Challenges to Sustainable Development

Kaushal Kishore SDG(Follow @HolyGanga)

Sustainable Development Goals have been implemented in India and other 192 countries of the United Nations on January 1, 2016 in order to remove poverty and hunger. This is a resolution to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, which will eliminate poverty and hunger together, and it will further overcome certain serious problems like social and economic inequality. The accomplishment of these goals is bursting with a number of challenges. Today the deep chasm of social and economic inequality has been clearly visible in the modern era of growth-centered development vision, where a handful of wealthy people in every nook and corner of the globe live a luxurious life taking advantage of the latest facilities, on the other hand nearly 800 million people around the world are marginalized, who are undernourished. The member states of the United Nations have shown commitment to curb this menace of inequality. It aims to meet the goals by the end of 2030. It may prove to be an effective initiative in the context of social justice. This is an important and ambitious campaign for certain developing countries like India, where millions of people are deprived of two meals a day almost after seven decades of independence. It has been posing extremely complex challenges before the government and society for a long time.

Last year, upon completion of seventy years United Nations organized the summit in New York during September 25 to 27. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed this summit. The global community unanimously agreed on 17 goals and 169 targets at the very same summit. This was the result of over two years of intensive public consultation and engagement with civil society and other stakeholders around the world that paid particular attention to the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable. These goals and targets are envisaging a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want. This is the mantra that might assimilate the possibility of prosperity—where all life can thrive. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are focused on five fundamental things: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. All major issues pertaining to education, gender equality and climate change are included in them. In addition to that this declaration claims to envisage a world free of fear and violence, but in the next 15 years whether this dream will come true? This is an extremely complex question. The main points of Sustainable Development Goals are as follows:

  • End poverty in all its forms everywhere by the end of 2030. These days 1 in every 5 people in developing countries are living on the daily earning of less than 1.25 dollars a day.
  • End hunger, achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Eliminate all forms of malnutrition, while increasing the income of food producers two times.
  • Ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages. Save the lives of newborn and other children under 5 years whose death can be possibly prevented.
  • To eradicate AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, etc. and to control hepatitis and other infectious diseases.
  • To minimize the accidental deaths that occurs globally on roads to its half. Reducing the illnesses and number of deaths caused by hazardous chemicals, and pollution of air, soil, water, etc.
  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. To stop completely child marriage, forced marriage, female feticide. Ensure the end of all forms of child labor.
  • Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (Restriction on the propensity of defecation in open).
  • Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

 The history of fight against poverty in India is time-consuming and complicated. The status of poverty in most of the other republics in the Third World is not exactly unusual. The member countries of the United Nations have worked hard on ‘Millennium Development Goals’ for last 15 years. In the year 2000, they have agreed upon eight goals and issued the declaration to overcome extreme poverty and hunger. But they failed to accomplish that on the ground exactly. Therefore these goals have been included in the SDGs. Today, nearly two hundred million people in India alone are malnourished. The problems of malnutrition among children and non-availability of adequate foodstuff are continued for many years here. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have done significant progress in this direction in the last decade. The issue of malnutrition among children was assigned to the Anganbadi. This programme has been running for a long time on the aid of the World Bank. The budget allocation for this programme, from 2000 to 2013, has risen drastically—1000 crores to 20,000 crores. Later the World Bank observed it as a failure, and its outcome is here, in the 2015-16 budget, it has been reduced by more than half. The information on the involvement of global institutions in Indian administrative system and governance is fewer in the public domain. This is unfortunate in the modern age of right to information. The possibility of solving the problem of poverty and hunger while this serious issue remains continued is rare. To increase the public awareness on all topics related to governance and public administration is a must in this regard. It is all the more needed now, because of the new problem of pollution that is so serious. The global temperature is rising unprecedentedly at every level due to increasing pollution, and the problems emerging on account of that is making it more difficult to achieve the goals and targets of the sustainable development.

People in need are also deprived of a dignified life. The saint like Nanak spend the money, received from his father for business, to feed the monks considering it as a duty. Today, the followers of the tradition of Guru Nanak are still serving millions of people while feeding them free of cost. There are many such traditional institutions in the country. There is a Dharma in India to give food and water to the hungry and thirsty respectively (Bhukhe ko bhojan aur pyase ko pani). But still the facts and figures present the report of hunger and misery. According to the UNDP report, nearly 190 million Indians are compelled to sleep hungry. This failure is a result of lack of political and administrative will; in addition to that the indifferent attitude of the elite is also clearly visible. Last month, the French economist Thomas Piketty advised Indian elites to learn from the history, while visiting India to take part in the literary festival. This suggestion clearly indicates the indifference of the elites in order to remove the prevailing disparity. He has candidly advocated for tax increase on this class. Widespread public participation is required to achieve such an ambitious goal associated with social problem. The probability of failure in the future will continue on account of its absence. Let no one sleep hungry. A number of organisations are working on this mission over the years in the country. Many such volunteering groups have done remarkable works in the past that cannot be ignored.

Recently, under the aegis of the Human Advancement Institute, several social activists and a bunch of organizations came together to overcome discrimination and economic inequality and formed Bharatiya Nyay Manch (Indian Forum for Social Justice). From the rostrum of this Manch, the pundit of economics Roshanlal Agarwal has raised burning issues. He is leaving the issue of poverty line behind in order to draw a new line to fix the limit of wealth, and by doing so he seems to expand the ideas of Thomas Piketty. The issue of determining the limit of wealth instead of drawing poverty line has been already raised in the gone by decades. Our policy makers need to realize that the way of social justice might be paved only after removing inequality and hunger. The fight against poverty can be handled victoriously only if the close coordination between government and civil society is ensured. Everyone needs to show enthusiasm to achieve the aims and objects of sustainable development goals.

 

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