Daily Current Affairs : 12th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Anti Defection Law
  2. Maldives and Commonwealth
  3. Global Multi Dimensional Poverty Index
  4. Facts for Prelims : Merchant Discount Rate, Sikh for Justice

1 . Anti Defection Law


Context : n his application to the Supreme Court, Mr. Ramesh Kumar said the Tenth Schedule or anti-defection law casts a mandatory duty on the Speaker to decide applications for disqualification. Thus, the Speaker has to first enquire into whether the 10 MLAs concerned have incurred any reason for disqualification prior to the submission of their resignation letter on July 6.

Background

  • Indian political scene was besmirched by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability in the political system.
  • Legislators used to change parties frequently, bringing about chaos in the legislatures as governments fell. In sum, they often brought about political instability. This caused serious concerns to the right thinking political leaders of the country.
  • Several efforts were made to make some law to curb defections. Finally, in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government brought a Bill to amend the Constitution and curb defection. The 10th Schedule of the Constitution, which contains the anti-defection law, was added to the Constitution through this amendment.

Details of Anti Defection Law

  • The purpose of the law is to curb political defection by the legislators.
  • There are two grounds on which a member of a legislature can be disqualified.
    • If the member voluntarily gives up the membership of the party, he shall be disqualified. Voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party. Even without resigning, a legislator can be disqualified if by his conduct the Speaker/Chairman of the concerned House draws a reasonable inference that the member has voluntarily given up the membership of his party.
    • If a legislator votes in the House against the direction of his party and his action is not condoned by his party, he can be disqualified. These are the two grounds on which a legislator can be disqualified from being a member of the House.

Exception from Disqualification

  • The 10th Schedule says that if there is a merger between two political parties and two-thirds of the members of a legislature party agree to the merger, they will not be disqualified.

Amendments

  • Law was amended in 2003.
  • When it was enacted first, there was a provision under which if there occurs a split in the original political party and as a result of which one-third of the legislators of that party forms a separate group, they shall not be disqualified.
  • This provision resulted in large scale defections and the lawmakers were convinced that the provision of a split in the party was being misused. Therefore, they decided to delete this provision.
  • Now, the only provision which can be invoked for protection from disqualification is the provision relating to the merger

Is the law, as it stands now, open to interpretation?

  • The first ground for disqualifying a legislator for defecting from a party is his voluntarily giving up the membership of his party.
  • This term “voluntarily giving up the membership of his party” is susceptible to interpretation. As has been explained earlier, voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party.
  • The Supreme Court has clarified this point by saying that the presiding officer, who acts as a tribunal, has to draw a reasonable inference from the conduct of the legislator.

Evaluation

  • The law certainly has been able to curb the evil of defection to a great extent. But, of late, a very alarming trend of legislators defecting in groups to another party in search of greener pastures is visible.
  • The recent examples of defection in state Assemblies and even in Rajya Sabha bear this out. This only shows that the law needs a relook in order to plug the loopholes if any.
  • But it must be said that this law has served the interest of the society. Political instability caused by frequent and unholy change of allegiance on the part of the legislators of our country has been contained to a very great extent.

2 . Maldives and Commonwealth


Context : India has urged the Commonwealth to expedite readmission of the Maldives as a member country. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar conveyed India’s stand at the 19 Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in London.

Background

  • Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth during the tenure of President Abdullah Yameen in 2016 after the Commonwealth expressed serious concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. I
What is the Commonwealth?
  • The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states.
  • Member governments have agreed to pursue shared goals such as development, democracy and peace. These values and principles are expressed in the Commonwealth Charter.
  • The Commonwealth spans the globe, including both advanced economies and developing countries, in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe and the Pacific.
  • A network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil society, cultural and professional organisations help member countries to put Commonwealth values and principles into action
Eligibility criteria for membership?
  • An applicant country should, as a general rule, have had a historic constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member, save in exceptional circumstances; In exceptional circumstances, applications should be considered on a case-by-case basis;
  • An applicant country should accept and comply with Commonwealth fundamental values, principles, and priorities as set out in the 1971 Declaration of Commonwealth Principles and contained in other subsequent Declarations;
  • An applicant country must demonstrate commitment to: democracy and democratic processes, including free and fair elections and representative legislatures; the rule of law and independence of the judiciary; good governance, including a well-trained public service and transparent public accounts; and protection of human rights, freedom of expression, and equality of opportunity;
  • An applicant country should accept Commonwealth norms and conventions, such as the use of the English language as the medium of inter-Commonwealth relations, and acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth;
  • New members should be encouraged to join the Commonwealth Foundation, and to promote vigorous civil society and business organisations within their countries, and to foster participatory democracy through regular civil society consultations.
Process for obtaining membership
  • An informal assessment undertaken by the Secretary-General following an expression of interest by an aspirant country;
  • Consultation by the Secretary-General with member states;
  • An invitation to the interested country to make a formal application; and
  • A formal application presenting evidence of the functioning of democratic processes and popular support in that country for joining the Commonwealth.
  • The procedure also sets out that the application would thereafter be considered by Heads of Government at the next CHOGM and, if they reach consensus on accepting it, that country would then join the Commonwealth and be invited to attend subsequent meetings.
Can a former Commonwealth member state re-join?
  • A Commonwealth member state that has withdrawn or was expelled from the Commonwealth would need to reapply for membership. Although Commonwealth Heads have not set out any re-joining criteria, it is expected that a country would demonstrate that it continues to uphold the principles and values of the Commonwealth that it espoused when it first joined.

