Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights into Editorial: Significant progress in SDGs on clean energy, health: NITI index





India saw significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health in 2020, according to the NITI Aayog’s 2020 SDG Index.

However, there has been a major decline in the areas of industry, innovation and infrastructure as well as decent work and economic growth.

Kerala retained the top spot followed by Himachal Pradesh while Bihar featured at the bottom of Niti Aayog’s index for sustainable development goals (SDG), the latest data released.

The SDG index evaluates the progress of states and union territories on social, economic and environmental criteria and is released every year by the government.

At the other end of the scale, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing States. However, all States showed some improvement from last year’s scores, with Mizoram and Haryana seeing the biggest gains.


What is SDG India Index?

The Index for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) evaluates progress of states and Union Territories (UTs) on various parameters including health, education, gender, economic growth, institutions, climate change and environment.

First launched in December 2018, the index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in India.

It has also fostered competition among the states and UTs by ranking them on the global goals.

The index is a key tool for focused policy dialogue, formulation and implementation through development actions, in line with the global SDG framework.

It helps in identifying crucial gaps related to tracking the SDGs and the need for India to develop its statistical systems.


India’s strong commitment to SDGs:

  1. As home to one sixth of humanity, a significant share of the world’s developmental challenges and opportunities by scale, and some of the world’s largest and most ambitious developmental and social inclusion schemes and programmes, India’s lessons can provide a useful lens for the localisation of SDGs in other parts of the world.
  2. The SDGs have cemented their role as the world community’s answer to development challenges.
  3. SDGs break down the social, economic, and environmental themes into 17 goals and 169 targets, thereby enabling policymakers and implementors around the world to design effective and timely policies and initiatives.
  4. India has given its strong commitment to SDGs. Its key major developmental programmes, the strategies for a ‘New India’ by 2022, and the country’s vision for 2030 are aligned with the spirit of the SDGs.
  5. The localisation of SDGs has been ascribed utmost importance, as the states and Union Territories (UTs) are the actual implementors of the country’s ambitious development agenda.
  6. While NITI Aayog sets the high-level framework and monitors progress at national and sub-national levels, the implementation of the SDGs agenda is rigorously pursued by the states and UTs.


Holistic developmental indicators have been used:

  1. Developed by a global consultative process on holistic development, the 17 SDGs have a 2030 deadline.
  2. The NITI Aayog launched its index in 2018 to monitor the country’s progress on the goals through data-driven assessment, and foster a competitive spirit among the States and Union Territories in achieving them.
  3. In March, a UN assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the SDGs said the region India is part of may see rising inequality due to the pandemic.
  4. The NITI Aayog Index shows some improvement in the SDG on inequality, but a look at the indicators used to assess this goal shows that the think tank has changed the goalposts.
  5. In 2019, the indicators for inequality included the growth rates for household expenditure per capita among the bottom 40% of rural and urban populations, as well as the Gini coefficient, a measure of the distribution of income in rural and urban India.
  6. The 2018 indicators included the Palma ratio, another metric for income inequality.


Greater weightage to social equality indicators:

  1. It gives greater weightage to social equality indicators such as the percentage of women and SC/ST representatives in State legislatures and the Panchayati raj institutions, and the levels of crime against SC/ST communities.
  2. The only economic indicator this year is the percentage of population in the lowest two wealth quintiles.
  3. The SDGs that do deal directly with wages and industrial growth better reflect the fact that India’s economy has taken a beating over the last year.
  4. The country’s score on the SDG related to industry and infrastructure dropped 10 points to 55, while the scores on decent work dropped three points to 61.
  5. The Clean Water and Sanitation SDG also saw a five-point drop, despite flagship government schemes in this sector.
  6. In a more welcome development, the SDGs on eradication of poverty and hunger both saw significant improvement.

As another milestone in the SDG localisation journey of the country, the Index is presently being adapted and developed by NITI Aayogatthe granular level of districts for the upcoming North Eastern Region District SDG Index.

The index is designed to function as a tool for focused policy dialogue, formulation and implementation through development actions, which are pegged to the globally recognisable metric of the SDG framework.



India’s success in adopting, implementing, and monitoring SDGs stands as a testament to the principle of cooperative federalism, envisioned by the government of India and promoted by NITI Aayog.

NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the adoption and monitoring of the SDGs in the country, and also promote competitive and cooperative federalism among States and UTs.

The index represents the articulation of the comprehensive nature of the Global Goals under the 2030 Agenda while being attuned to the national priorities.

The modular nature of the index has become a policy tool and a ready reckoner for gauging progress of States and UTs on the expansive nature of the Goals, including health, education, gender, economic growth, institutions, climate change and environment.