Kerala retained the top slot while Bihar came out as the worst performer in NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2019, which assesses each state and Union Territory’s achievement regarding sustainable development goals (SDG) such as good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, reduction in hunger and poverty, among others.

Kerala had the top rank among states with a score of 70, while Bihar has lowest score of 50.

In terms of progress, Uttar Pradesh has emerged as the biggest gainer followed by Odisha. While UP saw an improvement in its overall score from 42 in 2018 to 55 in 2019, Odisha increased its overall score by 7 points.

As per the SDG India Index 2019, the composite score for each state/UT is computed by aggregating their performance across the goals, and then by taking the arithmetic mean of individual goal scores. A score of 100 implies that the State/ UT has achieved targets set for 2030; a score of 0 implies that the particular State/UT is at the bottom of the table. Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim have shown maximum improvement, as per the report for second year released by NITI Aayog on Monday. This first such report was released in 2018.

Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh are the worst performing states in this year’s index. “India is making impressive progress in SDG implementation through well-designed programmes of the Government of India such as Poshan Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission), Aayushman Bharat (National Health Protection Scheme), Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Care for the Girl Child) and Aspirational Districts Programme,” NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said. “The Index has reinforced the spirit of competitive good governance among the States and Union Territories, which are ranked on the basis of their achievements on the SDGs and their targets,” he said.

“The United Nations’ SDG target of 2030 can never be met without India… We are fully committed to achieving UN’s SDG target,” NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said at the launch of the report. The report measures a total of 16 goals and then arrives at a composite SDG for each state and UT.

In 2018 index, only three states, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, were placed in the category of front runners — with a score in the range of 65-99. In 2019, five more States joined this league — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Sikkim and Goa, taking the total tally to eight.

India’s composite score improved from 57 in 2018 to 60 in 2019 with major success in water and sanitation, power and industry. However, nutrition and gender continue to be problem areas for India, requiring more focused approach from the government.

With regard to poverty reduction, states which have done well include Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim. On zero hunger parameters, Goa, Mizoram, Kerala, Nagaland and Manipur were the front runners, according to the report.

The SDG India Index, launched last year by NITI Aayog with the help of United Nations took into account 16 out of 17 goals specified by the United Nations as SDGs .

There has been variation in improvement levels among states. Uttar Pradesh, for example, has improved its overall score from 42 in 2018 to 55 in 2019, and is the highest gainer. The biggest improvement has been on the front of affordable and clean energy, where the jump has been by 40 points. Scores in clean water and sanitation and on industry, innovation, and infrastructure, have climbed by 39 and 34 points, respectively, for the state.

Odisha stands second in overall improvement, with an increase of 7 points, from 51 to 58. The goal relating to industry, innovation, and infrastructure has contributed highest to the rise with a jump of 40 points.

Sikkim is the third best state in overall improvement: from a score of 58 to that of 65, indicating an increase by 7 points. In goal of affordable and clean energy, the state recorded an increase by 55 points. In goal of industry, innovation and infra, Sikkim has made a jump of 26 points. Performance in goal relating to sustainable cities and communities, has been by 18 points, which is the third biggest contributor to Sikkim’s improvement. The improvement in clean water and sanitation is driven by the success of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan in eliminating open defecation, the report said.

The year 2020 will be the fifth anniversary of the adoption of SDGs by 193 countries at the UN General Assembly. The SDGs, constituted through an unprecedented consultative process, have 17 goals and 169 related targets to be achieved by 2030. The Index has been developed by NITI Aayog in coordination with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, United Nations in India and Global Green Growth Institute.

UN Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien said the world is entering final decade for achieving the SDGs — the Decade for Action. The SDG India Index 2.0 and the dashboard enables India to both track and encourage accelerated progress to meet the SDGs across all its states and UTs, she said at the launch of the report.