Assessment of India’s progress towards the MDGs shows a notable but uneven achievement across goals, targets and states. India has achieved the target for halving poverty and is likely to attain gender parity in primary, secondary and tertiary school enrolment by the end of 2015. It has reversed the spread of communicable diseases such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and met the target on access to clean drinking water. Based on revised WHO estimates, India is on track to achieve the target on maternal mortality ratio by end-2015. India will miss the target on reducing by half of the proportion of underweight children since 1990 by a small margin. It is lagging behind on targets for primary school enrolment and completion and universal youth literacy; empowering women through wage employment and political participation; reducing child and infant mortality and improving access to sanitation facilities.
A disaggregated analysis of the performance of individual states on the MDGs shows that states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Sikkim and Delhi seem to be doing better while Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam are lagging behind. Further investigation reveals all states, including Bihar, have made significant improvements in the absolute MDG scores from their baseline values; it is just that some states made more rapid improvements than the others. The key “drivers” explaining the inter-state variation include accelerated broad-based and employment creating economic growth; extent of allocation of resources to basic services such as education and health; effective delivery of public services; availability of basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity; and promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women were critical in achieving the MDGs.
JEL Code(s): I15, I25, I31, I38
Key words: Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), India, States, Broad-based growth, Basic services, Infrastructure, Sustainable development.