Human development is a stop-and-go process in India, with some well-intentioned policies but poor implementation on the ground, conclude experts at a UN-sponsored meet
Two-thirds of the way to the 2015 finishing line for achieving eight globally agreed millennium development goals (MDGs), India is at a crucial turning point, with a few successes but multiple failures, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
Persistent inequalities, ineffective delivery of public services, weak accountability systems and gaps in the implementation of pro-poor policies are the major bottlenecks to progress. These are some of the findings of the third 'Millennium development goals - India country report 2009' that were presented to experts participating in two-day roundtable conference on 'Achieving the MDGs by 2015: Policy action for human freedoms' held in New Delhi this week.
Greater devolution of power to local governments in rural areas, streamlining of funds flow, and use of information technology to reach the unreached and stop leakages were among the experts' key recommendations.
For the first time, state specific data in the MDG report pinpoints regions that are the laggards and those that are on the fast track.
India has been successful in getting children into primary school, in providing access to water and in conserving environmental resources. It is possible that poverty will be halved by 2015, but by no means certain. Major states in India's heartland like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, also the most populous states, are unlikely to achieve this target if it remains business as usual. The proportion of poor in these states is currently at 64 per cent of the country's poor, and this is likely to increase to 71 per cent by 2015. The number of poor in 2015 is likely to be 279 million at all-India level.
On hunger there are disappointing failures. India accounts for 50 per cent of the world's hungry people. Over 46 per cent of Indian children are undernourished. Health too is a major challenge -- the very survival of India's women and children is threatened. In 2006, on average 254 women died giving birth to a child for every 100,000 live births – though this is down from 327 in 1990. The states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal had the highest numbers, ranging from 480 to 312. Kerala at 95, Tamil Nadu at 111 and West Bengal at 141 have the best figures.