India’s march for Millennium Development Goals uneven-Report

New Delhi, Sep 13 (Calcutta Tube) India cannot adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and the progress made after two-thirds of the time-lapse has been mixed, says the latest report of a UN agency.

Following are the key findings on India in an assessment report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with just five years left for the finishing line for the eight globally-agreed Millennium Development Goals:

– Absolute number of poor has declined from 320 million (36 percent of population) in 1993-94 to 301 million (27.6 percent of total population) in 2004-05. At this rate, the country will still have 279 million people (22.1 percent) living below the poverty line in 2015.

– India is slow in eliminating the effects of malnutrition, going by the proportion of underweight children below three years of age. This proportion has declined only marginally from about 47 in 1998-99 to about 46 percent in 2005-06. At this rate, 40 percent of children will remain underweight by 2015.

– With 1.9 million tuberculosis cases estimated in 2008, India has a fifth of the world’s total. But India made the most notable progress in providing treatment across the country. In 2008, over 1.5 million patients were enrolled for treatment.

– During the past decade, India’s forest cover has increased by 728 sq. km, access to water is up from 68.2 percent in 1992-93 to 84.4 percent in 2007-08 and in urban areas it is 95 percent.

– India has the lowest sanitation coverage in the world and this remains a major challenge. Half the population does not have access to toilets and in rural areas this is as high as 66 percent.

– Going at the rate by which youth literacy increased between 1991 and 2001 — from 61.9 percent to 76.4 percent — India is expected to have 100 percent youth literacy by the end of 2012.

– Gender parity in primary and secondary education is likely to be achieved, though not in tertiary education. But the share of women in wage employment in the non-farm sector can at best be expected to reach a level of about 24 percent by 2015, far short of parity.

– Prevalence of child mortality is down from 125 per thousand live births in 1990 to 74.6 per thousand live births in 2005-06. At this rate, the level is expected to reach 70 per thousand by 2015, short of the target of 42 per thousand live births by 2015.

The report said about 1.5 million children continue to die every year before completing a year after their birth. The infant mortality rate considerably improved over the past three decades, declining from 80 per thousand live births in 1990 to 53 in 2008.

India is required to reduce its infant mortality rate to 26.7 per thousand live births by 2015 as per the goals set for the country. ‘But it is expected to achieve a level of about 46 by 2015, far short of the target.’

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