Th. Binoy Kumar Singha
We must recall that the 21st century began with two historic events of United tions; ONE, the new initiatives by poor and rich tions in fulfilling a long unfinished agenda of full human development and human rights for all; and TWO, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which emated from the Millennium Declaration adopted by all the member-countries at the UN Millennium Submit held in 2000. The eight MDGs adopted by the UN are – to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality; empower women and reduce child mortality; improve materl health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustaibility; and develop a global partnership for development. By 2015, the UN MDGs are expected to be realized to end poverty, promote human dignity and equality, and to take steps in furtherance of the attack on idequate incomes, widespread hunger, gender inequality, environmental deterioration and lack of education, health care and clean water to see human development and human rights in action.
After the era of MDGs is completed in December, 2015, the world is moving towards the Third (3rd) historical event of the UN, that is, the 17 Sustaible Development Goals (SDGs) beginning January, 2016 which is becoming more significant for the next 15 years to come with the key document of UN Conference on Sustaible Development the so-called Rio + 20 titled “The Future We Want”, in which the idea of a new agenda for post-2015 era was posted. However, the seventieth UN General Assembly adopted an expansive and ambitious set of 17 Sustaible Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets and 304 indications on 25th September, 2015 under the official agenda “Transforming our World : the 2030 Agenda for Sustaible Development, that aim to “end poverty in all its forms” by 2030. The Government of India is one of the sigtories of this Resolution. These 17 SDGs are - (1) End poverty in all forms; (2) end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustaible agriculture; (3) ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages; (4) ensure inclusive and equitable quality education; (5) achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; (6) ensure availability and sustaible magement of water and sanitation for all ; (7) ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustaible and modern energy for all; (8) promote sustained, inclusive and sustaible and modern economic growth, full and productive employment; (9) build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustaible industrialization and foster innovation; (10) reduce inequality within among countries; (11) make cities and human settlements inclusive safe, resilient and sustaible; (12) ensure sustaible consumption and production patterns; (13) take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; (14) conserve and sustaibly use the oceans, seas and marine resources; (15) protect, restore and promote sustaible use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustaibly mage forests, combat desertification, and halt biodiversity loss; (16) promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustaible development, provide access to justice for all and build effective accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; (17) strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustaible development. These SDGs are to be achieved between January 2016 and December 2030. Keeping in pace with the above, Assam also launched the “Assam – 2030 Initiatives” to achieve the identified SDGs with a Road Map to achieve the Goals. However, a review of the achievement of the MDGs over the past one and half decade (15 years) appears that the beginning has been started in India and so also in the state. Therefore, we are hopeful that the SDGs will be able to overcome the disgruntled items of the MDGs. Even so, we must, by-and-large agree that the afford to eradicate extreme poverty, which is the Agenda No. 1 of MDGs, could be more or less achieved as expected. A glaring official paradigm is the tiol Food Security Act that has been ected in 2013 and implemented recently on 24th December, 2015. Under this Act, rice grains are distributed at an affordable price of Rs.3/- per kg. to the poor families and Rs.5/- per kg. to the AAY Ration Card Holder families which is quite affordable even for a poorest family.
Now the afford should be to make “end poverty in all forms” as included as Agenda No.1, in the 17 SDGs. We may recall Mahatma Gandhi who said : “poverty is the worse form of violence.” It is a common knowledge that wars produce hunger. But it seems that we are less aware of the fact that hunger can lead to great war. Therefore, it is irguable that hunger and peace cannot coexist. Poverty, as we have seen, encompasses not only lack of income but also lack of health care, education, access to political participations, decent work and security. All these factors are interdependent and therefore have to be addressed simultaneously if efforts to reduce poverty are to be made effective. Besides, a decent standard of living, adequate nutrition, health care and other social and economic achievements are not just Development Goals, they are Human Rights inherent in human freedom and dignity. It is worth mentioning here that in the 21st century, the consent of Human Rights in its expanding comprehension have reached the Third Generation Rights(TGRs), which includes right to self-determition, right regarded as belonging to people rather than individuals, and right to development as well as rights to disadvantaged groups for special protection. Other factors which encompasses lack of income, health care, education, access to political participation, decent work and security and more recently the Swachh Bharat Mission, replicating in the state as Swachh Asom Mission also need to be addressed. Apart from tion Health Mission (NRHM), belated launching of “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014 to protect children from 7 dreaded diseases supported by WHO, UNICEF and other NGOs, which ended December, 2015 was a good step in health sector. But its success must be reviewed. The services of 108, 102 Ambulance could also reach the underprivileged/unreached areas. In respect of employment generation, apart from Self Help Groups, the state agencies like tiol Institute of Rural Development under Union Government, and State Institutes of Rural Development in the States, Rural Livelihood Mission, Urban Livelihood Mission, setting up of Skill Development Institutes, MGNREGA etc. could go a long way to sustain at least to some extent. Launching of JNNURM Low Floor Bus services is quite resourceful to unemployed youths. Rural Self Employment Training Institute set up recently at Dibrugarh under the sponsorship of United Bank of India, Dibrugarh with Govt. of India and the State Government will also definitely contribute in the long run. In this regard, awareness amongst the mass need to be more involved. In education sector, Right to Education Act is the paradigm to achieve the target of cent percent literacy. Of course, quality education should be an aspect to that. We must appreciate the achievement of Assam as ranked No. 1 in Infrastructure among Big States and 7th (up from 19th position) in the India Today Annual State of the States Survey – 2015. Moreover, now that the Food Security Act has been implemented, hopefully there will be no more extreme poverty. But sustaible efforts shall be necessary to formulate to eradicate poverty completely within the target of December 2030, as already included in the Agenda No.1 of SDGs.
All said and done, the kick-off of the SDGs on January, 2016 will definitely bring an end of the era of MDGs and sustain the SDGs with its 17 Goals. However, the differences between the MDGs and SDGs that while the MDGs focused primarily on poverty and health, SDGs also cover the environment, human rights, and gender equality, among others. MDGs were primarily targets for poor countries to work forward, with fincing from wealth countries, while SDGs demand action from all countries. The SDGs are universal. They are supposed to apply to all countries and try to overcome the West lecturing the rest; dymic, as said by Sarah Hearn, NYU’s Center on Intertiol Cooperation. The MDGs were drafted by a small team of technical experts at UN HQs, while the SDGs were drafted over years by an intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) that comprised representatives of 70 countries. Sarah Hearn says, “the SDGs are a shift in the paradigm for intertiol development,” The MDGs were about resource transfer from rich countries. However, the switchover from Millennium Development Goals to Sustaible Development Goals which kickoff January, 2016 is although a far reaching sustaible afford, but at least let the beginning be started. India rightly kickoff these 17 SDGs on January 2016 with 169 targets and 304 indications in its true spirit to fully achieve by December 2030. So also the states. Therefore, we may truly construe that this is the end of MDGs’ Era and beginning of the SDGs epoch.