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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: New year 2020 dawned on today. But 1980's challenges of  poverty and hunger are still daunting Odisha.  The grip of hunger and poverty still acute in Odisha and the State languished in the bottom-10 in poverty and hunger elimination in the country.

As per the Sustainable Development Goals-Index 2019-20 released recently by Niti Aayog, in the SDG -1, which pertains to ending poverty, Odisha ranked in the bottom - 10. The State with a score of 47 has been ranked at number 8th among 36 states/UTs. Dadra & Nagar Haveli with a score of 33 ranked at the bottom.

Niti Aayog has developed a SDG-Index, whereby it ranked States on the goal of poverty elimination by evaluating 5-sub indicators, namely, percentage of population living below poverty line, percentage of population provided jobs under MGNREGA, proportion of households covered by any health scheme/health insurance, proportion of people receiving social benefit under maternity benefit scheme and proportion of population living in Katcha houses.

An analysis shows Odisha fared very poor in proportion of population below national poverty line with a score of mere 25; whereas the scores in percentage of population provided jobs under MGNREGA and proportion of households covered by any health scheme/health insurance stood at 46 and 42, respectively. The State scored an average score of 51 in the indicator of proportion of population living in Katcha houses.

However, Odisha scored country highest score of 72 in the indicator of proportion of people receiving social benefit under maternity scheme, courtesy  the Mamata Yojana.

The poor score and ranking of Odisha in SDG-1 (poverty eradication)is , therefore, attributed to below par scoring in the three indicators of poor count, poor job guarantee and health coverage.

In the SDG-2, which pertains to ending hunger, Odisha was ranked 7th from the bottom. The State's poor score is attributed to below par performance in proportion of underweight and stunted children. In anaemic children, the score of State is below 50.

When farming and farmer issues have become a topic of intense discussion, especially post the curtailment of KALIA scheme, the big revelation is poor showing by State' s farm sector has an effect in pulling down Odisha's overall ranking in SDG-2  of banishing hunger.

Sample this. Odisha was awarded a score of mere 11 and 17 in the indicators of annual foodgrain production per unit area (hectare) and gross value added in agriculture per worker, respectively.

What's the message of Niti's SDG Index 2019-20? The factors that sustains hunger and poverty are still conspicuous in Odisha. And in this new  year this is the biggest challenge before the Naveen Patnaik administration.  

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