Sustainable Development: Challenges faced by the world: An open letter to the Hon. Prime Minister of India.

Hon Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi -100 001

Dear Hon Prime Minister,

  1.  Please recall that we had several letters exchanged since you assumed office as PM. Most of them were of general in nature and a few were specific policy suggestions like the renaming of the erstwhile Planning Commission.
  2.  As it is two years now you are in office, I thought of submitting a few issues for your perusal and follow up as a concerned citizen.
  3. You could whip up tremendous national pride among our millions by your address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th Aug in 2014 and 2015. Your overseas visits did bring about enhanced image building for India and respectability too. Make in India and start-ups as w ell as clean India are laudable.
  4. The huge expectations brought about in the minds of the millions are to be sustained with matching follow up actions. It seems people get disillusioned soon with the euphoria created by the rhetoric unless concrete actions are there to lend credibility to see for themselves. After all seeing is believing.
  5. Statesmanship is different from political leadership. You are the PM of all Indians not of the BJP only. I wish you had this discretion while addressing the Indian diaspora in America recently.
  6. Political sagacity and prudence must be your eyes and ears to render good governance and to administer justice freely and fairly to one and all Hon PM.
  7. Let me draw your attention to the following issues as it may help you perform better:
  8. Commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be understood as the logical corollary of the MDGs. It aims at a paradigm shift with a view to fostering peace and prosperity with poverty elimination coupled with empowering millions. It may be recalled that more than 750 million adults in the world are illiterate and two thirds of them are women with some 124 million children are out of schools.
    There are 17 SDGs and 169 targets. The MDGs had eight goals including poverty alleviation, gender equality, health and environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, the MDGs are to be integrated with the new goals. Between now and 2030, at its mid -point India would be celebrating its 75th year of independence. By that time surely we would have fulfilled health, nutrition and education for all. The moot question to be answered by us as to why some the MDGs remained unfulfilled. Yet most of the MDGs have been met globally, largely on account of the progress made by India and China. Here under MDGs, most were quantifiable unlike the SDGs with 17 and a whopping 169 associate targets like world peace, the environment, gender equity, etc. Most of them are not easy to quantify if not impossible to measure. I mean non quantifiable.
  9. Our Opportunity:
    As it is , there is an emerging “golden thread” among civil society, governments and private enterprises to create open societies and open economies, end conflict and corruption, conscious efforts are to be made in operationalising SDGs. World famous charities like the one promoted by Bill Gates, George Soros, Lord Sainsbury, to mention a few have had spent billions of dollars for helping to empower the needy with sustainable development and infrastructure, inclusive development including banking by making use of modern technology.
  10. India must be a pace setter as it was with MDGs in making the SDGs workable for its millions, particularly in collecting verifiable and measurable and disaggregated data. Out of 193 countries of the UN, India must be a path finder not in creating social safety nets as was under MDGs, but assured standard of living for its masses by ensuring to get a vertical shift beyond seeking aid form donors.
  11. Please do make a difference to our toiling millions during the currency of the SDGs.
  12. Where others see customers under the SDGs, we must see people as per our Indian tradition to make a paradigm shift from backwardness and poverty beyond aid and subsidy.With best regards,
    KM George,
    5th Oct 2015

PS Attached letter is important for Kerala context and may be taken up with the stake holders please.
How to operationalise SDGs in our context?

Policy and Strategy Development

Prepare Policy briefs, discussion papers based on primary and secondary evidence on the SDGs focusing synergies and linkages between the goals;
Synthesize relevant informative into a compelling narrative;
Articulate and formulate feasible strategic national and sub-national planning documents and policies;
Develop solutions that address economic, social and environmental dimensions of development;
Ability to carry out a SWOT and cost/benefit analysis;
Ability to analyse budgets and national planning documents.

Use relevant tools—fiscal, macro modelling, needs assessments, futures visioning, design thinking—as applicable to assess and plan for SDG achievement;
Use tools to identify issues and/or bottlenecks to SDG achievement;
Ability to combine social, economic and environmental considerations in the tools used and/or developed;
Construct and/or use existing models and analyse results, while identifying the limitations of the results;
Use innovative ways to identify developmental challenges, target areas, beneficiaries and partners;
Prepare project proposals using tools and concepts as necessary to strengthen the overall narrative.

Research and Documentation:
Track and report on SDG achievement;
Develop research design, research questions and scope of work for undertaking primary research in new/relevant areas;
Document good practices, case studies, innovations and results of projects/programmes for wider dissemination and sharing;
Ability to demonstrate results in quantifiable terms as well as in clear, easy to understand language using new as well as traditional forms of media.

Capacity Development/Training:
Design training curriculum, conduct and/or coordinate trainings programmes for various stakeholders;
Train and coach stakeholders in using relevant tools and rolling out initiatives;
Develop target specific training tools/tool-kits and manuals based on training needs assessment;
Carry out Capacity assessments of public institutions and government institutions for development of strategic interventions for institutional strengthening;
Conduct and/or coordinate trainings and workshops;
Experience in conducting surveys and tabulating and presenting results to a wider audience.

Knowledge Management:
Prepare easy to understand knowledge and communications products related to the SDG-related projects/programs (audio, video and hard copies);
Create relevant / user driven databases tracking SDG performance;
Review of Knowledge products (subject, design and content);
Prepare and publish featured articles and case studies for an external audience;
Disseminate knowledge and communications products;
Contribute to relevant Communities of Practice (CoP), discussion forums and networks;
A good grasp of, and ability to use innovative KM tools.

Monitoring & Evaluation:
Monitor and evaluate effectiveness of national and sub-national policies toward SDG achievement;
Carry out required independent monitoring and evaluation of projects;
Facilitate community and process monitoring;
Conduct and succinctly analyse baseline and client satisfaction surveys.

Dr KM George
5th Oct,2015

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