India: Progress towards achieving the MDGs 2015

Unlike many developing countries, India’s economy has been growing at a fast pace, enabling the government to mobilize the necessary resources internally for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Its dependence on international aid, especially for financial resources is minimal; in fact it has declined bilateral aid from many countries. Despite this, however, the country has failed to achieve most of the goals and targets. The main reasons for this are inadequate funding, inappropriate administration and ignorance of policy and governance issues.

Ultimately however, the failure is due to the absence of inclusiveness in the development model. Instead of enabling people to acquire basic needs such as food, sanitation, water, health care, the government is promoting ‘non-inclusive growth’ and has sought to provide basic services through subsidies with the associated problems of inefficiency and corruption.

The organized sector, which provides quality employment, employs only 12% to 13% of the workforce. The remaining 87% are relegated to agriculture and the informal sector with low and uncertain earnings. The crisis in agriculture, seen in the millions of farmers’ suicides, is now being exacerbated by climate change. Although the government has prepared an ambitious climate change action plan, the focus so far in implementing the plan is limited to investment and technology, ignoring critical issues such as equity, institutional capacity and good governance.

India’s progress towards achieving the MDGs, as reported in the latest official MDG Report, India is likely to fall short of a majority of the targets and indicators with respect to Goal 1: poverty and hunger; Goal 3: gender equality; Goal 4: infant mortality, Goal 5: maternal mortality and Goal 7: environmental sustainability, all of which, with the possible exception of environmental sustainability, is appalling. Even the partial successes achieved on targets and indicators with respect to goal 2: education; Goal 6: health, have a few caveats. For example, the school enrollment rates are ahead of the targets, but the dropout rates are also high, making the enrollment rates meaningless. The incidence of HIV/AIDS has come down, but what is alarming is that HIV/AIDS incidence is increasing in states where it was hitherto low. There are also wide variations in the penetration of information and communication devices as agreed under Goal 8: development partnership. And, as the report indicates, the performance of the majority of states on many of the goals and targets is even more appalling. The quality of achievements that have been made is also far from satisfactory.

Source: 2013 Social Watch India National Report