Karnataka govt fumes at Niti Aayog over ranking

Karnataka govt fumes at Niti Aayog over ranking

Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar

When the Niti Aayog released its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index last month, Karnataka was in for a surprise. It’s score on several parameters was lower in 2019 compared with 2018.

According to the SDG indicators, the state’s score had dropped on poverty, hunger, quality education and industry, innovation & infrastructure among other goals.

But here’s the twist: the state government says the Niti Aayog data is wrong, blaming “data mismatch” as the reason for its poor show in some  indicators. 

Shocked and embarrassed, the state government has now decided to tell the Niti Aayog that things are not as bad. 

There are 17 SDG that the UN adopted in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030.

During a review to discuss the matter, Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar found that the data Niti Aayog relied upon was wrong. “I don’t know on what basis we were scored and what database they used,” he told DH. “I am writing to Niti Aayog about the fact that their source of data is incorrect.” 

Incorrect data has affected the state’s overall score, which nonetheless went up from 64 in 2018 to 66 last year. 

“For instance, the number of habitations connected to the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is shown as zero. It should be 100, because we’ve already covered 100% of the habitations with rural roads,” Bhaskar pointed out. “It could be that we have no new projects under the scheme, because we have met the targets, and that has affected the score.” The PMGSY is a key metric to measure poverty alleviation. 

Likewise, Bhaskar said the Niti Aayog had wrong data on internet penetration in the state.

“Internet connectivity in the state is shown as 10% against the national average of 38%. But internet connectivity in Karnataka is 44%,” Bhaskar said. Internet penetration is calculated based on internet subscribers per 100 population. 

Such “underreporting” happened across departments including women & child development, health, social welfare, rural development & panchayat raj that hurt Karnataka’s score.

Bhaskar has directed all secretaries, heads of departments, to find out the source of Niti Aayog’s data. Plus, there are some inherent data gaps that the Planning, Programme Monitoring & Statistics department has been asked to rectify. 

The SDG India Index tracks progress of all states across various indicators. A composite score is computed in the range of 0–100 for each state based on its aggregate performance across SDGs, indicating the average performance towards achieving them. 

Karnataka (66) is behind Kerala (70), Himachal Pradesh (69), Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana (all 67).