The very institutions in India that are supposed to drive the efforts to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are apathetic to the global agenda, experts said at an ongoing international conference here on Sunday.
"Our governmental institutions are not adequately appreciative of the global goals," said development economist Rajeev Malhotra, who participated as an expert in framing the SDGs.
Seen as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015, the SDGs, officially known as "Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", were adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit held from September 25-27 in New York.
Among their stated 17 goals, the SDGs aim to eradicate poverty and hunger, improve health for all and ensure equitable quality education for all.
"From my own experience of working with the government, I can say that the bureaucracy in India is not sensitive enough to pursue these global goals with all seriousness," Malhotra, who served as economic advisor to the union finance minister in the past, said at the conference organised by O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana.
"They think they are already working towards these goals anyway. They often do not appreciate the value addition that international engagement brings to the agenda of sustainable development," Malhotra, who is currently a professor at Jindal School of Development and Public Policy, told IANS.
Enumerating the challenges to achieving the SDGs, Dr. A.K. Shiva Kumar, director of the International Centre for Human Development (ICHD), here pointed out that while one of the goals listed in SDGs is to achieve growth that is inclusive and sustainable, how to achieve this goal has not been outlined.
This is a strategic challenge among others such as political, financing and evaluation challenges, he said.
However, Sandeep Dikshit, former MP, noted that the issue of finance required to achieve the SDGs is just a "hoax".
Comparing the amount of money the government spends on the salaries of the employees and on its own welfare with that of just one percent of GDP invested in public health, it is clear that the issue of finance is not a big deal, Dikshit said.
The real concern is of gradual withdrawal of the state from the welfare schemes meant to meet the basic needs of the larger section of the population, he pointed out at a panel discussion of the conference titled "The Future of Sustainable Development Goals".
The two-day international conference inaugurated by C. Raj Kumar, vice chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University, and Robin Lewis, president, International Development and Public Policy Alliance (IDPPA), is being attended by scholars from across India and the world.