Synopsis: Although India has a better score in the latest SDG India Index 2020-21, some procedural changes in the methodology have resulted in an inadequate measurement of economic inequality.
NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2020- 21 was released recently. India has improved its overall SDG score from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2021. This is being credited to the efforts put in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health.
Major findings of the NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2020-21
- Areas showed improvements in the index: Following categories of SDGs showed developments in many States and Union Territories,
- Abolition of poverty and hunger
- Steps related to the availability of affordable, clean energy. The campaign to improve the access of households to electricity and clean cooking fuel has been an important factor in this regard.
- Areas showed a decline in the index: The Index also mentions the following areas as worse due to the lockdowns imposed by the governments.
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Inter-state inequality: There was a stark difference between the southern- western States and the north-central and eastern States in their performance on the SDGs. This points to socioeconomic and governance gaps. This will result in federal challenges if left unaddressed.
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Methodological changes and their impacts on SDG India Index 2020-21
The Index has made the following methodological changes:
- Change in indicators: The 2020-21 Index drops several economic indicators, like:
- Gini Coefficient: This year the index dropped the well-recognized Gini coefficient.
- The index did not use the growth rate for household expenses per capita among 40% of rural and urban populations (instead, only the percentage of the population in the lowest two wealth quintiles is used)
- Impact: Dropping of these indicators means that the SDG score on inequality may have missed out on assessing the impact of the pandemic on wealth inequality.
- Greater weightage to certain indicators: The index gives greater weightage to social equality indicators such as the representation of women and people from marginalized communities in legislatures and local governance institutions, and crimes against SC/ST communities
The second wave of the pandemic had similar outcomes on livelihoods and jobs. A better score for India to achieve SDGs will bring some optimism. However, governments must work on addressing persistent issues such as increased inequality and economic gloom.
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