Fourteen years ago, with the dawn of 21st Century, world leaders at the United Nations gave a clarion call to structure a blueprint for tackling the development challenges affecting the human race. This turned into a visionary document at the Millennium Declaration Summit where the leaders decided upon eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) embedded on the noble principles of human dignity, equality, and a free world from extreme poverty. These goals also vouched to save those threatened by disease and hunger.
Over the years the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders – national governments, international community, civil society and the private sector have successfully strengthened the bold dream.
The 2014 Millennium Development Goals report minutely examines the progress achieved on these targets and further reaffirms that the pledge undertaken to make a profound difference in lives of many, stands strong.
India and Development Goals
According to the report India has a long way to go to reach the global targets with sustained efforts from all stakeholders. The people in the country continue to battle poverty, child and maternal deaths which cast a shadow on the growth and development story. The report glaringly highlights, the overwhelming majority of people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day belong to Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with one third of the “World’s 1.2 billion extreme poor living in India alone in 2010.”
India is closely followed by China, which notably ranks second with 13 per cent of the poor of the world.
Elaborating on other development parameters the report states that Southeast Asia and East Asia have done well in meeting the targets of the MDGs but disturbing statistics loom large over South Asia which was laggard in many aspects like hunger and malnutrition, maternal and child deaths, sanitation and gender parity, especially in education.
The Government of India maintains that several of its schemes are at good pace to commensurate the plans targeting the Millennium Development Goals. Key initiatives like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to increase employment opportunities in rural areas, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a national policy to universalise primary education, health sector schemes like National Rural Health Mission, Reproductive and Child Health Programme and the Integrated Child Development Services have changed the dismal situations to a great extent. The Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission and the Total Sanitation Campaign have been focussed to address key MDGs.
In India most of the development schemes and programmes are formulated and established under the Five Year Plans and the goal of the current 12th plan is to achieve “Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth” which is in conformity with the MDGs.
The Millennium Development Goals India Country Report 2014 released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India states , “India’s achievement in respect of the MDGs , it is a mixed bag. For some indicators India is fast, that is, it has already achieved the target level well ahead of the dead line, In respect of some indicators, India is expected to reach close to the target level by 2015 if not actually meet the target level. The areas of concern are the rest of the Indicators especially those relating to share of women in wage employment in the non – agricultural sector (indicator 11), proportion of seats held by women in National Parliament (indicator 12), proportion of population with access to improved sanitation, urban and rural (indicator 31), in respect of these indicators India is lagging behind by a huge margin.”
Considerable progress has been made in several areas targeting MDGs like basic universal education, gender equality and economic growth etc. However the country has a long way to go on improving several health indicators related to mortality rate, morbidity and different environmental factors. Further redesigning of outreach programmes and intensification of field efforts is required to give momentum to programmes to achieve the MDG goals.