File photo of the Outer Ring Road in Bengaluru | PTI
File photo of the Outer Ring Road in Bengaluru | PTI
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New Delhi: Bengaluru is the best and only city in the country that is providing decent jobs and ensuring economic growth, shows the first Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Urban Index released Tuesday by Niti Aayog, the country’s economic think-tank. 

Overall, however, it is Shimla that is ensuring sustainable development, as it has topped the index based on 15 parameters.  

The Himachal capital managed the highest score of 75.5, followed by Coimbatore (73.29), Thiruvananthapuram (72.36), Chandigarh (72.36) and Kochi (72.29). India’s coal capital Dhanbad scored the worst (52.43); Meerut (54.64), Itanagar (55.29), Guwahati (55.79) and Patna (57.29) make up the bottom five. 

The maximum score a city can achieve is 100. A score between 65 and 99 categorises a city as a ‘front-runner’, cities scoring between 50-64 were called ‘performers’, those scoring below 50 were considered ‘aspirants’.

The cities ranked according to SDGs | ThePrint
The cities ranked according to SDGs | ThePrint

Jobs and economic growth

The United Nations in 2015 adopted 17 SDGs “as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity”. Of these, the Niti Aayog’s SDG Urban Index excluded two — life under water and partnership for goals.

Of the 15 sustainable goals, the 8th is based on providing decent work and economic growth. This particular goal is based on 12 targets, which include providing equal pay for equal value, reducing unemployment and promoting a safe work environment.

Bengaluru was the only city, of the 56 cities surveyed, which managed the ‘front-runner’ category with a score of 79. The second best city in this particular goal was Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur (64), followed by Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun (59) and Goa’s capital Panaji (59) — but they were still in the performer’s category, far from achieving the goals. Of the 56 cities scanned by the NITI Aayog, only 13 scored above 50. 

Except Bengaluru, most big cities in India fail to address this particular goal.

Kolkata received a score of just three out of 100 in providing decent jobs and economic growth, the lowest score achieved by any city in the country. Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, scored 17 and so did Bihar’s capital Patna. 

Gujarat’s Ahmedabad (26) and Surat (28), all the seven cities in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana’s capital Hyderabad (48), national capital Delhi (45), Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai (36) all scored below 50, putting them in the ‘aspirant’ category. 

How cities fared on various parameters | ThePrint
How cities fared on various parameters | ThePrint

Beyond jobs

The goal-wise assessment of the cities reveals the real problems our cities face in terms of achieving the SDGs. While the average score of all cities with decent jobs was 38, the second goal — Zero Hunger — which aims at “ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture”, also remains the second biggest challenge for our cities.

About 29 of the 56 cities in this category scored below 50 with Indore scoring the worst (22), followed by Raipur, Kolkata and Varanasi. Under this goal, Kochi (80), Imphal (73) and Kohima (70) topped the charts.

The ninth goal of the SDGs — Industry, innovation and infrastructure — which is aimed at “promoting sustainable industrialisation, building resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation”,  is the third biggest problem for India’s cities, with nearly half of them (22 cities) scoring below 50. Under this goal, Kochi scored the worst with 19 while Surat had the best score of 78. 

The sustainable development goals are to be achieved by 2030 by UN member states. At present, however, no country in the world has achieved them yet but Finland, Sweden and Denmark have achieved about 85 per cent of the goals.

India, at present, stands at 120th position in achieving these goals, much behind its neighbours, according to the Sustainable Development Goals Rankings 2021. 

China, India’s strongest competitor, has already achieved 72 per cent of the SDGs while India has achieved only 60 per cent, placing it behind its neighbours Bangladesh (63 per cent), Myanmar (65 per cent), Nepal (66 per cent), Sri Lanka (68 per cent), and Bhutan (70 per cent). Pakistan is the only neighbour lagging behind India in achieving these goals.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)


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