Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Prelims and Mains focus: About the SDG India Index report 2019 and its significance; NITI Aayog and its composition
News: Government think tank NITI Aayog plans to conduct a financing exercise with states that have been “historically backward” in development to ensure that India can achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on time.
- India will be presenting its second Voluntary National Review during the United Nations’ High Level Political Forum in July 2020.
Context: “There is consensus on all levels that unless these States make significant progress, India will find it challenging to achieve its SDG targets on time. NITI Aayog has started working closely with these States, enabling them in establishing SDG monitoring systems and supporting them in forging partnerships for building institutions, capacity, knowledge and convergence,” stated the body in its SDG India Index 2019 report.
- Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and Assam were among the worst performers in terms of their progress towards achieving these SDGs, shows the report.
Efforts made by NITI Aayog
- NITI Aayog has already begun estimating the financial cost of achieving “key” SDGs in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund.
- As the next step of the collaboration, SDG financing exercise with select states is planned. Special attention is being given to the adoption, implementation, monitoring and financing of SDGs in states, which have been historically backward in development.
- A comprehensive capacity building programme for the States, UTs, and local governments is being designed in partnership with the UN system. The training modules will extensively cover developing SDG monitoring framework, identifying and designing indicators, localisation, and dashboards.
Findings of SDG India Index report, 2019
- The SDG India Index 2019 report, which evaluates the progress of states and Union Territories on social, economic and environmental parameters, found that India has managed to improve its average score on the back of improvements in five goals.
- However, it has stated that two goals — nutrition and gender — continued to be problem areas and demand special attention. In nutrition, food wastage and loss due to inefficient supply chain management remain a “major” concern, according to the report.
- While significant levels of food losses occur upstream, at harvest and during post-harvest handling, a considerable quantity of food is lost or wasted during the distribution and consumption stages. Such food could be salvaged by timely withdrawing it from the distribution network, aggregating it and then redirecting it to the people in need.
- Challenges remain for wider adoption of climate-adaptive sustainable agriculture practices, new technology as well as agricultural development plans involving large swathes of land by small farmers, who often lack assets and resources and constitute more than 82 per cent of all farmers.
- Crimes against women stood at around 3.60 lakh in 2017, with the crime rate increasing to 57.9 then, as against 56.6 in 2014; “several” legislations have been enacted towards reforms to ensure gender rights and equality.
- Several challenges still remain in achieving gender equality, including an “acute” data gap for gender equality in several sectors, especially for transgender people, stated the report. Other issues include declining female labour force participation, which currently stands at 17.5 per cent, and is characterised by aspects like a gender wage gap across sectors as high as 50-75 per cent.
- The agriculture sector still has the “largest” share of women, and a “large” proportion of the population involved in informal employment also consists of women “with little or no social protection”.
- There is also inequality in women’s access to and ownership of land. In rural India, while 75 per cent of rural women workers are engaged in agriculture, women’s operational landholding is only 13.96 per cent. The absence of land ownership limits their access to inputs, seeds, fertilisers, credit and agricultural extension services.
About NITI Aayog
- The Government, in January 2015, replaced Planning Commission with NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India).
- Aim: to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.
Composition of NITI Aayog:
- Chairperson: Prime Minister of India as the Chairperson.
- Governing Council comprising the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.
- Regional Councils will be formed to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region. These will be formed for a specified tenure.
- The Regional Councils will be convened by the Prime Minister and will comprise of the Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region. These will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee.
- Experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister.