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NITI open to quarterly dialogue with civil society on SDGs

Dec 21, 2017

India’s apex planning body to engage civil society in quarterly deliberations to have an action oriented approach to deliver results.

New Delhi: India with all its diversity and vastness has a primary challenge of prioritising the development goals at the subnational levels as blind adherence to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) might not deliver the desired results in many aspects.

This was one of the unifying thoughts that emerged during the National Conclave on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) organised in New Delhi. Various stakeholders including the civil society, the UN, the state planning body, the NITI Aayog, and other government representatives underlined the need for evolving a cross cutting mechanism with an inter-sectoral approach at different levels of governance.

Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar said that SDGs need to be prioritised according to the specific needs of various states. “Every policy needs to be analysed in terms of social cost benefits. This would help us in ranking SDGs in the country. There is a need for performance based outcomes at ministries.”

Kumar further added that NITI is trying to be a action tank and not just a think tank. With the intent of taking the idea of development to the people, he said that NITI was open to a quarterly dialogue with the civil society. “With 38% of children stunted and 50% of mothers anemic, India has a huge task ahead. The country is already burdened with the task of getting 300 million people out of poverty,” he said.

Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator in India and UNDP Country Representative, said that India’s Jugaad system (frugal innovations or quick-fix solutions) has a huge potential in catering to its developmental needs. Yuri urged that India should turn its waste into wealth.

Yuri said that India has a light years ahead on SDGs as the latter are closely linked to the traditional Indian philosophy. “Big data is now a reality and technology is here to help. Data should be used to make intelligent decisions for development. SDGs cannot be implemented in a traditional fashion, otherwise it would take more than 150 years to realise the goals,” he said.

Mathew Cherian, Chairperson, Voluntary Action Network India, cautioned against India’s demographic dividend vapouring up by the year 2050. “Kerala has already been hit by a grey Tsunami, and the rest of country is moving in that direction gradually,” he said.

Cherian also called for a deliberative platform for civil society with the Niti Aayog.

Dr Ashok Kumar Jain, Adviser, NITI Aayog, said that the best practices of various states should be studied and implemented in others for the benefit of all.

Amitabh Behar, executive director of the National Foundation for India (NFI), said that a clear picture on the final set of indicators would serve as a concrete step towards furthering actionable steps on SDGs.

Behar said that SDGs were not just about extreme poverty but also about achieving justice for as many people as possible cutting across all kinds of divisions of caste, region and gender disparities.

The conclave saw presentation from six Indian states on the various measures taken by them in pursuit of SDGs and alignment of local policies with the former.

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