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Taming Poverty in India Post-COVID Pandemic

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as global agenda adopted in 2015 were part of the UN resolution, ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. India is committed to achieve the 17 SDGs and the 169 associated targets, which comprehensively cover social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. There is a clear focus on ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions as it is the first SDG (SDG 1) among all. As a prelude to this resolve the number of people living in extreme poverty globally declined from 36% in 1990 to 8.6% in 2018, but the pace of poverty reduction was decelerating as the world struggles to respond to entrenched deprivation, violent conflicts and vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Poverty incidence in India declined from 45.3% to 21.9% between 1993 and 2011. In the past decade also due to steady economic growth, poverty has declined further though there is a gap in poverty incidence across the states . As a major setback, COVID-19 has sent all socio-economic growth projections to toss. A major break in industrial, tourism and transport sectors outputs, return of low income daily wagers to their homes with re-employment in near future questionable, skyrocketing healthcare costs, grounding of stock markets, and uncertainty of optimal farm outputs, etc. makes it unlikely that we will be on course to decimate poverty. With the rightfully acknowledged status of COVID 19 fallout as “Disaster” the government has shown tremendous resolve to counter the fallout by range of socio-economic packages ranging from direct cash transfer to poor and farmers to free food to those who are suffering the most. Logic of global crisis says that developed world will be less likely able to fulfil its committed funding and other obligations to developing and least developed nations for reaching SDGs. Therefore, our governance standards will need to reach towering heights as the defining factor for taming poverty post-COVID

Authors: Dr. Ashok Jain (Principal Consultant, NITI Aayog, Government of India) and Dr. Rajan (Lead Strategist, REST)

Note: The views expressed in the article are personal to both authors

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