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Government way off its growth-for-all goal, says Planning Commission


India has little cause for celebration and much ground to cover on vital socio-economic indicators, such as health and hunger, directly linked to the UPA government's "inclusive growth" agenda, shows a Planning Commission report submitted to the Union cabinet.


The cabinet had asked the panel to update it on how far the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -globally agreed benchmarks on socio-economic prosperity - had been realised.


The panel's May 18 report shows none of the eight MDGs looks distinctly achievable by the target year of 2015. India is likely to be "close" to its poverty reduction target, despite no clarity on the official poverty line yet.


Its 2009-10 poverty benchmark - Rs. 32 and Rs. 26 for urban and rural people respectively - was criticised as unrealistic.


"Income-poverty reduction is expected to be borderline (case). But if one includes non-income poverty indicators, like health and education spending, the scenario could be different," said Prof Mahendra Dev, who heads the Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Rural Development and is on the panel to review the poverty line.


The commission said India was "going slow" in reduction of hunger and malnourishment and was "likely to fall short of the target by 2015".


Primary education and HIV prevalence reversal targets were likely to be met, but this was offset by abysmal teaching standards.


The government's annual education report of 2011 showed most Class 5 pupils could not read Class 2 texts.  Infant mortality, though declining, was not yet an "established trend", the commission said.


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