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India - Ahead of neighbours, behind 2015 goals

October 18, 2006 02:46 IST

A fresh appraisal of countries striving to meet the eight millennium development goals clubs India with Nepal and Afghanistan. It, however, has got praise for achieving 89 per cent enrolment in primary education.

The country can also take solace in the fact that it is ahead of neighbours Bangladesh and Pakistan. The two countries have been described as "falling further behind" six years after the world set itself eight millennium goals to be achieved by 2015.

The United Nations report, "Millennium Development Goals -- Progress in Asia and Pacific 2006" puts countries into four categories in terms of progress towards achieving the goal of hunger and poverty eradication, universal primary education, low infant mortality, better maternal health, gender equality, combating of diseases, environment sustainability and availability of drinking water.

The nations moving ahead include China, Azerbaijan, Vietnam and Thailand. The countries losing momentum include Fiji, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Samoa. The nations catching up include India while those falling further behind include Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The report gives India a pat on the back for bringing a large number of children to schools. However, it scores poorly in the matter of getting girls to school. Gender inequality in schools plagues India along with other South Asian countries, according to the report.

Talking of India's role, it says, "South Asia has made great strides especially from 1999 to 2004 when enrolment rose from 72 to 89 per cent largely as a result of progress in India. However, educational gender gap persists with female children out of school far exceeding male kids out of school. The gap is the widest in the sub-Saharan Africa followed by Southern Asia, which includes India."

India has also come in for criticism over immunisation. The report says measles remains a major killer of children, taking half a million lives each year.

Two-thirds of unprotected unimmunised children live in six countries, including India. Here, India shares ground with Pakistan and China, besides Congo, Indonesia and Nigeria.

The report says 2007 will see more people living in urban areas and countries will face the challenge of providing good living conditions to the poor in cities.