India and Sustainability - What the World can Learn from Us

“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” is an Indian phrase that translates to “The world is one family,” and it reflects the idea of India as a place where people from every kind of background tend to relate to each other regardless. In fact, this notion about cooperation transcends all facets of life in India, including economic development.

From the Paris Climate Change Agreement to the passing of the National Green Tribunal Act, environmental protection is one of the most widely discussed issues in today’s world. Many businesses are looking to cut down on their carbon footprint by adapting to a more sustainable business model. 

India’s Sustainable Development Goals reflect the country's long-standing tradition and heritage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted in his speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit that these goals are based on the foundation laid by Mahatma Gandhi.

To quote him, “Much of India’s development agenda is mirrored in the Sustainable Development Goals. Our national plans are ambitious and purposeful; Sustainable development of one-sixth of humanity will be of great consequence to the world and our beautiful planet.”  

As the largest economy in South Asia, India plays a key role in providing aid and implementing projects to enhance her government's initiatives in social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Externally, the country has created coalitions with other countries to craft development programs for its people. Internally, it has launched several financial programs, which are aimed at helping the country reach its goals - for example, rural electrification efforts or expanding the clean renewable energy input into India's primary power grid system.

One of India's strengths that the world can take inspiration from is the ability to live in harmony with nature. India has lived by harmonizing with nature for thousands of years without the need for environmental protection laws. After all, ancient India's way of living was sustainable.

India is the world's second most populated country in the world. We are home to 1.25 billion people, out of which 742 million live in rural areas in India. But what most people fail to understand is that India is also home to sustainable communities, cities and villages that show the world that it's possible to be self-sufficient in the best possible way. 

The United Nations is currently holding a high-level event on sustainable development in New York, where heads of state including India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi are in attendance. As the fastest-growing major economy in the world today, India is uniquely positioned to help the UN achieve its bold Sustainable Development Goals while also tackling some of its own goals for sustainable development. 

  • End Poverty in All its Forms Everywhere
  • On this occasion, Shri Narendra Modi, in his statement, highlighted India's leadership in sustainable development. He said, "I firmly believe that in this 21st century, India's leadership in sustainable development will get us closer to an #EnvironmentForAll and an #EndPovertyForAll."

  • End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable and climate-adaptive agriculture has been a government priority. The government made a national movement towards organic farming and fought to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. As part of this, Soil Health Cards have been said to have helped increase the success rate of this program.

  • Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
  • The composite index is an instrument whose purpose is to monitor and incentivise improvements in health services delivery across states within the country. The government has set out to immunize all unimmunized and partially immunized children against vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020, towards achieving universal health coverage. Toward this effort, the government aims to extend a health insurance cover of INR 100,000 (USD 1,563) for poor families.

  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • According to India's National Commission for Women, numerous efforts are being taken to ensure women have equal rights, including the Beti Bachao-Beti Padao initiative, which aims to take care of the girl child in terms of educational opportunities and protection. The Maternity Benefits Programme also helps women in terms of protection in addition to job security when it comes to pregnancy in the case where one may have lost their job because of it. Several other programs are being implemented for increasing women’s role in the workforce.

  • Access to Nutritious Food
  • The food industry has come a long way in terms of food governance. It's been reported that almost 232 million ration cards have been digitized, and 77% of them have been linked to the Unique Identity number making it easier than ever for people to get access to nutritional information or even cash transfers designed to improve overall health and well-being.

    India is no stranger to economic growth. Currently, it is the fastest-growing major economy in the world. Even with many challenges, India wants to work with other countries to make sure that everyone around the globe has access to clean water and decent housing, as well as meeting their basic human needs. They are committed to making this happen within a short period by not only working on development goals but also collaborating with other countries that they might be able to help along the way.

    Stakeholders of all types are teaming together to promote inclusive India, inspired by Prime Minister Modi's iconic statement “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas!,” which translates to "Collective Effort, Inclusive Development."

    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is working closely with the NITI Aayog to implement the Health Index initiative. The goal of this initiative is to incentivize state governments by ranking them based on health indicators for public health services like maternal care, newborn care, child immunization, institutional deliveries, and more. This will push each state to compete against one another to analytically prioritize certain input parameters or services to deliver the highest value outcome for the state's population and create better communities where citizens can live healthier lives with their public health sector!