In Charts: How Indian States Fare On Key Development Indicators 
Women build a storage facility for cow-dung cakes at a village in Palwal district, Haryana, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

In Charts: How Indian States Fare On Key Development Indicators 

India has seen significant improvement in several socio-economic indicators but the performance across states continues to vary widely, showed the NITI Aayog’s index on sustainable development goals released this week.

India’s overall score on the index, which measures progress across 17 sustainable development goals adopted by 193 countries as part of a United Nations’ initiative, has improved three points to 60, according to the NITI Aayog’s release. The performance of different states on the index ranged from 50 to 70, with Kerala ranking the best and Bihar ranking the worst.

Within the broader index, the performance of states on three crucial socio-economic indicators — poverty, hunger and health — threw up a wider range of scores, indicating inequitable progress across states.


India’s score on the goal of achieving ‘no poverty’ fell to 50 on a target of 100 in 2019, from 54 in 2018.

The poverty line, along with parameters such as coverage of the population living in katcha homes or availing benefits of any health scheme, minimum employment and maternity benefits are used to arrive at the score. The previous year’s index did not include the percentage of katcha homes used. It instead included the number of homeless households per 10,000 households. That change may have hurt India’s overall position on poverty.

Much of India's poverty is concentrated in rural areas and in low-income states, the report said. It also made note of the continuing disparity among states. In Chhattisgarh, 39.9 percent of people live below poverty while the corresponding figure for Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 1 percent.

On a composite score for poverty, out of 100, six states — Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim — emerged as top performers with a score of 65 or more. Fourteen states and three union territories scored lower than 50. The lowest score was at 28 for Jharkhand, while the highest score was achieved by Tamil Nadu at 72.

The United Nations development goals target reducing the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty by half. For India, as per the Tendulkar committee estimates in 2011-12, 21.92 percent of Indians were living below poverty line. The national target has been set at half that. The Tendulkar committee had set the poverty line at Rs 816 per capita per month in rural areas and Rs 1,000 per capita per month in urban areas in 2011-12.


India’s agricultural productivity has seen a steady rise over the recent years. However, states’ performance on eliminating hunger has remained grim. This, despite every rural household where the monthly income of the highest earning member is less than Rs 5,000, being covered under the Public Distribution System.

Countrywide, over a third of all children under five years of age are stunted. Over half of pregnant women aged between 15-49 years are anemic. While 40.5 percent of children aged between 6-59 months are anemic, 33.4 percent of those between 0-4 years are underweight. These components were used to compute state-wise health rankings.

While Goa and Chandigarh were ranked as the top-performers among all states and union territories, twenty states and three union territories scored less than 50.

Health And Well Being

The performance on the ‘health and well being’ index also remained mixed.

Indicators used to arrive at state-wise rankings included maternal mortality rate, proportion of institutional deliveries, immunisation rate, HIV incidence, prevalence of tuberculosis, use of modern family planning methods and availability of trained medical practitioners.

While Kerala and Puducherry were found to be the best performing, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland were ranked the worst.

Among all sustainable development goals, Indian states’ performance was particularly poor on gender equality. All states and union territories, with the exception of four, scored below 50 on gender equality. Even these four states and union territories, which include Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, only scored between 51-53.

Declining female labour force participation, unequal access to land ownership continue to present challenges to gender equality.

The performance of Indian states was significantly better in provision of clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, peace, justice and strong institutions.

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