SDG 16 India : The Journey So Far!
Author : Jagriti Vij
Jagriti is the winner of The Woke Lawyer x Confederation of Young Leaders UN75 Article Writing Competition.
THE GOAL 16: AN OVERVIEW
With the end goal of pulling out poverty from the face of the earth and guaranteed peace and prosperity by 2030, a universal call was made in 2015, and the Global Goals, a.k.a. Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations Member States.
Such SDGs are designed to bring about several life-altering ‘zeros’, like zero poverty, zero hunger, and zero discrimination against women & girls et al.
Out of all of the 17 global goals adopted therein, ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ is the penultimate goal.
But What Comes in the Realm of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions?
Achieving the end goal is nearly impossible if there is no sense of stability, peace, assurance of effective governance and ensuring of human rights. And all of that, and more, can be achieved solely based on the rule of law. Henceforth, the one primary focus of the member states should be on framing and/or reforming of national and international policies and additionally focalize its rightful implementation. Special attention should be given to areas where cycles of conflict and violence exist.
As a country’s development is destructively affected by such insecurity and (armed) violence, which in turn lead to a state with rampant crimes, for instance, sexual violence, exploitation and torture, adoption of Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions as one of the SDGs was indispensable.
INDIA’S STANCE ON THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS
● THE RULE OF LAW:
‘Equality before law’ is a paramount concept existing since the inception of the idea of justice which can only be attained with good governance and ‘warranted’ rule of law.
An independent agency by the name of World Justice Project has ranked India 69th out of 128 countries worldwide on the ‘Global Rule of Index 2020’, inferring the attempts being made to dilute the rule of law in India.
The parameters based on which the said agency concludes its ranking are Corruption, Fundamental Rights, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice and Criminal Justice.
Extra-judicial killing is outright against the rule of law and India has seen a fair share of it in the recent past (Ref: the infamous Bhopal jail encounter and Telangana encounter). Yet another incident of threat to the rule of law was when Google and Facebook disclosed that the government had sought information on accounts of its users.
As for civil and criminal justice, there has been a huge backlog of cases, with more than 96 lakh civil cases pending in district and taluka courts, and around 36 lakh in high courts, as per the National Judicial Data Grid. The undue delay in filing of the FIR and conducting half-hearted investigation continue to act as a plague in the criminal justice system, after all these years.
● EFFICACY OF GOVERNANCE:
High-quality performance of the state and its organs is what citizens look up to, all over the world. It also allows for maximum returns on investment. And that is befittingly what good governance stands for. Good and effective governance is where the state endeavours to secure empowerment, justice, full employment, and top-notch delivery of services to its citizens.
A plethora of steps has been taken by the Government of India, which throws light on its initiatives to be an effective government, like the National E-Governance Plan that was formulated with a vision to make all government-provided services accessible to each and every citizen of the country, via e-media. As a matter of fact, even the motto of the plan is ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. Other such programmes/plans are the ‘Make in India', ‘Start-up India’, and the ‘Skill India Mission’, among various others.
On 25th December 2019, Minister of State for Personnel, Jitendra Singh, launched the ‘Good Governance Index’ with the sole purpose to assess the status of governance and the impact of interventions taken up by the Central/State government(s), including Union Territories.
● ACCOUNTABILITY AND ANSWERABILITY:
In simple terms, accountability is the obligation of the authorities and the power-holders to take responsibility and be answerable for their actions and/or behaviour. The concept stems out of ‘moral need’ and is relational in the sense that it concerns those who act and those who are affected by it. For any and all social systems to work, it is an absolute essential.
It is well-acknowledged that there is a serious lack of accountability in the governance in India—couple it with blame-game and it’s a recipe for ‘destructive economy’ right there. The present scenario is owing to the fact that the framework for ensuring external accountability of the policymakers is limited, and additionally, the policy-making process is insulated by internal accountability. Following this, the public has no means of access to information on how (or on what basis) the decisions are made.
● AN ALL-INCLUSIVE SOCIETY:
A society should be all-inclusive of different forms of classes, genders, race, chiefly by ensuring full participation in all of the spheres and domains. Experiencing a sense of belonging and being accepted within the communities is what social beings yearn for. In fact, social inclusion is an important factor in ‘determination of health’, as per the New Brunswick Association for Community Living.
With an estimated 300 million below the poverty line, 273 million illiterates, and 40% of the world’s undernourished children, India doesn’t seem to be as inclusive—a society—as it claims to be.
Among 79 developing economies, India has been ranked 60thin the Inclusive Development Index, as per the WEF Report of 2017. Shockingly, only 6% of the poor have access to tap water, in comparison to 33% of the non-poor. To add to it, only 21% of the poor have access to latrines, with 62% of the non-poor having access to it. The statistics point-blank bring us to the conclusion that India lags far behind to fulfil the UN conditions of an inclusive society.
With the largest electoral democracy in the world, India sure is capable of growth by leaps and bounds. Ground-breaking innovations are needed at major fronts to make goods and services accessible to all, and affordable to even the poorest of the lot. Furthermore, the commitment and calibre of the public servants play a dominant role in the quality of performance of the nation.
For decades, India has been strong-willed in the race to become a superpower, but this vision can only see the light of reality if the leaders take everyone along—instead of just a handful.
1. Balmiki Prasad Singh, “The Challenge of Good Governance in India: Need for Innovative Approaches” (April, 2008), available at: https://www.innovations.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/103461.pdf
3. Business World, “A Vision of India’s Future” (November 29, 2020), available at: http://www.businessworld.in/article/A-Vision-Of-India-s-Future/13-01-2017-111389/
4. https://indianfolk.com/can-make-india-inclusive/#:~:text=India%20has%20been%20ranked%2060th,a %20WEF%20report%20of%202017.
5. UNDP India, “Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”, available at: