NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 38

by R. Ramakumar

Bern, NCCR North-South 2011

This paper argues that India has been off-track in terms of most indicators captured in MDG-1. The failure of the Indian state to meet MDG targets is not just a technical failure; it represents a historic failure of the state to raise the living standards of people and expand their socioeconomic freedoms. First, beginning from the assumption that poverty is primarily a structural issue, India’s failure to implement land reforms on any substantial scale or degree has historically undermined its efforts to create any dent on poverty and unemployment. Second, official policy on employment and poverty in India entered a new phase from the mid-1970s, leading to an increase in unemployment rates and poverty. Third, the breakdown of public support structures for the poor has been a major reason for the slowdown in employment growth and poverty reduction after the 1990s. As in the case of many other countries, the Indian experience with MDGs reaffirms the importance of progressive politics in driving social change.

Ramakumar R. 2011. India and the Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Challenges. NCCR North-South Dialogue 38 (Working Paper, Special Research Project 4 – Beyond the MDGs). Bern and Zurich, Switzerland: NCCR North-South.


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