Will India hit the Target 2015?

Ten years since the original adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the 2000 Millennium Summit, which saw remarkable progress in some countries, we, as a nation have epitomized collective failure. The consequences of the shortcomings have further been aggravated by the combined effects of the global food, climate, energy and economic crisis.  Improvements in the lives of the poorest are happening but at an acceptably slow pace. At this pace, several of the eight MDGs and associated targets are likely to be missed by many countries, with India leading from the front. The statues of the 8 MDG’s is as follows:

1.    Eradicate extreme hunger and Poverty- India accounts for fifty percent of the worlds hungry. Though a decline trend can be seen i.e. from 320 million to 301 million people living below poverty line, a long way needs to be traversed. Despite schemes like Swarna Jayanti Gram Yojna Swarozgar Yojna, National Rural Employment Gurantee Bill, Sampoorna Gramin Yojna and few others being successfully operational, the momentum should be accelerated. The proposed Food Security Act might be of help but its implementation will take time.

2.    Achieve Universal Primary Education – We can breathe a sigh of relief as far as the education front is concerned. The literacy rate has risen steeply from 61.9 % in 1991 to 76.4% at present. The ideation of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan with its focus on universal primary education surely deserves a round of applause. Kapil Sibal’s ambitious and revolutionary ‘Right to Education Bill’ is a silver lining for India as far as designing a concrete plan for education is concerned. If executed well, India will surely move a step closer by 2015 but one cannot guarantee this.

3.    Promote gender equality and empower women- It is one of the most challenging tasks for India. The gender disparity in the education sector i.e. 76.9% for men and 54.5% for women in a way endorses the plight of women in India. Patriarchal attitudes are still very strong in the country. Although India is trying hard to grapple with this issue and has taken some noteworthy steps in this regard like the formation of Self Help Groups for women (SHG), Women’s Reservation Bill etc. but it is seemingly becoming very difficult task.

4.    Reduce Child Mortality Rate – The fourth and fifth goal of the MDGs can be seen together as they are closely linked with each other. However, in terms of growth, they differ. Interestingly, the government has managed to bring down infant mortality by 41% and this can be seen as a positive sign.

5.    Improve Maternal Health – In a recent survey, it was found that every year 78000 women die during pregnancy, childbirth or within 42 days after delivery. We have so far reached only a thirty four percent decrease, starkly in contrast to the seventy five percent targeted by 2015. Although there are monetary assistance schemes like National Rural Health Mission, Janani Surksha Yojna but they seem to be of little use.

6.    Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases – The second largest economy cuts a rather sorry picture when it comes to state of health affairs. Merely having famous personalities endorsing the benefits of polio drops is only a white wash. TB, Polio, Various viruses, Superbugs, respiratory diseases, water borne infections, obesity, heart attacks are haunting India and its people.  Although, the instances of HIV/AIDS have shown a steady decrease over a four-year period beginning from 2004 and has come down to 0.29 % and even instances of malaria have reduced drastically but still 0.9 % per cent of the GDP on health care is too meager an amount.

7.    Ensure environmental sustainability – India, today, has been transformed to a dumping ground for the wastes generated by the developed nations, whom we consider big brothers. ‘Alang’ in Gujarat has the distinction of being the largest ship breaking industry of the world. We might marvel at this fact but invariably ignore the huge amount of toxics and asbestos that are released into the environment, leave alone the occupational diseases it causes. Climate change and global warming have also become a grim reality and the country seems to be more vulnerable than its counterparts. More than fifteen percent of the population still does not have access to clean drinking water, which only aggravates the chances of them being water borne diseases.

8.    Develop a global partnership for development- The long list of these eight development goals seems to be a very ambitious list with its capstone being goal number eight which calls for global partnership for development. This is one sector where India has shown a remarkable progress. Various collaborations with multiple nations like UK, US etc, India aims to achieve its eight MDG’s till 2015. But, one should not forget that just focusing on this goal before achieving the other seven, it will not succeed.

Today, as MDGs are target-based, governments pour money into schemes to show their political will and commitment. But many of these schemes bypass the existing infrastructure, hitting at the very root of the welfare state. There are umpteen numbers of schemes and policies’ aiming at achieving these goals but their execution and implementation is an issue of concern. Thus, the time clock is ticking away for India. It’s time we start working towards achieving these 8 MDG’s in a sincere manner.

Avani Jain

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