* Targets of reducing poverty and giving access to drinking water on track.

* Maternal mortality and gender equity standards likely to be missed.

* Target of reducing under-nourished children may be missed.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed upon by member-countries of the United Nations under the Millennium Declaration during 2000. As the deadline of MDGs comes to a close in 2015, IndiaSpend’s Prachi Salve looks at the progress made by India so far.

Out of the 8 MDGs and 12 targets, India is on track for 4 targets, moderately on track on 3, slow or almost off track on 4 and one undetermined because of lack of data, according to the 2011 report by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.

Let us look at the MDGs with the intended targets that have measurable outcomes and progress made to date:

Table 1: Millennium Goals

MDG TargetsProgress so far
MDG 1 : Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Target 1: Halve the percentage of population below the national poverty line of 1990 by 2015Moderately on track
Target 2: Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger of 1990 by 2015Slow or almost off-track
MDG 2:Achieve Universal Primary Education
Target 3: Ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary education by 2015On track
MDG 3 : Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education no later than 2015Moderately on track
MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality
Target 5: Reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate of 1990 by 2015Slow
MDG 5:Improve Maternal Health
Target 6: Reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio of 1990 by 2015Slow
MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Target 7: Halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015Moderately on track
Target 8: Halt and reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases by 2015Slow
MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into the country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resourcesOn track
Target 10: Halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015On track
Target 11: Achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020Not discernable statistically
MDG 8: Develop Global Partnership for Development
Target 12: Make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication, in co-operation with the private sectorOn track

Source: MOSPI

According to the government report on MDGs, some targets -- like developing a global partnership for development and ensuring environmental sustainability --are on track in India. Reducing poverty and hunger and access to education and drinking water are also on track but the targets for food security, maternal mortality and gender equity standards are likely to be missed. So, that is the big picture… let us now look at the individual goals and targets:

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

An expert committee headed by Prof. Suresh Tendulkar was appointed to look at the definition of poverty line. The definition was revised by the committee, and it was found that the poverty head count ratio (HCR) had declined by 7.3% from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% 2009-10. Going at the pace at which poverty is declining, India is likely to miss the MDG target of poverty HCR of 23.9% by 2015.

Children defined as “under-nourished” has reduced from 43% to 40% in 2005-06. There needs to be a reduction of another 7% in order to reach the target of 33% by 2015. Can India meet the target?

MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

This goal seems around the corner. The national enrollment rate (NER) has increased from 83% in 2004-05 to 98.3% in 2009-10. The goal is achieving 100% NER for girls and boys aged 6-10 years by 2015.

MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

The gender parity index (GPI) shows that it has been nearly achieved in primary education and is slowly increasing in secondary education. The GPI in primary education is 1.00 (which means equal number of males and females are enrolled in primary education). While the secondary education gender parity is at 0.88, the parity widens even further in higher education to 0.75.

Another way to look at empowerment of women is their role in wage employment. The share of women in wage employment has remained constant around 18.6% in the non-agriculture sector since 2004-05. At the current growth rate, it may reach 23.1% by 2015 while the target would be 50%.

MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality

In 2010, the under-five mortality rate was 59 deaths per 1,000 live births. But this rate was achieved over a period of 10 years and it is being estimated that the rate of decline will only be 5 points by 2015. This shows that the improvement is not enough to meet the MDG target of 42 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in 2009 was 47 per 1,000 live births but the rate of decline for the past decade has been only 1.65%. So, with that rate, India will achieve IMR of 44 by 2015 while the target is 27.

MDG 5: Reduce Maternal Mortality

According to the sample registration survey (SRS), the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined from 327 in 1991-2001 to 212 in 2007-09. The overall decline from 1990 to 2009 was 51%. Judging from these patterns, the estimated MMR in 2015 will be 139 per 100,000 live births, and India will miss the target of 109 per 100,000 live births by 30 points.

Safe motherhood depends on the availability of medical facilities or trained professionals in the area. The coverage of institutional medical facilities has increased only to 47% in 2007-08 from 26% in 1992-93. While the number of professionals (like midwives) increased by 19% during the same period from 33% to 52%, the estimated rate of deliveries by trained professionals would only be 62% by 2015 - much less than the 100% coverage target set by MDG 5.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases

The estimated prevalence of HIV among adults in India was 0.32% in 2008, and has been reduced marginally to 0.31% in 2009. The HIV prevalence rate in pregnant women (age 15-24) also declined from 0.86% in 2004 to 0.48% in 2008.

Malaria cases have declined consistently from 2.08 million in 2001 to 1.6 million in 2010. In the case of tuberculosis, there has been an increase in the number of patients registering for treatment from 1.29 million in 2005 to 1.52 million in 2010.

So, while India is on track to meet the target of halting the spread of HIV by 2015, the spread of tuberculosis is a concern.

MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

India has seen an increase in the forest cover by about 1,128 sq. km during 2007-2011. The total area covered by national parks and wildlife sanctuaries has increased from 155,961.06 sq. km in 1999 to 156,659.08 sq. km in 2011. So, the country is on track to maintaining ecological balance…

The current trend shows that 87% households in the country have access to drinking water – surpassing the target of 50% stated by the MDG.

According to Census 2011, 53% do not have access to sanitation facilities. At the current rate of progress, India will not be able to reach the MDG target of 43% households with no sanitation facilities.

MDG 8: Develop Global Partnership for Development

The goal is supposed to ensure that the advances in technology, especially information technology, are well distributed among the people. The tele-density (calculated as the number of telephones per 100 persons) has reached 75.48 as of September 2011. The internet subscriber base zoomed from 0.21 million in 1999 to 21 million in 2011.

India’s MDG progress is a mixed bag of highs and lows. The report shows that although India is making headway in the fields of poverty reduction, universal access to education, environment and developing communications coverage, it seems to be lagging in important areas like nutrition, infant mortality and maternal mortality.