 relief package.
    • The Indian government’s implementation of the ₹70 lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, later increased to nearly ₹6.29 lakh crore, in March 2020, which supported 800 million people, is an example of such a proactive programme.
    • This relief package included spending on direct in-kind and economic support, as well as measures aimed at reviving the economy, small businesses, and agriculture.
    • By mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19, particularly for vulnerable and socio-economically disadvantaged groups, it exemplified the importance of a government-supported programme focused on improving people’s well-being.


India must chart a new policy course to meet the development aspirations of its billion-plus population in a sustainable and healthy manner, without historical precedent for a democratic and open economy.

  • However, India’s success in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a comprehensive and ambitious manner has demonstrated that delivering at scale is possible.
  • A similar pioneering and nationwide effort is necessary to meet the SDG targets, particularly those related to gender equality, basic quality infrastructure, and population health and well-being.

The Editorial Analysis- We Need a Forest-led COP27

The Editorial Analysis- We Need a Forest-led COP27

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