Mumbai Jan 13
Nearly 25 states and Union Territories in the country have been facing poverty, hunger, income inequality and every fifth Indian is below the poverty line and hence the country needs to take huge strides to alleviate poverty says Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index 2019-20 released by NITI Ayog.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, was prepared after a survey in 640 districts in the country. The index is aimed at measuring performance vis-a-vis the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals.
The report released recently stated that more Indians have fallen into poverty, hunger and income inequality in the past two years. This is after reduction in poverty to the extent of 27.1 crore between 2005-15. This indicates that India is far from the first goal of “ no poverty by 2030.
Only two states - Andhra Pradesh (plus 2 points) and Sikkim (plus 1 point) registered some improvement, while there had been no change in situation in Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra.
Besides 22 states ranged between 1 to 18 points indicating that the poverty increased in those states. Top big states to fall were: Bihar and Odisha (minus 12 points), Jharkhand (minus 9), Uttar Pradesh and Punjab (minus 8), Assam and West Bengal (minus 5).
Classification criteria for the SDG Index was as follows: Aspirant: 0–49, Performer: 50–64, Front Runner: 65–99 and Achiever: 100. But no state was close to the figure for total property alleviation. Goa scored 76. Tamil Nadu scored 72 and Tripura (70) was one of the topper. But these states also couldn’t meet the target.
Chhattisgarh was the poorest, with nearly 40 per cent of the population living below the national poverty line, followed by Jharkhand (37 per cent).
Jharkhand had 22 points (off 100), followed by Madhya Pradesh (24). Scores also dipped for Manipur, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Besides the Gujarat, Rajasthan, Meghalaya and Maharashtra were among the states that lagged.
The report among other things, said India still had 364 million Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) poor of which 156 million (34.6%) were children.
The country was worse off in several goals (SDGs): SDG 1 – alleviation of poverty, SDG 2 – ending hunger, SDG 8 – decent work and economic growth, SDG 10 – reduction in an inequality, SDG 15 – preservation of life on land and SDG 16 – upholding peace, justice and strong institutions. The Centre-backed think tank considered three new indictors: children (6-59 months) who were anaemic, children (0-4 years) who were underweight and gross value added in agriculture per worker.
Those apart, there were four existing indicators: rural households under public distribution system, stunted children (under five), pregnant women (15-49 years) who were anaemic and rice, wheat and coarse cereals produced annually per unit area.
India’s standing vis-a-vis United Nations-mandated goals, has improved marginally, but the country has slipped in key areas, related to food security, livelihood and standard of living. Neatly 21 states are yet to provide pucca houses. The highest percentage of households living in kutcha houses is in Arunachal Pradesh (29 per cent), followed by Odisha (14.2 per cent)
However official sources claimed that there had been improvement in some states in achieving the target of poverty alleviation. The Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam, graduated to the ‘Performer’ category (50–64) from earlier ‘Aspirant’ category (score in the range of 0–49). Also the Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Goa, and Sikkim moved up from the ‘Performer’ category to the ‘Front Runner’ category (65–99). Kerala achieved the first rank in the composite SDG Index with a score of 70, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 69.