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Review: How does India’s NIF Compare with GIF for SDGs?


The 2023 progress report for the national indicators identified for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals was recently released by MoSPI. MoSPI constituted a High-Level Steering Committee (HLSC) to regularly review and refine the National Indicator Framework with a view to including additional indicators and modifying or deleting the existing indicators.

In 2015, all the member states of the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which gives a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. A total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which constitute the core of the 2030 Agenda were also adopted. The SDGs are a comprehensive list of global goals integrating social, economic, and environmental dimensions of development. The 17 goals are interlinked, and each goal has targets that countries should meet by 2030 in order to achieve the goal. For each target, there are measurable indicators which help countries regularly monitor and evaluate their performance and take appropriate actions to ensure they are on the right track to achieve the goal.

231 unique indicators have been included in the Global Indicators to monitor SDGs

The Global Indicator Framework (GIF) for SDGs, as the title implies, is a framework of indicators that facilitates the global monitoring of the 169 targets of the 17 SDGs and allows guiding actions towards the achievement of the goals by 2030. It consists of a total of 248 indicators of which 231 are unique as some indicators may be used to measure progress towards multiple goals. These indicators are designed to be measurable, easily understandable, and relevant to the specific targets of each goal. They cover a wide range of topics from poverty eradication, education, health, gender equality, clean energy, and climate action, to sustainable consumption and production.

MoSPI developed the National Indicator Framework in 2018 

In India, recognizing the significance of monitoring & tracking the progress of SDGs, and the need for reliable data for the same, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Government of India developed a National Indicator Framework (NIF). This monitoring and evaluation framework was introduced in 2018 and consisted of 306 national indicators along with identified data sources and periodicity after due consultation with concerned Ministries, Departments, UN Agencies, and other stakeholders.

The NIF includes indicators that align with the SDG global indicators and includes indicators which are tailored to suit India’s specific requirements. The NIF specifies the data sources and periodicity for each indicator. The data sources for the indicators used in the NIF include official government statistics from different surveys, administrative data, and various censuses. The responsibility for collecting and reporting data lies with various line Ministries & Departments. In 2019, the Ministry also issued a circular with guidelines for states to develop their own State Indicator Framework. Most states have developed the same. 

Just like the GIF, NIF too is evolving in nature. MoSPI constituted a High-Level Steering Committee (HLSC) to regularly review and refine the NIF with a view to including additional indicators and modifying or deleting the existing indicators. The committee includes members from various Ministries, NITI & Aayog.

Number of indicators dropped from 306 in 2019 to 284 in 2023

As of June 2023, there are 284 indicators in the NIF. Every year, indicators are added or removed from the NIF as part of refining by the HLSC committee. For instance, under Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals, there were no indicators in 2019 when the total number of indicators considered was the highest – 306 indicators. However, in the subsequent year, in 2020, 13 indicators were considered, and in 2023, only 12 were included. Likewise, in the case of Goal 15: Life on Land, the number of indicators dropped from 21 to 14 in the five years while for Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, 16 indicators were dropped in the same period. A comparison of the number of indicators for each of the 17 goals under NIF and GIF is shown in the following chart.

Of the 284 indicators, about 140 can be partially or exactly mapped with the global indicators. 37 indicators are partially related to the global indicators while the remaining 103 are exactly the same as the global indicators. 

India is ranked 112 out of 162 countries globally

As the world is at the midpoint of implementing the SDGs & the 2030 Agenda, tracking the current progress is critical. According to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in 2023, India has been ranked 112 out of 162 countries in terms of the SDG Index with a score of 63.45 out of 100. Compared to 2019, India’s position has improved by 3 and its score by around 3 points. Finland ranks first with a score of 86.76 followed by Sweden with a score of 85.98. Out of the 193 member states, South Sudan ranks the lowest (166) with a score of 38.68. Among South and East Asian nations, India is ranked 16 out of the total 19 countries in this region which have been scored. Pakistan and Myanmar, both with the lowest score in the region, are the only neighbouring countries that stand below India in the rankings. Among the BRICS nations, India is at the bottom. 

India’s progress is on track for only 2 out of 17 goals

According to the Global SDG report for 2023, India’s performance with respect to only 2 Goals is on track – Goal 1: No Poverty and Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production. While India’s progress in Goal 15: Life on Land and Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities has decreased, the performance has been stagnant for Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities, Goal 13: Climate Action & Goal 18: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions. For the remaining 9 Goals, India’s progress has only improved moderately.

The Lancet study, ‘Progress on Sustainable Development Goal indicators in 707 districts of India: a quantitative mid-line assessment using the National Family Health Surveys, 2016 and 2021’ emphasized concerning trends with respect to 19 out of 33 SDG indicators assessed. For indicators such as Access to Basic Services, Wasting and Overweight Children, Anaemia, Child Marriage, Partner Violence, Tobacco Use, and Modern Contraceptive Use, it was observed that more than 75% of the districts covered in the study were off target. Moreover, most of these districts were in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. 

The progress report for the national indicators for 2023 recently released by MoSPI highlighted the gains made in certain indicators under each goal. Some achievements highlighted are the decline in underweight and stunted children, increase in gross enrolment ratio, and improvement in Maternal Mortality Ratio & Under 5 Mortality Ratio, among others. However, there are some indicators such as the prevalence of anaemia among women and children that has increased, a significant share of persons spending 10 to 25% of their income on healthcare, increase in the gender wage gap, among others. These need to be identified and drawn attention to, for India to be able to meet the SDG targets in the next seven years. The pandemic has stalled the progress of most countries and concerted efforts should be made to overcome the additional challenges on account of the pandemic.  


About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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