INDIA AND THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS The Finance Minister Shri P Chidambaram at the India Economic Summit held at New Delhi on3rd December 2007 asserted that India may miss out some of the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and that it is indeed possible to meet certain goals which may take another 3 to 4 years. The Millennium Development Goals, initiated by the United Nations,are a set of goals on 8 important challenges the developing nations faceeven today. The developed as well as the developing nations adopted the MDG in its entirity in 2000 and the target is set to achieve progress in the following areas by 2015 - 1. Eradicate poverty 2. Achieve universal primary education 3.Improve maternal health 4. Reduce child mortality 5. Promote gender equality 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases 7. Ensure environmental sustainability 8. Develop a global partership for development We cannot win overnight. Success will require sustained action across the entire decade between now and deadlines. United Nations Secretary General. The Tenth Plan by the Planning Commission made adequate provisions in its scope to embrace the targets set by the United Nations. The important issues dealt with in the Plan are- 1. Reduce poverty by at least 10 per cent by the year 2012. 2. Bring all the children to schools by 2003 3. The difference between the male and female literacy rate to be brought down by half 4. Bring the figure of infant mortality rates to 45 per 1000 by 2007 5. The incidence of death occurring on childbearing to reduce 1 per 1000 births by 2012 6. Access to safe drinking water to all by 2007 India has been successful in bringing down the poverty rates which is now 26 per cent as compared to 55 per cent in 1970 s. The economic reforms of 1991 has indeed lifted the standard of living in the country alongwith triggering a huge growth in GDP which currently grows at a rate closer to 9 percent. However, more than 15 per cent of the rich in India share 45 per cent of the nation s total income and the corresponding percent of poorest in the country share only 9 percent. India s presence in the global economy has improved significantly as seen in the Word Bank s placing the country as tenth largest economy. However, the vulnerable class of India - scheduled tribes and castes, rural class have barely felt the developments taking place around them. The 93rd Constitutional Amendment brought a sea change in the primary education front by making it compulsory the basic education of the children of age group 6 to 14. The changes that the legislation has brought in in the primary education sector can be felt by the fact that over 93 per cent children are in primary schools according to a recent survey. However, only disappointing fact is the enrolment of female children in schools whichis only 75 percent. The literacy rate of men is around 74 percent while the corresponding rate for the women is only 52 per cent as per the 2001 census. The gender inequality is prevalent in the counrty and this is reflected in all fronts. A recent study in states like madhya pradesh and rajasthanhas shown that among the rural households 98 per cent are in favour of sending the male child to school while this prejudice affects the girl child s career. Female literacy and awareness are directly correlated to infant mortality. Educated women remain healthy and take good care of the children. By educating the women the deaths related to childbearing can also be brought down as envisaged by the Tenth Plan. The figures taken from the recent studies show maternal deaths in Indiaaccounts 25 per cent of the child birth related deaths. India has always had a goodtrack record of disaster management as the experience has shown for us in the forms of tsunami and other natural calamities like floods and consequent famines. Famines are a rare feature of modern India. The fighting of AIDS and other related diseases have been the priority of India and the country has made tremendous progress in regard. The administraters of India have been spectacular in bringing 84 per cent of rural families and 95 percent of urban families access to safe drinking water. However, much remains to be still achievedalthough it is always half way through the targer year of 2015. The pace of the process has to be speedened up for which necessary cooperation from the developed countries in the form of debt relief are anticipated.