Daily Current Affairs: 27th November 2021


Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. National Courts of appeal
  2. Multidimensional Poverty Index
  3. Facts for Prelims
  4. Places in News

1. National courts of appeal


Context: Attorney-General of India K.K. Venugopal argued on the front foot in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Constitution Day for the revival of a 11-year-old proposal to set up national courts of appeal in four regions of the country. He said four courts of appeal with 15 judges each could act as intermediate appellate courts between the State High Courts and the Supreme Court.

Background

  • The idea of a National Court of Appeal – an intermediary court between the High Courts and the SC – has been mooted repeatedly over the last few decades.
  • In April 2016, during a PIL hearing by a SC bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi rejected the notion of a court of appeal.
  • With two crore cases pending in lower courts compared to fifty thousand cases with the SC, he emphasized the problem lay at the level of the lower courts and not the SC. He also argued that setting up a court of appeal would only add to “lawyers’ pockets.”
  • Subsequently, the central government rejected the proposal on the ground that Article 130 of the Constitution would need to be amended which was “impermissible as this would change the constitution of the Supreme Court completely.”
  • In November 2020, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal – who succeeded Rohatgi – recommended the establishment of a National Court of Appeal to adjudicate on appeals from lower courts.
  • This would let the SC function as a Constitutional court to deal with matters of national importance, fundamental rights and issues involving a substantial question of law. Venugopal conceded that a Constitutional amendment would be required to bring this into effect.
  • In the past, various Law Commissions as well as specific SC benches have supported the setting up of a National Court of Appeal with regional benches.

Need

  • While the apex court’s strength increased gradually over the decades, there was an exponential increase in the backlog of cases pending before it.
  • What became a matter of greater concern was the fact that routine appeals began comprising a higher proportion of the SC’s workload compared to core Constitutional matters.
  • By the powers conferred on it by the Constitution, the SC can interfere in any judicial proceedings, whether it pertains to a Constitutional matter or an appeal against an order – civil or criminal – passed by a subordinate court.
  • In major countries globally, however, apex courts restrict their hearings to a limited number of cases. They rarely hear cases related to civil or criminal matters.
  • In India, such a wide jurisdiction has resulted in a significant backlog of cases at the apex court’s level.

Newly Proposed court of appeal

  • Four courts of appeal with 15 judges each could act as intermediate appellate courts between the State High Courts and the Supreme Court.
  • They would absorb matrimonial disputes, rent control cases and other such cases that clog the Supreme Court, adding to pendency. The judgments of these courts of appeal would be final.
  • These courts would also mean that we are adding 60 judges who would be taking over these cases.
  • Pendency would be cut down to a very great extent. Cases could be disposed of in three or four years’ time.
  • This would unburden the Supreme Court, which could focus on interpreting constitutional questions of law, references and death sentence cases.
  • Supreme Court judges could hear cases leisurely, read and write better judgments with time on their hands.
  • In fact, the Supreme Court would not need 34 judges. Just 15 would be ample. These judges of the Supreme Court could sit in three Constitution Benches.

Concerns

  • A major concern is that an amendment of Article 130 of the Constitution will amount to a change in the basic constitutional framework of the Supreme Court itself.
  • There is another concern that setting up regional benches of the SC would dilute the apex court’s authority. This also need to be allayed. If regional benches are indeed set up, they would only have a functional role in as far as appeals from High Courts are concerned. All Constitutional and national importance matters would continue to be dealt with by the bench in Delhi.

Way Forward

  • The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has shown that courts can adapt quickly in case of a crisis to ensure that there is no delay in the dispensation of justice.
  • In the same manner, the SC and central government must view the current state of the judiciary as a crisis of enormous proportions and take the much-needed step of establishing a National Court of Appeal with regional benches.
  • As far as regular matters are concerned, the SC should step in only when a case involves a substantial question of law or violates citizens’ fundamental rights.
  • Doing so will be the true essence of its ‘supreme’ role as the upholder of the Constitution of India.

2. Multidimensional Poverty Index


Context: NITI Aayog, the government think tank, on Friday released the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI) baseline report that defines poverty as the deprivation in crucial and basic parameters of health, education and living standards.

