Home Contact Us  
   

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5282, 8 May 2017
 
India: Missing the Bus on Sustainable Development Goals?
Garima Maheshwari
Researcher, IReS, IPCS
 

In April 2017, the Government of India released a draft set of India’s indicators for mapping the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the country for public consultation. Spanning a set of 17 SDGs and their 169 targets mandated through intergovernmental consensus at the UN, the indicators are supposed to evolve a country-specific framework of metrics for SDG implementation. 

A closer gap analysis of the draft indicator framework reveals certain indicators to be more of the nature of collated governmental data metrics or a transposition of the original targets as they are, instead of being a reflection of the context-specific demands of sustainability in the country. This calls for sustainability to be made a policy-implementable mainstay rather than a burden of technocratic formality.

Lackadaisical Approach towards Sustainability Implementation
Adopted by the global community in 2015, SDGs were supposed to centralise sustainability, not no-holds-barred development. It is thus ironic that when the Indian government experts finally got around to mapping India-specific indicators for the SDGs, the focus was on everything but sustainability. While it is rather easy to see a compendium of environment-specific indicators for areas directly impacting ecology (such as water management, clean energy, waste management, forest ecosystem and climate change), the same reflections are not visible in non-environmental areas (poverty, health, agriculture and gender), for which the indicators will yield mostly a compilation of governmental data.

Indicators for critical sectors like agriculture, gender, climate change and peace and security do not reveal anything about how sustainability is mapped – which, in fact, was to be the envisaged value addition that the SDG mapping was supposed to provide.

For instance, for the first goal - poverty reduction - the emergent indicators do not match the mandated targets at all. While Targets 1.4.1 and 1.4.2 talk about access to basic services and securing land rights, the indicators mapped by the government for these are entirely unrelated, focusing instead on financial inclusion. Although this government is proceeding commendably with financial inclusion, what that has to do with basic needs fulfilment – such that it includes community management for livelihood generation and the politicised issue of access to land rights – is anybody’s guess.

In fact, land rights, even within the context of the goal of gender equality, are also, inexplicably, limited to mapping wages and financial services – this despite the fact that women, particularly those from lower caste backgrounds and employed as agricultural labourers, have been the focus of access to land rights for quite some time now.

Similarly, for the second goal - food security and sustainable agriculture - simply mapping R&D in agriculture, or use of modern equipment (which does not make a distinction between sustainable and unsustainable agricultural inputs) or total cropped area does not offer an explanation about how farmer incomes will be mapped (which is the mandate of the SDG target).

The clear implication is that critical SDG indicators need to be more in sync with the socio-economic and political context that they are addressing, and failure to do will lead to a failure of SDG implementation.

This is particularly so in the case of socio-economically sensitive and vulnerable social groups like farmers, women and backward classes, where public policy cannot afford to be too sweeping or general. Taking the case of women as an example  – addressed through the SDGs' fifth goal – indicators for Target 5.5 talks about the number of women holding seats in parliament, state assemblies and local government – an indicator transposed directly from the target itself. This is insufficient from the point of view of long-term sustainability in the Indian context. To gauge the empowerment of women, it is important to see whether their political empowerment is also leading to their economic empowerment since the reality is that India is losing out economically due to low numbers of women in the workforce. Perhaps a better indicator would have been: proportion of women inducted in the formal workforce to the proportion of women elected to legislative and local government bodies, year-wise.

From these basic gaps and numerous more along similar lines, it is clear that an ideal form of indicator-mapping for such issues should have sought to map the lacunae in the legal system and how to monitor them in their delivery of these basic rights and needs. Its absence shows that India is still proceeding within a very conventional, dichotomised understanding of sustainability. This divorces the domain of law and politics from that of environment and development, making the latter the mainstay of technocracy. The dangerous and mounting trend of making policy increasingly data-driven instead of factoring in non-quantitative issues of human security will only further accelerate the relegation of environment to technocratic policy-making.

Breaking Silos
If, indeed, policy-making continues to relegate sustainability to the domain of technocracy, it will miss out on the transformations occurring in the socio-political system, where the next major war will most likely be over resources. Recent developments within India – land rights agitation, water wars, public health crises, mounting farmer suicides and recurrent drought in relatively well-off and greener states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu as also in the most backward regions like Bundelkhand - are indicative of this trend.

Unless policy-making can factor in these realities that are increasingly becoming key domestic political issues, India will miss the bus on SDG implementation.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Environmental Protection: A Mixed Bag

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.