Editorial Articles

volume- 14,03-09 July 2021

SDG India Index 3.0: Meaning And Significance

NITI Aayog has released the third edition of the SDG India Index. The report titled SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020-21: Partnerships in the Decade of Action, designed and developed by the Aayog, focuses on the significance of partnerships as its theme. NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the adoption and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country, and also promote competitive and cooperative federalism among States and Union Territories.

What is SDG India Index?

The SDG India Index is an aggregate measure which can be understood and used by everyone—policymakers, businesses, civil society and the general public. It has been designed to provide an aggregate assessment of the performance of all Indian States and UTs, and to help leaders and changemakers evaluate their performance on social, economic and environmental parameters. 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.

Since its inaugural launch in 2018, the SDG index has been comprehensively documenting and ranking the progress made by States and UTs towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Now in its third year, the Index has become the primary tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs in the country and has simultaneously fostered a healthy competition among the States and UTs. SDG India Index 2020-21 spans across 16 out of 17 SDGs (with a qualitative assessment on Goal 17). The Index tracks the progress of all the States and UTs on a set of 115 National Indicators, measuring their progress on the outcomes of the interventions and schemes of the Government of India.

The SDG India Index is intended to provide a holistic view on the social, economic and environmental status of the country and its States and UTs. It enables the States/UTs to learn from the good practices of their peers and supports the  them in identifying priority areas which demand more attention. The Index also highlights data gaps in the statistical system of the States/UTs and identify the sectors in which robust and more frequent data needs to be collected.

What is the methodology?

Designed and developed by NITI Aayog, the preparation of the Index follows extensive consultations with the primary stakeholders—the States and Union Territories, the UN agencies led by United Nations in India, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and the key Union Ministries.

The SDG India Index computes goalwise scores on the 16 SDGs for each State and Union Territory. Overall State and UT scores are generated from goalwise scores to measure aggregate performance of the sub-national unit based on its performance across the 16 SDGs. These scores range between 0- 100, and if a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies it has achieved the 2030 targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved. Based on the score across all 16 SDGs, the States/UTs are classified into the four categories based on their distance from target—Aspirant (0-49), Performer (50-64), FrontRunner (65-99), and Achiever (100).

1.      Selection of indicators

As the first step, suitable indicators from the National Indicator Framework (NIF) on SDGs are identified and mapped with the targets. Guided by the NIF, NITI Aayog has constructed a list of 115 indicators. To determine suitable metrics for inclusion in the Index, technically sound and quantitative criteriabased indicators are chosen that have:

a)      Relevance to the SDG targets

b)      Alignment with the NIF

c)      Data availability at the national level for States and UTs from official statistical systems

d)      The consent of respective Ministries/ Departments

e)      Data ownership, either administrative or survey, by Line Ministries

f)       Sufficient data coverage, such that data for atleast 50 per cent of the States/UTs is available

Sufficient data coverage, such that data for atleast 50 per cent of the States/UTs is available.

2.      Target setting

The next step is target setting for each indicator, once the required raw data is ready. A suitable target value for 2030 is set for each indicator.

3.      Normalisation of raw indicator values

This step involves rescaling each indicator to arrive at normalised scores. The normalisation of indicator values to a standard scale of 0 to 100 denoting the worst performance and 100 denoting target achievement) is required to ensure comparability as different indicators has different ranges of values. Equal weights for each indicator in line with the internationally accepted practices are adopted.

4.      Computation of composite Index score

The next step is the computation of composite Index score for every State/UT. The composite score is the arithmetic mean of the Goal score for 16 Goals, for each State/UT, assigning equal weight to each Goal. This score is an indication of the overall position of the States/UTs in their journey towards achieving the SDGs

What are the takeaways from SDG India Index 3.0?

·         The country's overall SDG score improved by 6 points—from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020-21. This indicates that the country overall has progressed forward in its journey towards achieving the SDGs. The positive stride towards achieving the targets is largely driven by exemplary country-wide performance in Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), where the composite Goal scores are 83 and 92, respectively. Seven other Goals drive the positive push—3 (Good Health and Well-being), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Respon-sible Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 15 (Life on Land), and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), where India has scored between 65 and 99.

·         Two Goals—2 (Zero Hunger) and 5 (Gender Equality) demand special attention, as the overall country score is below 50. However, nine States in Goal 2 and 12 States in Goal 5 moved out of the Aspirant category this year as compared to 2019-20. Š The SDG India Index 3.0 score for the States ranges between 52 and 75; for the UTs it belongs to the 62 to 79 band. This presents a notable improvement from 2019-20, when the scores varied between 50 and 70 for the States and 59 and 70 for the UTs.

·         Kerala retained its rank as the top State with a score of 75. Chandigarh too maintained its top spot among the UTs with a score of 79.

·         Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh took the second spot while Goa, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh shared the fourth spot on the table.

·         When looking at the distribution of the States in terms of the aggregate SDG score across the four classifications, one can observe that no State is a 100 (Achiever) on all 17 goals. While 15 out of the 28 States are in the Front-Runner category and 13 States in the Performer category, among the UTs one falls in the Performer and seven in the Front-Runner categories.

·         While in 2019, ten States/UTs belonged to the category of Front-Runners (score in the range 65-99, including both) twelve more States/UTs find themselves in this category in 2020-21. Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Punjab, Haryana, Tripura, Delhi, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh graduated to the category of Front-Runners (scores between 65 and 99, including both).

·         Mizoram, Haryana, and Uttarakhand are the top gainers in 2020-21 in terms of improvement in score from 2019-20, with an increase of 12, 10 and 8 points, respectively.

·         Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam are at the bottom of the Index with a score of 52, 56 and 57, respectively. Among UTs, Dadra and Nagar haveli & Daman and Diu has scored the lowest with a score of 62.


What are SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the 'Global Goals for Sustainable Development', were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. As per the United Nations, the SDGs are the "blueprint" to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

The 17 SDGs are integrated— they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. These are (in the particular order) No Poverty; Zero Hunger; Good Health and Well-being; Quality Education; Gender Equality; Clean Water and Sanitation; Affordable and Clean Energy; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Reduced Inequality; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; Life Below Water; Life On Land; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; and Partnerships to achieve the Goal.

The UN notes that although the word "disability" is not cited directly in all goals, the goals are indeed relevant to ensure the inclusion and development of persons with disabilities.

In India, the SDG Vertical of the NITI Aayog, in collaboration with Union Ministries and States/UTs, is the nodal agency for coordinating and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals. Through the approach of cooperative and competitive federalism, the Vertical works towards accelerated adoption, implementation, and monitoring of the SDG framework and related initiatives at the national and sub-national levels. The Vertical works closely with key stake holders—including the Government, civil society, private sector, academia, think tanks, research organisations, and multilateral organisations—to fast-track the achievement of SDGs in the country.

(Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan) (Source: NITI Aayog/UN)