Sustainable Development Goals That India Follows in 2024

We’ve always looked forward to the sustainable development goals report released annually ever since it was first introduced by the UN in 2015. The agenda comprises 17 distinct but interconnected objectives that range from eradicating hunger and poverty to fostering clean energy and ensuring access to clean water.

The goals signify pressing challenges that the global community must address to achieve global prosperity by the year 2030. As a major signatory to this agenda, India is one of the countries that’s tasked with achieving these goals within the set timeline.

With only 6 years left, we believe now would be a good time to examine what India’s progress has been in accomplishing these goals as dictated by the United Nations.

India’s Progress in Context of the SDGs over the Years

Let’s cut straight to the chase, India’s performance on the SDG rankings hasn’t been remarkable. The country has slipped in the ranking for three years straight since 2020. It went from 117 in 2020, to 120 in 2021 and then slipped even further to 121 in 2022.

While this decline can be attributed to the 2020 pandemic, there were several other factors at play as well. Finally, there was a sigh of relief when the 2023 SDG rankings were released and India jumped up to the 112th rank.

Things might finally look up until you start digging deeper. India was still lagging on objectives like ending world hunger, good health, access to clean water and sanitation. Many experts attribute India’s lack of progress in the SDG rankings to eight states.

These are Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Odisha. Ever since Niti Aaayog started tracking the SDG performance of each state, the performance of the above 8 regions has been consistently abysmal with an SDG score that stays below 60.

On the other hand, other states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Himachal Pradesh are doing exceedingly well with an SDG score above 60.

So despite the massive jump, it would be safe to assume that India’s chance of achieving the SDG objectives before 2030 remains dubious at best. States that were doing well before are doing great now. States that weren’t faring well before aren’t doing so well even today. The progress hasn’t been noteworthy.

While India’s problems are diverse, in our opinion, the poor performance of bottom-ranking states ultimately boils down to two things.

The Problems Holding India Back

India has always struggled when it comes to addressing poverty. Since independence, a large majority of India’s population has lived an underprivileged existence. This isn’t to say that strides haven’t been made. We are in a better position to remove poverty today than we were a decade ago.

The question however is whether we will be able to end poverty in all its forms by 2030 as per the SDG agenda. Government Think Tank – Niti Aayog, recently released a report that claimed 24.8 crore people were lifted out of multidimensional poverty in the nine years leading to 2022-2023.

The report clearly states that at least 3.77 crore people escaped poverty in Bihar. This number was 5.94 crore in Uttar Pradesh and 2.30 crore in Madhya Pradesh.

That said, the report has been met with scepticism from a few notable economists and academic experts. Many of them raised serious doubts about the validity of the Multidimensional Poverty Index being used to represent poverty in the country.

This is what retired Indian Economics Officer K.L. Datta had to say about the MPI index to The Telegraph – “The MPI simply tells us the percentage of people unable to access certain facilities provided by the government or (that are) available to them. It is not used by planners and policymakers to fix targets, nor is it used as an input to make plans for poverty reduction. To sum up, the MPI does not represent poverty. The government is trying to project the MPI estimate as a substitute for the poverty ratio. This is not right.”  

It is sufficient to say, that it would be only fair to take Niti Aayog’s report on declining poverty with a grain of salt. The report does nothing to assuage concerns when you consider that India is still ranked 111 among 125 countries on the Global Hunger Index report.

Another area significantly hindering India’s progress is its ongoing population growth. Home to over 143 Cr. People, India officially became the most populous country in the world by surpassing China in 2023.

The level of population explosion has only put more pressure on the country’s services and resources. It has perpetuated issues of poverty and inequality. If this isn’t addressed sooner, it will be impossible for India to recover and achieve the SDGs by 2030.

What’s Being Done

With only 6 years to meet the sustainable development goals, the Indian government is actively engaged in introducing policies and strategies to put us on the right path forward. The establishment of Niti Aayog is a good example of this. The Think Tank has been tracking the progress of each state in the country in pursuit of the SDGs ever since it was established.

Over the years, numerous policies have been introduced that directly align with the UN’s goals. Policies like the “National Rural Livelihood Mission” and the “National Social Assistance Program” were introduced to address the issue of poverty. We’ve also seen the “National Food Security Mission” to end hunger, “Sarva Siksha Abhiyan” to ensure equitable education, “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao” to ensure gender equality, and many more.

While the Government does seem to be doing its part, it isn’t their duty alone. Real, sustainable change will remain a distant dream if it is left up to just one entity.

The Shared Plan Forward and Let it Count’s Struggle for Prosperity in India.

Having spent a lot of time with numerous NGOs, one thing is clear to us. The only effective way to improve India’s SDG rankings is through a collaborative approach. The government, NGOs, corporations, individual donors, and other institutions need to work together to address issues affecting the country at large.

The government needs to be more transparent with its policies and progress. Corporations need to take their social responsibility more seriously. We also need to do a good job of educating citizens on the issues that affect us all.

Only then is sustainable change possible. As a trusted fundraising platform, Let it Count is doing its part as well in realizing the UN’s global impact when it comes to the SDGs. This becomes apparent when you look at the type of initiatives we are supporting on our platform.

For instance, we have a project emphasizing an innovative education concept that aligns with SDG 4. We have a project on Girl Empowerment that aligns with SDG 5. We have projects on hygiene and sanitation that align with SDG 6 as well as an initiative that promotes holistic cancer care, which aligns with SDG 3.

Let It Count is constantly hosting projects and initiatives that have the potential to take India closer to realizing its sustainable development goals by 2030. With your invaluable support, we can hopefully realize this dream and help our country usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity and peace before it is too late.

Visit “Our Projects” page to explore initiatives that could benefit from your support.