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NEW DELHI : The covid-19 crisis has compounded the vulnerabilities faced by migrants and the urban poor and made the elderly more vulnerable to health shocks, said the India Voluntary National Review (VNR) 2020 report released by NITI Aayog on Monday.

Migration has always been the result of a mismatch between quantitative and qualitative aspects of labour supply and demand, highlighted the report, titled Decade of Action: Taking SDGs from Global to Local.

“It has often exposed migrants to labour market uncertainties and social security risks. The covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown of economic activities has further impacted the situation of migrant labour," said the report that presented India’s second VNR at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, 2020. The HLPF is an international platform for follow-up and review of progress on the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

India’s urban population grew from 286.1 million in 2001 to 377.1 million in 2011, which constitutes 31.14% of the total population residing in 53 urban agglomerations with more than a million people each.

Nearly 14% of this urban population was estimated to be living below the poverty line in 2011-12 with 65.5 million living in slums.

Graphic: Mint
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Graphic: Mint

Burgeoning economic growth and capital and labour mobility in urban areas have also led to significant growth in migration. The magnitude of interstate migration in India accelerated from 5 million to 6 million annually between 2001-11 to 9 million annually between 2011-16, according to the report.

“A significant proportion of migrants and the poor in cities are employed in the informal economy, which makes them vulnerable, especially in times such as the covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has compounded the vulnerabilities faced by the migrants and the urban poor. The issuance of guiding principles for urban decongestion on account of rapid growth of urban agglomerations also need consideration," the report said.

The recently promulgated One Nation, One Ration Card scheme is critical for enabling access to subsidized foodgrains across the country, irrespective of the place of origin of migrants, the report pointed out. This interoperability has the potential of also becoming a conduit for delivery of other public services.

The report has also highlighted the vulnerability of the elderly to health crises such as covid-19. India is home to more than 103.9 million people aged 60 and above, who constitute 8.6% of the total population. By 2026, this population segment is expected to increase to 173.2 million or 12.4% of the population, with a consequent increase in the dependency ratio. Locomotor disability and visual disability are most prevalent among the elderly.

“Higher morbidity and greater burden of ailments makes this group vulnerable to health shocks as is being seen during covid-19," the report said.

India presented its VNR along with other second-time presenters such as Bangladesh, Georgia, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda.

The VNR report is a comprehensive account of the adoption and implementation of the 2030 Agenda in India. Apart from presenting a review of progress on the 17 SDGs, the report discusses at length the policy and enabling environment, India’s approach to localising SDGs, and strengthening means of implementation.

So far, India has recorded 901,894 covid-19 cases and 23,649 deaths, most of them among the elderly. At present, there are 310,356 active cases and they are all under medical supervision either at hospitals, covid care centres or home isolation, said the Union health ministry. “India’s fatality rate has also dropped to 2.64% and 30 states have a fatality rate that is lower than the national average. During the last 24 hours, 219,103 samples were tested. The cumulative number of samples tested as of now is 1,18,06,256. The testing per million is continuously growing. It is 8,555.25 today," it said.

“It is an opportune time for Inedia to implement approaches to accelerate progress across multiple sectors to meet the SDGs and it requires technical assistance and partnerships to support its efforts to do so," said Dr Sujeet Ranjan, executive director, The Coalition for Food & Nutrition Security.

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