By Gyan Pathak
Despite improvement in human and economic development, Jharkhand is yet to overcome its legacy of numerous problems even after 20 years of its becoming a state. It is a matter of serious concern that the state is the worst in hunger and the second worst in SDG Index among all states in the country, and therefore it urgently requires special assistance from the Centre and the state reworking its priorities.
NITI Aayog’s recently released SDG Index 2020-21 for the states in India has ranked the state second worst in the country in Sustainable Development Goal. It has also been ranked the worst in the Zero Hunger parameter. It reveals that the year 2020 has been the most devastating for the livelihoods of the people of Jharkhand and due to COVID-19 restrictions people could not even get food is sufficient quantities to quench their hunger. No wonder, the state is worst in hunger index among the 28 states surveyed.
In the SDG Index, Jharkhand is only better than Bihar. It indicates that despite all its handicaps, Jharkhand is performing better than its parent state from which it was carved out in 2020. However, it should not be a matter of satisfaction for Jharkhand led by Hemant Soren government. It may be mentioned here that the SDG index evaluates the progress of states and union territories on social, economic and environmental criteria every year.
Jharkhand’s overall scores across SDGs have improved marginally by three points to 56 out of 100 in 2020-21 from 53 in 2019-20, according to the report. Jharkhand was adjudged on 15 parameters and it saw improvement on 10 indicators. It is a good sign in itself and if Hemant government reworks its priorities in the current fiscal 2021-22, Jharkhand can progress even on the rest 5 parameters in which it fell from the level achieved in 2019 -20.
On the Zero Hunger parameter, Jharkhand slipped three score points compared to the index of 2019-20. The state scored meagre 19 on the parameter, which is the lowest in the country. In 2019-20, Jharkhand’s score was 22, according to the report. This parameter is the most important one which reflects the level of poverty in both the urban and rural areas of the state. Rural poverty level is far more than the urban poverty, mainly because villages in Jharkhand are remotely situated and many of them are not easily accessible. The fall in hunger index indicates a sharp increase in poverty and extreme poverty levels in the state in the pandemic year 2020.
Needless to say that poor households of Jharkhand, majority of which are Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, need coverage under National Food Security Act. Lakh of them still don’t have even ration cards. Some time back, the government had identified 15 lakh households who were not enrolled under National Food Security Act. However, only 9 lakh poor households could get the green cards for subsidised food until March 2021.
However, in No Poverty parameter the state did perform relatively well. It improved by eight score points from 28 in 2019-20 to 36 scores in 2020-21. Given the resource crunch the state has been facing for quite some time, it can be considered a good achievement, but the state has miles to go before eradication of poverty goal is achieved. COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the poverty level and thus the state will have to face greater challenge in the months ahead.
As for the Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, the state suffered a major decline. The state’s score dropped from 70 in 2019-20 to 37 in 2020-21. It can be chiefly attributed to lockdowns and covid restrictions. With slowly unlocking of the economy, the situation is likely to improve, but the government will need to plan carefully with providing the needed support to the sector. The state government could not do this on its own without the help of the Centre in providing financial relief and support, and central financial institutions, such as banks.
On the Decent Work and Economic Growth parameter The state has slipped from 70 score points in 2019-20 to 54 in 2020-21. It is here, the state government can play a major role by devising proper planning with innovative ideas.
On Good Health and Well Being parameter, Jharkhand is performing very well. The state’s score improved from 55 in 2019-20 to 70 in 2020-21, as per the SDG Index.
Quality Education score has slightly improved in 2020-21 to 45 as against 42, Gender equality score to 51 as against 34, Clean water & sanitation score to 83 as against 78, Affordable clean energy score to 77 as against 50, Sustainable cities & communities score to 71 as against 57, Sustainable consumption & production score to 55 as against 36, Peace, Justice & strong institutions score to 70 as against 67 of the previous year 2019-20. A little improvement has also been registered in the level of inequality with Reduced inequality score of 65 as against 64.
A little fall has been recorded on Climate action which fell to a score of 25 in 2020-21 from 27 of 2019-20. However, a great fall has been registered on Life on land the score of which fell to 71 last year as against 99 of the previous year. In brief, the state is undergoing an unprecedented hardship. The Centre must help the state to overcome it. (IPA Service)