3 . Global Multidimensional Poverty Index


Context : According to the global MPI 2019 report released Thursday, between 2005-06 and 2015-16, India, lifted 271 million out of poverty, significantly reducing deprivations in many of the ten indicators, particularly in “assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition”.

Details of the Report

  • India has registered the fastest absolute reduction in the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) value among ten countries, spanning every developing region, whose combined population is two billion people. And Jharkhand is among the poorest regions in the world improving the fastest.
  • According to the global MPI 2019 report, between 2005-06 and 2015-16, India, lifted 271 million out of poverty, significantly reducing deprivations in many of the ten indicators, particularly in “assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition”.
  • The report stated: “Among selected countries with a significant reduction in MPI value, India demonstrates the clearest pro-poor pattern at the subnational level: the poorest regions reduced multidimensional poverty the fastest in absolute terms”.
  • Among the four Indian states with the most acute MPI — Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh — Jharkhand has made the most progress. Overall, India was among three countries where poverty reduction in rural areas outpaced that in urban areas, which as per the report, is an indicator of pro-poor development.
  • “Traditionally disadvantaged subgroups such as those living in rural India, Muslims, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and young children are still the poorest in India,” said a UNDP official.

About Multidimensional Poverty Index

  • The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is an international measure of acute multidimensional poverty covering over 100 developing countries.
  • It complements traditional monetary-based poverty measures by capturing the acute deprivations that each person faces at the same time with respect to education, health and living standards.
  • The MPI assesses poverty at the individual level. If someone is deprived in a third or more of ten (weighted) indicators, the global index identifies them as ‘MPI poor’, and the extent – or intensity – of their poverty is measured by the percentage of deprivations they are experiencing.
  • The global MPI can be used to create a comprehensive picture of people living in poverty, and permits comparisons both across countries and world regions, and within countries by ethnic group, urban/rural area, subnational region, and age group, as well as other key household and community characteristics. For each group and for countries as a whole, the composition of MPI by each of the 10 indicators shows how people are poor.
  • This makes the MPI and its linked information platform invaluable as an analytical tool to identify the most vulnerable people – the poorest among the poor, revealing poverty patterns within countries and over time, enabling policy makers to target resources and design policies more effectively.
  • The global MPI was developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for inclusion in UNDP’s flagship Human Development Report in 2010.

Drawbacks of the Index

  • First, the indicators may not reflect capabilities but instead reflect outputs (such as years of schooling) or inputs (such as cooking fuel).
  • Second, the health data are relatively weak and overlook some groups’ deprivations, especially for nutrition, though the patterns that emerge are plausible and familiar.
  • Third, in some cases careful judgments were needed to address missing data. But to be considered multidimensionally poor, households must be deprived in at least six standard of living indicators or in three standard of living indicators and one health or education indicator, or in two health or education indicators. This requirement makes the MPI less sensitive to minor inaccuracies.
  • Fourth, intra-household inequalities may be severe, but these could not be reflected.
  • Fifth, while the MPI goes well beyond a headcount ratio to include the intensity of poverty, it does not measure inequality among the poor, although decompositions by groups can be used to reveal group-based inequalities.

4 . Facts for Prelims


Sikhs for Justice

  • Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), formed in 2007, is a US-based group seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs — a “Khalistan” in Punjab. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a law graduate from Panjab University and currently an attorney at law in the US, is the face of SFJ and its legal adviser. The secessionist campaign, called ‘Referendum 2020’, seeks to “liberate Punjab from Indian occupation”

Merchant discount Rate

  • MDR is a fee charged from a merchant by a bank for accepting payments from customers through credit and debit cards in their establishments.
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