On SDGs goals

The year 2018 was considered a mixed bag for the state of Nagaland – symbolic progress in some aspects, yet patently deficient in many others. Several indicators and reports have pointed out such discrepancies.

The most worrisome, necessitating immediate attention from policymakers and all stakeholders, is the NITI Aayog first ‘SDG India Index, Baseline Report 2018’ released last month. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are the “universal set of 17 Goals and 169 targets to help organise and streamline development actions for greater achievement of human wellbeing, while leaving no one behind – by 2030.”

The NITI Aayog analysed the States and Union Territories’ (UTs) progress towards the SDGs by constructing the Index spanning across 13 out of 17 SDGs (leaving out Goals 12, 13, 14 and 17 – Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action Life Below Water; and Partnerships to achieve the Goal respectively). Aimed at providing “a holistic view” on the social, economic and environmental status of the country and its States and UTs, the Index was based on a set of 62 Priority Indicators.

As reported earlier, Nagaland was slotted in the ‘performer’ category ranking 6th from the bottom among 29 states. Remarkably progress in many categories were weighed down by glaring deficiencies in others.
A close and comprehensive scrutiny of the index is pertinent to find ways forward.

In ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ goals, the state was exceptionally well-placed at 4th. In other goals like No Poverty and Zero Hunger; Gender Equality; Clean Water and Sanitation and Affordable and Clean Energy; Reduced Inequality; and Life on Land, the positions were favourable. Notably, the Index reflected that Nagaland has the highest performance with women’s labour force participation rate.

However, there were also glaring inadequacies. For instance, in ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure,’ it scored ‘Zero,’ while in ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth,’ only Manipur was below Nagaland at the bottom. In ‘Good Health and Well-being,’ the state was slotted at last three, with only Assam and Uttar Pradesh below. Ditto for ‘Quality Education’ (4th from the bottom) and ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities (6th from the bottom).

As far as step and processes undertaken towards achieving the goals, the report informed that state so far has organised a single workshop building capacities for SDGs. The state’s Planning & Coordination Department in collaboration with United Nations Development organised the two-day workshop from November 13-14, 2018. The workshop had called for “political will and active participation of stakeholders to achieve 17 agendas of SDGs in Nagaland.”

Incidentally, speaking at the workshop, the Chief Minister Neiphu Rio then stated that “peace and good governance are pre- requisites for development” while maintaining that SDGs broadly align with the development priorities of the state.

In the aforesaid Index, the state scored well in “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” goals; thereby begging the question – Is bad performance due to the absence of good governance?

Overall the state seems to score well in mostly intangible aspects while lagging far behind in tangible aspects, significant to well-being as well future progress of the state as well as its citizens.

It is imperative that the state government begin the New Year reaffirming the commitment to integrate the SDGs into the policy process, and most importantly, implement them into tangible actions.