Background

  • Under the Cabinet Secretary’s Global Indices for Reforms and Growth (GIRG) initiative, the country’s performance is being monitored across 29 global indices including Human Development Index (HDI), Global Hunger Index (GHI), Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), Human Capital Index (HCI), Global Innovation Index (GII), among others.
  • This exercise is aimed at leveraging the monitoring mechanism of important social, economic, and other internationally recognised indices, enabling the utilisation of these indices as tools for bringing about reforms to improve outcomes and correspondingly reflect them in India’s performance in these indices globally.
  • Under this initiative, NITI Aayog is the nodal Ministry for the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
  • According to Global MPI 2021, India’s rank is 66 out of 109 countries.

About National MPI Project

  • The National MPI Project is aimed at deconstructing the Global MPI and creating a globally aligned and yet customised India MPI for drawing up comprehensive Reform Action Plans with the larger goal of improving India’s position in the Global MPI rankings.
  • As the nodal Ministry for MPI, NITI Aayog is also responsible for engaging with the publishing agencies of the index; ranking States and Union Territories based on their performance and has also constituted an inter-ministerial MPI Coordination Committee (MPICC) to consult twelve Line Ministries mapped to each National MPI indicator.

Importance

  • The development of the National Multidimensional Poverty Index of India is an important contribution towards instituting a public policy tool which monitors multidimensional poverty, informs evidence-based and focused interventions, thereby ensuring that no one is left behind.
  • It has been envisaged as a comprehensive tool to expedite goal-oriented action to measure multidimensional poverty and steer its systematic eradication.
  • The multidimensionality of poverty is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Target 1.2. refers to reducing “at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions”.
  • The interlinked nature of the SDGs is reflected in multidimensional poverty measures as well, since they examine deprivations in areas such as nutrition (Goal 2), health (SDG 3), education (SDG 4) and living standards related indicators such as water and sanitation (SDG 6), and electricity and clean cooking fuel (SDG 7), among others.

Calculation of National Multidimensional Poverty Index?

  • The report was based on the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS4), which was conducted between 2015 and 2016, and developed by the NITI Aayog in consultation with 12 ministries and in partnership with state governments and the index publishing agencies – Oxford University’s Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • The multidimensional poverty index is calculated using 12 indicators — nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, antenatal care, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets and bank account — that have been grouped under three dimensions namely, health, education and standard of living.

Purpose of National MPI as a measure

  • Enhanced high-level view of poverty at the national level
  • Complements monetary poverty measures
  • Information to shape policy
  • The MPI is based on each person’s or household’s profile of the overlapping or “joint” deprivations they experience: This provides new information that is not available in many other measures of poverty estimation.
  • Provides incentives for leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first
  • Adaptable to national context and transparent
  • Robustness and rigor

MPI Highlights

  • Bihar has the highest proportion of people, at 51.91 per cent of the state’s population, who are multidimensionally poor, followed by Jharkhand at 42.16 per cent and Uttar Pradesh at 37.79 per cent.
  • Bihar also has the highest number of malnourished people followed by Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
  • Kerala, Goa, and Sikkim have the lowest percentage of population being multidimensionally poor at 0.71 per cent, 3.76 per cent and 3.82 per cent, respectively.
  • This baseline report of the national MPI measure is based on the reference period of 2015-16 of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
  • Among the Union Territories (UTs), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (27.36 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh (12.58), Daman & Diu (6.82 per cent) and Chandigarh (5.97 per cent), have emerged as the poorest UTs in India.
  • The proportion of poor in Puducherry at 1.72 per cent is the lowest among the Union Territories, followed by Lakshadweep at 1.82 per cent, Andaman & Nicobar Islands at 4.30 per cent and Delhi at 4.79 per cent.

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

  • The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative measures poverty by considering various deprivations experienced by people in their daily lives, including poor health, insufficient education and a low standard of living.
  • Today’s report examines the level and composition of multidimensional poverty across 109 countries covering 5.9 billion people and presents an ethnicity/race/caste disaggregation for 41 countries with available information.

3. Facts for Prelims


Omicron

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) had designated the corona variant, B.1.1.529, as a “variant of concern (VOC)”, and given it the name Omicron.
  • It is the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet
  • The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. 
  • This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.
  • Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs.
  • The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.
  • Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. 

4. Places in News


Velankanni

  • Velankanni, is a Special Grade Panchayat Town in Nagapattinam district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
  • It lies on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Once a port that traded with Rome and Greece, the tiny commercial center gradually lost its importance to the larger city of Nagapattinam.
  • The Vellayar, a minor branch of the Cauvery River, runs south of the town and discharges into the sea.
  • The town was among the worst hit by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
  • The town is home to one of the most visited Roman Catholic Latin Rite shrines called the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health.
  • Velankanni has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme of the Government of India.

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