India Needs to Improve Implementation of Social Schemes

By Anjali Ojha

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) India has done well in eradicating poverty, improving healthcare and primary education, but lax implementation of programmes has been the main hurdle in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), says a United Nations official, ahead of a high-level summit next week.

"It is a mixed bag," Minar Pimple, MDG Asia-Pacific Regional Director, told IANS in an interview.

"With seepage of funds and corruption, implementation of programmes is the problem. It is not that we don't have doctors or teachers; mobilising them to serve rural areas is the issue."

Pimple rebutted the views of some experts that India will miss most of the targets as only five years are left until the 2015 deadline.

"The statement that we are lagging behind in MDGs in not correct. We have done well in many fields like eradicating poverty, improving primary education and fighting diseases like AIDS, malaria and TB," he said.

Ten years have passed since 192 UN member- nations signed the Millennium Declaration that established the eight MDGs. These include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Over 150 heads of state or government will gather at the UN headquarters in New York next week to assess the status of the efforts to reach the MDGs targets and revitalise efforts to meet the eight goals by the 2015 deadline.

"With the level of development India claims we should have done better, but we must take a balanced look at the achievements and failures. There are areas where we have done well, but in other areas we have not done so

well," said the Bangkok-based Pimple, who was here to deliver a lecture on the MDGs.

Pimple, who has worked for more than 30 years on issues of poverty and socio-economic development in the region, said India has done well with increasing allocations to social sector schemes.

"India is not aid-dependent any more. It has its own resources which is growing with increased allocation for social programmes. We have one of world's biggest social security programmes in the form of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme," he said.

"Legislative initiatives like right to information, right to education, the under formulation food security bill, and the under discussion right to health are the steps in right direction towards achieving the development goals."

Pimple stressed that the programmes can never have the desired results without community participation, especially of youth. "More young people should come forward and spread awareness on the MDGs and how they can be achieved."

According to the India Country Report 2009, the review report on the development towards the MDGs, India lags far behind the goals in reducing maternal and child mortality, sanitation and gender empowerment.

"The year 2015 should not be an end to the MDG. They should not be seen as numeric figures to be achieved. Even if we don't reach the exact numbers, it will start a far-reaching journey for social equality," added Pimple.


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