'India needs to speed up to achieve MDGs by 2015'



New Delhi: Indian states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand need to do more if India has to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty by 2015, says a report by a UN agency.

"The proportion of poor in these states is currently at 64 percent of the country’s poor and this is likely to increase to 71 percent by 2015," says 'Millennium Development Goals: India Country Report 2009', unveiled Wednesday.

The number of poor in 2015 is likely to be 279 million at all-India level, said the report.

Prepared by the Indian government to monitor the country's progress in achieving MDGs, the report was presented to experts participating in a two-day roundtable on 'Achieving the MDGs by 2015: Policy Action for Human Freedoms'.

With just five years to the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs, the country as a whole will not be on track for a majority of the targets related to poverty, hunger, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability unless concerted national efforts are made by the government and all sections of civil society working in tandem, says the report.

On eliminating hunger, India's record is quite dismal. According to the report, India accounts for 50 percent of the world’s hungry and over 46 percent of Indian children are undernourished.

Progress in reducing infant mortality is equally grim. According to the report, over 1.5 million children continue to die every year before their first birthday.

Across India, 74 children died before they reached the age of five for every 1,000 live births in 2005-06 as compared to 125 in 1990. At this rate India is likely to miss the target of reducing these figures to 42 for 1,000 live births by 2015, says the report.

In 2000, 192 United Nations (UN) member states, including India, set for themselves eight developmental goals, entitled the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs).

By 2015, they pledged to halve world poverty and hunger among a slew of other promises that include achieving universal primary education and reducing child mortality.

Participating in the discussions, TCA Anant, secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, underlined the government’s commitment to accelerating progress on the MDGs.

"The stakes are high. With five years to the 2015 deadline, we have a narrow window of opportunity to generate renewed momentum," he said.

IANS