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Some Methodological Issues in India’s SDG Index Report 2019

The second edition (2019) of the Sustainable Development Goals Index India Report released by the NITI Aayog is an enhanced version that builds on the baseline report of 2018. However, the second edition could not address the methodological issues sufficiently. The justifications and coverage on several aspects, such as proxy indicator identification, target setting, state categorisation, imputation of indicators, data gaps are found to be weak. This commentary highlights some of the problems identified in the report and suggests possible solutions, which can bring more credibility and statistical acceptance to the future SDG index reports.

NITI Aayog launched the first edition of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index India Report in 2018 to measure India’s and its states’ progress towards the SDGs for 2030. It was meant to provide an aggregate assessment of performance of Indian states and union territories on social, economic and environmental parameters. Further, it was aimed to serve as a tool to benchmark progress, identify data issues, devise better policy strategies coupled with a sense of competitiveness among the states (NITI Aayog 2018). It was also one the first few attempts by a country to rank its subnational governments by using an index on SDGs (NITI Aayog 2019). The second edition of the report has been recently released. This is an enhanced version with 100 indicators covering 54 targets across 16 SDGs leaving SDG 17 as compared to the base version with 62 indicators covering 13 SDGs (leaving 12, 13, 14 and 17). This is a progressive sign with regard to larger coverage of goals, targets and indicators, and alignment with the National Indicator Framework (NIF), which serves as the backbone of SDG monitoring in the country (MoSPI 2019).

However, there is a need to critically analyse and relook at the methodology of SDG index and the policy implications it directs for the country. The following sections highlight some of the methodological issues and policy perspectives identified by the authors in the recent SDG Index India Report, 2019. The discussion also highlights possible solutions for each problem along with the relevant global context.

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Updated On : 17th Aug, 2020

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