Can we be as happy as the state is at number 21? Many patted their backs and said, “Odisha is more advanced than before!” We have not been able to become a leading state as other states have moved forward. In order to make Odisha a leading state in a short period of time, we need to accelerate our progress.
For the past three years, the Niti Ayog hasbeen compiling a list of states
performing under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country. The rankings of the States and union territories are based on their performance. Odisha is ranked 21st out of 27 states in the list for the year 2020-21, and is ranked in the bottom 8 of the list. The seven states below Odisha are Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Of the top 10 states below Odisha in the 2019-20 rankings, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Nagaland have slipped to the top of the list this year. It is important to understand why Odisha’s performance has remaned so poor.
With the approval of the 193 member states of the United Nations in September 2015, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) has been announced to achieve 17 goals within the next 15 years from January 1, 2016. India is fully committed to the SDGs. The schemes floated by the state governments and UTs have been identified by the Niti Ayog. The SDG Index has been published annually for three years by the Niti Ayog to record the progress made in achieving each state’s goal. The first report, published in December 2018, is based on baseline data, while the rankings are provided in the annual reports for 2019-20 and 2020-21. According to the performance of each state in achieving the various goals, they are divided into four categories based on the marks they scored. The state with a score of 0 to 49 is “aspirant”, score of 50 to 64 is the ‘performer’, score of 65 to 99 ‘front runner’ and the state with a score of 100 is the “achiever”. The list is compiled by combining the scores obtained for all goals. At the national level, the score has risen to 66 this year, up by nine points last year. During the same period, Odisha’s score rose from 51 to 61, but has yet to match the national average. This means, Odisha has consistently been in the ‘performer’ category. Bihar is at the bottom of the list with 52 points, while Kerala tops the list with 45 points.
Out of the 17 applicable goals of the SDGs, the four goals that Odisha lags far behind in the ‘aspirational’ category are Goal 1 (Zero Poverty) and Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Goal 4 (Quality Education), Goal 5 (Gender Equality), Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and Goal 9 (industry, innovation and Infrastructure). SDG’s first goal is eradication of poverty. Odisha ranks third from the bottom in the list with 41 points. Below Odisha, only Jharkhand and Bihar find place. Odisha’s continued decline in scores of 59, 47 and 41 in 2018, 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively is a matter of concern. 32.56 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line, while 35.40 per cent of the poor live on the basis of the multi-poverty index. In addition, an average of 4 per cent of people across the country live in thatched houses, while in Odisha about 18 per cent of people have no pucca houses. The evacuation of people from sea shore coastal areas during the last cyclone – Yaas shows a glimpse of how many people are still living in mud houses. This is a testament to the extreme poverty here. As the state government has failed to work on a mission mode to provide pucca housing to the rural poor, the score of Odisha could have improved in the SDG Index.
The second goal of the SDG is to achieve zero hunger by providing food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. With this goal in mind, the situation in Odisha is worse than ever. In 2018, Odisha got 46 points, but this year it has fallen to 42. The percentage of the population covered under the National Food Security Act, rudimentary growth and the low weight of children below the age of 5 and the anemic condition of pregnant women are the indicators for measuring the achievement and Odisha has performed better. However, the average national score is only 47, as many states have been hit hard by hunger. The three other indicators set to achieve this target are anemia among 10 to 19 year-olds, per-acre rice productivity and gross agricultural value-added per capita labour are below the national average.
The 4th goal of the SDG is to provide quality education to all children. With a national average of 57 points, Odisha ranks sixth from bottom with 45 points this year whereas in 2014, Odisha scored 46 points. Kerala has scored maximum score of 80 points in this goal. With 8 out of the 11 indicators used to measure this achievement, Odisha lags behind the national average, so there is a need for more budget allocation and better attention. Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment is the fifth goal of the SDG, which scored 43 points in Odisha in 2018, but has now risen slightly to 46. Most of the states have not performed well, and the national average is only 48 points. Although the gender ratio status in Odisha is better than the national average, the crime against women is higher than the national average. Similarly, only 4.06 per cent of the land is owned by women, while at the national level it is 13.6 per cent. Mission Shakti has started functioning as a special department in Odisha, the situation is expected to change soon with a better emphasis on women’s empowerment.
SDG’s eighth goal is to achieve sustainable economic growth and provide productive employment and appropriate employment opportunities to the people. But Odisha has dropped from 50 points in 2018 to 48 points this year, 13 points lower than the national average. In this case, Manipur is the only state behind Odisha, while Himachal Pradesh tops the list with 78 points. Although Odisha’s GDP growth rate is slightly higher than the national average, the unemployment rate is 7.6 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 6.3 per cent.
SDG’s ninth goal is to build infrastructure, integrate sustainable industries and promote innovation, while Odisha’s performance in this regard has increased from 39 points in 2018 to 72 in 2019-20 and has dropped to 42 this year. In this case, Odisha is in the middle position, while the national average is 55 points. In Odisha, only 8 per cent of the total employment is in the industrial sector, compared to 12 per cent at the national level. Similarly, in the Innovation Index, Odisha got 18.94, while the national average was 35.59. Odisha lags behind the national level in terms of both mobile phones and internet connectivity. These aspects need to be addressed immediately. The state’s performance has been relatively good in achieving such other goals, with significant progress being made in the number of targets like clean water and sanitation, clean fuel and making cities and groups sustainable. Of course, various national programs like ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and ‘Ujjwala’ have proved useful in this regard. Odisha has tourgently focus on improving its performance under Good Health, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; which have remained below the national level.
If the Chief Minister of Odisha is numero uno, can we be as happy as the state is at number 21? Many patted their backs and said, “Odisha is more advanced than before!” The same is true of the SDG index. However, in the meantime, we have not been able to become a leading state as other states have moved forward. In order to make Odisha a leading state in a short period of time, we need to stop pushing ourselves and accelerate our progress. We need to set our priorities and move forward so that development is not one-sided. Therefore, it is hoped that the people in power and administration will make a concerted effort in many areas. As long as the state’s development process is not limited to the general public, it is unlikely to accelerate.