United Nations reports the COVID-19 pandemic to have delayed the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as more resources were diverted to health and sanitation sectors. Scientific research attributes the COVID-19 pandemic to the loss of natural habitats of pathogens from unsustainable lifestyles that afflicted humans and puts their lives at risk. Should sustainable development or the attainment of SDGs be prioritized in post-pandemic developmental programs? Will such a policy undermine the pandemic management or the economic development of the countries? This paper examines this question by statistically analyzing the relation between SDG scores and COVID mortality in Indian states. COVID mortality is seen to be negatively related to the SDG score of the year 2020 as well as the rate of change of SDG scores between 2018 and 2020 and depicts an inverted U-shape association. This means states that fastened the attainment of SDGs in 2020 compared to 2018 witnessed fewer deaths, probably by managing the pandemic well, and states with the slow progress of SDGs witnessed more deaths. Globally, countries managing the pandemic well are seen to have suffered lower economic losses, and thus, high SDG scorer states can attain higher economic growth by better managing the pandemic. These results provide a reason to speed up the attainment of SDGs to rebuild the economy after the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic, COVID mortality, Sustainable Development Goals, SDG gap, Niti Aayog, India
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Institute of Economic Growth, University Enclave, University of Delhi (North Campus),
Delhi 110 007, India