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Monday Morning Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals: India's Challenges and Accomplishments

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  • April 10, 2023
    Monday Morning Meeting

    Col. (Dr) Divakaran Padma Kumar Pillay, Research Fellow, Non-Traditional Security Centre, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, spoke on “Sustainable Development Goals: India's Challenges and Accomplishments” at the Monday Morning Meeting held on 10 April 2023. The meeting was moderated by Dr. Uttam Kumar Sinha, Senior Fellow and Centre Coordinator, NTS Centre, MP-IDSA. Deputy Director General, Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bipin Bakshi (Retd.) and the scholars of the Institute participated in the discussion.

    Executive Summary

    The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The basic objective set forth by these SDGs was to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure global peace and prosperity by 2030. Nation states are taking desired actions to meet these SDGs as per their national capacities. In the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a significant amount of economic resources have been drained that could have otherwise been used to meet the objectives of global SDGs. India, in comparison to many other states, has done significantly well in achieving its SDGs.

    Detailed Report

    Dr. Uttam Kumar Sinha gave a brief introduction about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and highlighted that SDGs require collective global action and India in the past has shown remarkable success in achieving some of these, while others still require significant action. After his brief introductory remarks, Dr. Sinha requested Col. Pillay to make his presentation.

    Col. DPK Pillay started his presentation by highlighting the need for sustainable development. He mentioned that climate change and the over-exploitation of resources has impacted global food production and has also resulted in global water scarcity. In his presentation, he highlighted various global initiatives on sustainable development including the Stockholm Conference in 1972, the Earth Summit in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015. Col Pillay also discussed three key elements of sustainable development i.e. Environmental Sustainability, Social Sustainability and Economic Sustainability. Highlighting the challenges to sustainable development in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he mentioned that the conflict has drained a significant amount of economic resources that could have otherwise been used to meet the objectives of global SDGs. Referring to the emerging global shortages of food, fuel and fertilizer, Col. Pillay mentioned that the conflict in Ukraine has significantly impacted global supply chains.

    In assessing India’s SDGs, he highlighted the key roles played by various ministries and organizations, including the NITI Aayog, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Finance Ministrythe Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. Col. Pillay further discussed India’s initiatives such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, National Food Security Act, Swachh Bhatart Abhiyan and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation that marks India’s important contributions in achieving SDGs. Col. Pillay mentioned that despite these positive initiatives there are several challenges that hinder India's pace in achieving its national SDGs. These include financial and budgetary constraints, the issue of overpopulation and technological limitations. Col. Pillay concluded with an optimistic universal prayer highlighting India’s ethos in achieving common global good and SDGs.

    ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः । सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।

    सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु । मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत् ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥

    Questions and Comments

    Post the presentation, Dr. Uttam Kumar Sinha invited Deputy Director General, Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bipin Bakshi (Retd), for his comments, and then opened the floor to participants for their comments and questions.

    Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bipin Bakshi (Retd.) highlighted the role of the Urja Ganga Gas distribution pipeline that provided cheaper gas to 20 cities and towns in the hinterland. He mentioned that as we are in the process of moving towards achieving SDGs, this ongoing transition is also leaving carbon footprints. He asked the speaker regarding the possible option that India could take to limit such footprints. 

    Mr. Arvind Khare asked the speaker about India’s approach to social security and social justice in achieving SDG targets. He further enquired about India’s approach in building adequate facilities and infrastructure for Divyang Children.

    Dr. Swasti Rao asked the speaker to explain and differentiate between SDGs and Paris Agreement goals.

    Dr. Adil Rasheed commented on the interlinkages between political structures and their role in SDGs. He also asked the speaker to comment on the role of modern political structures in meeting various challenges of the state’s SDGs.  

    Col. DPK Pillay gave extensive and insightful remarks on all the comments and questions raised by the participants.

    Report prepared by Bipandeep Sharma, Research Analyst, Non-Traditional Security Centre, MP-IDSA, New Delhi.