Team launch sheds light on the third edition of the SDG India Index report that was recently released by the Niti Aayog.

What is the SDG India Index?

The SDG India Index assesses the Indian States and Union Territories based on their progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Evaluation: All the Indian States and UTs are given a score between 0–100. This is done in alignment with the National Indicator Framework (NIF). The 115 indicators incorporate the initial 16 SDGs while the 17th SDG is assessed based on a qualitative basis. The higher the index, the higher the distance towards achieving the SDGs is believed to be covered. 
  • Categories: Based on their score the States and UTs are categorized into four types:  
    • Aspirant: 0–49 
    • Performer: 50–64
    • Front-runner: 65–99
    • Achiever: 100

As per the latest report, 15 Indian States/UTs classify as performers while the remaining 22 come under front-runners.

Methodology SDG India Index 2020-21
Methodology of SDG India Index 2020-21

Why is SDG India Index needed?

  • Progress tracking: This index enables favourable economical, social, institutional, and environmental development of States and UTs by developing a competitive spirit among them.  
  • Decision making: Through this assessment, the policymakers and local public realize the shortcomings in their region thus helping them make an informed decision towards sustainability. 
  • Significance in achieving the 2030 Agenda: India makes up about 17% of the world’s population. For the World to achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda India must meet all the SDGs in time. The SDG India Index helps promote this.
Monitoring process of Localization SDG India Index 2020-21
Monitoring process of Localization

What does this Index suggest?

  • National progress: India’s overall SDG Index increased by 6, from 60 last year to 66 in 2020–2021. The Niti Aayog claims this progress to be due to the country’s significant development towards Clean water and sanitation and affordable and clean energy.
  • Top-performing states: Kerala scored the highest followed by the states of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu while Bihar, Jharkhand, and Assam were the worst-performing states this year. Mizoram, Haryana, and Uttarakhand have made the most progress compared to the previous year. These states saw an increase of 12,10 and 8 points respectively.
Goal wise Top States SDG India Index 2020-21
Goal-wise Top States SDG India Index 2020-21

What makes this index special?

  • Vast coverage: The latest edition has expanded coverage with 115 indicators and 70 targets compared to the 2019–2020 edition that utilized 100 indicators across 54 targets. The vaster coverage has helped improve accuracy.
  • Weightage on social equality: Here, social equality indicators like the representation of women and people from SC/ST in the State Legislature and local self-governing bodies have been given more importance over the economic indicators. This lays out the message advocated by the UN of ‘leave no person behind. 
  • Naming Ministries and schemes: Naming Ministries and schemes responsible for a specific goal have increased accountability. This will prevent disorderliness in taking action and credits.
The top-five & bottom-five States in SDG India Index 2020–21
The top-five & bottom-five States in SDG India Index 2020–21
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What are some of its shortcomings?

  • Exclusion in Economic indicators: The indicators used for the 2020–2021 report omitted numerous economic measures. The only economic indicator used in this third edition was the percentage of the population in the two lowest wealth quintiles. Due to this, the report lags to capture the massive impact caused by the COVID pandemic and lockdowns on the Indian economy. 
  • Lack of explanation on the financing of the goals: The report lacks information on how the achievement of these goals is to be financed. Various schemes and Ministries that serve the progress towards specific goals have been mentioned but how exactly will the implementation of these schemes be financed fails to be addressed. 
  • Minimum localization: Even though the SDG India Index compares the performance of various States and UTs across India it focuses mainly on the bigger picture, that is, the country. The lack of localization in the index prevents the States and UTs from identifying the major SDGs that need to be addressed in their region.
Goal-wise SDG India Index results, 2019–20 and 2020–21
Goal-wise SDG India Index results, 2019–20 and 2020–21

The SDG India Index is an important step towards building awareness about Sustainable Development Goals. It continues to propel national and sub-national efforts towards achieving global peace and prosperity. The insights should be used to design, implement, and monitor tailor-made solutions for diverse local problems for a country like India. This will go a long way to ensure a better future for all.

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Researched and written by Disha Shinde, Team ulaunch.

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