India’s progress on the digital public infrastructure commended at United Nations

Ruchira Kamboj and Dennis Francis along with other speakers during the opening of the 62nd Session of the Commission for Social Development on February 5, 2024, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. PHOTO: Office for the President of UNGA

“The world is currently off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] by the 2030 deadline, and the number of challenges before us are indeed significant,” warned Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj at the opening of the 62nd Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD62) on February 5, 2024, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Kamboj, chairperson of CSocD62, noted that the world is facing “new conflicts, escalating climate change, a cost-of-living crisis, entrenched inequalities, increasing mistrust, rising poverty, and widespread food insecurity.”

CSocD62 will take place from February 5-14, 2024, with a theme “fostering social development and social justice through social policies to accelerate progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieve the overarching goal of poverty eradication.”

Social Development lies at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Kamboj emphasized adding that the fundamental commitment of the 2030 agenda that “no one will be left behind” is rooted in a developmental approach that prioritizes “equity, social justice, and non-discrimination.”

“We must also promote integrated, social, economic, and environmental policies if we are to achieve social development and social justice,” Kamboj said. “In practice, social development and social justice require that economic growth is inclusive, that the jobs being created provide decent work, and that the benefits of the green transition, digital transformation, and other mega trends are shared equitably.”

Kamboj conveyed that this year’s focus is on “The Influence of Digital Transformation on Inclusive Growth and Development: A Path to Achieving Social Justice.” While digital transformation brings various opportunities for accelerating social development, Kamboj acknowledged that it also poses challenges in ensuring that the benefits reach everyone.

President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Robert Rae, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Li Junhua, and Chair of the NGO Committee on Social Development, Jean Quinn also addressed the opening session.

Echoing the views of Kamboj, Francis underscored “Let us be candid, we are not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Our setbacks – evident even before the COVID-19 pandemic – have deepened amid converging global challenges – from conflict and climate change to debt distress, trade shocks, and fraying trust in the institutions meant to represent, and support and lift our societies.”

Warning that “a staggering 575 million people will live in extreme poverty in 2030” Francis cautioned that the “state of global affairs behooves us to move beyond a business-as-usual approach.”

Francis maintained that the objective is to prepare for the Summit of the Future scheduled for September 2024. During this Summit, global leaders are anticipated to intensify efforts to attaining SDGs and “to re-energizing the landmark consensus at the heart of 2030 Agenda,” he added.

Vice-President of ECOSOC, Robert Rae, who spoke on behalf of the President of ECOSOC, Paula Narváez, said overcoming poverty “remains” as the primary obstacle to sustainable development. Therefore, it necessitates prompt and inventive measures to attain objectives outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

While commending India’s progress on digital public infrastructure, Rae said “India has shown that widespread access to bank accounts by means of cell phones can make social transfers happen in real time” while noting that not just few million individuals but rather hundreds of millions have benefited from lacking access to personal finances to gaining such access.

“India is an example of a highly motivated, developing country that is rapidly joining the ranks of middle income and will soon, I’m confident, join the ranks of higher incomes,” Rae pointed out. “And it has done this not by virtue of relying on assistance from other countries… It’s an extraordinary model for all of us to study and to learn from.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here