Global Multidimensional Poverty Index
NITI Aayog as the nodal agency has been assigned the responsibility of leveraging the monitoring mechanism of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to drive reforms. Global MPI is part of Government of India’s decision to monitor the performance of the country in 29 select Global Indices.
The objective of the “Global Indices to Drive Reforms and Growth (GIRG)” exercise is to fulfil the need to measure and monitor India’s performance on various important social and economic parameters and enable the utilisation of these Indices as tools for self-improvement, bring about reforms in policies, while improving last-mile implementation of government schemes.
What is Global MPI?
- Global MPI is an international measure of multidimensional poverty covering 107 developing countries and was first developed in 2010 by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for UNDP’s Human Development Reports.
- The Global MPI is released at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development of the United Nations in July, every year.
- Global MPI is computed by scoring each surveyed household on 10 parameters based on – nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing and household assets.
- It utilises the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) which is conducted under the aegis of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS).
Performance of India –
- According to Global MPI 2020, India is 62nd among 107 countries with an MPI score of 0.123 and 27.91% headcount ratio, based on the NFHS 4 (2015/16) data.
- Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka (25th), Bhutan (68th), Nepal (65th), Bangladesh (58th), China (30th), Myanmar (69th) and Pakistan (73rd) are also ranked in this index.
- The latest NFHS 5 (2019/20) is set to see remarkable national improvement brought about by focused schemes and interventions in these parameters since NFHS 4, especially in sanitation, cooking fuel, housing, drinking water and electricity. The survey has been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully demonstrated the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV) from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.
India has become the fourth country in the world to test hypersonic technology vehicle after US, Russia and China.
What is HSTDV?
- Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is an unmanned scramjet vehicle with a capability to travel at six times the speed of sound.
- The scramjets are a variant of a category of jet engines called the air breathing engines. The ability of engines to handle airflows of speeds in multiples of speed of sound, gives it a capability of operating at those speeds.
- Hypersonic speeds are those which are five times or more than the speed of sound. The unit tested by the DRDO can achieve upto six times the speed of sound or Mach 6, which is well over 7000 kilometres per hour or around two kilometres per second.
About ‘ramjet’, ’scramjet’ and ‘dual mode ramjet’ engines –
- A ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that uses the vehicle’s forward motion to compress incoming air for combustion without a rotating compressor. Fuel is injected in the combustion chamber where it mixes with the hot compressed air and ignites.
- A ramjet-powered vehicle requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
- Ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and can operate up to speeds of Mach 6. However, the ramjet efficiency starts to drop when the vehicle reaches hypersonic speeds.
- A scramjet engine is an improvement over the ramjet engine as it efficiently operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, or Scramjet.
- A dual mode ramjet (DMRJ) is a type of jet engine where a ramjet transforms into scramjet over Mach 4-8 range, which means it can efficiently operate both in subsonic and supersonic combustor modes.
Constitutional changes in Sri Lanka
Since the Rajapaksas have attained the two-thirds parliamentary majority. Their first priority is to get rid of the 19th Amendment, and replace it with the 20th Amendment. There are concerns, including in India, that the 13th Amendment may also be repealed.
What are the 19th and 20th amendments?
- The 19th Amendment was brought in by the previous Yahapalanya (Good Governance) government of the United National Front of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It rolled back the 18th amendment that had been brought in by the preceding President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
- The 18th amendment had removed the two-term bar on running for office, and centralised more powers in the hands of the President.
- One of the first acts of United National Front was to bring in the 19th amendment, which restored the two-term bar on running for the presidency that was contained in the 1978 constitution; laid down the minimum age of 35 years for a presidential candidate; and also barred dual citizens from the office.
- It reduced the term of the presidency to five years from the six years laid down in the 1978 constitution.
- The President also lost his power to sack the Prime Minister. It also placed a ceiling on the number of ministers and deputy ministers.
- The 20th amendment Bill, which was gazetted recently, reverses almost everything in the 19th Amendment. It only retains from it the two-term bar on the presidency, and the five-year term.
The Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives has flagged the following concerns in the 20th Amendment Bill –
- It seeks to remove the checks and balances on the executive presidency. In particular, it abolishes the binding limitations on presidential powers in relation to key appointments to independent institutions through the pluralistic and deliberative process of the Constitutional Council.
- Its replacement, the Parliamentary Council, is a mere rubber stamp of the executive, with no genuine deliberative role envisaged for its members. It is a regression to what was in place under the Eighteenth Amendment, effectively providing sweeping powers to the President to appoint individuals to key institutions, and with it, politicising institutions that are meant to function independently of the political executive and for the benefit of citizens.
- It has also removed “the opportunity for citizens to challenge the executive actions of the President through fundamental rights applications has been removed, suggesting that the President is above the law.
- The checks on presidential power within the executive are abolished by the removal of the requirement of the Prime Minister’s advice for the appointment and dismissal of Cabinet and other Ministers. The appointment and particularly the dismissal of the Prime Minister are no longer dependent on the confidence of Parliament but at the discretion of the President.
- Parliament is disempowered against the executive by the restoration of the President’s power to dissolve Parliament at will at any time after the first year of its term.
What is the 13th Amendment?
- The 13th Amendment was a consequence of the Indian intervention in Sri Lanka between 1987-1990. It flowed from the India-Sri Lanka Accord of July 29, 1987. Sri Lanka is a unitary country, and the 1978 Constitution had concentrated all powers in the centre.
- The agreement was aimed at finding a way forward on devolution of political powers to the then North-Eastern province, comprising the Tamil dominated areas of the island country.
- Under the terms of the Accord (also known as the Jayawardene-Rajiv Gandhi agreement), the Sri Lankan parliament brought in the 13th Amendment, which provided for a system of elected provincial councils across Sri Lanka. Thus it was not just the Northern-Eastern province that would get a provincial council but provinces in the rest of Sri Lanka too.
- The irony was that while the North-Eastern provincial council could barely survive the violent and bloody circumstances of its birth and died after a short-lived futile struggle against both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government, each of the remaining provinces in the Sinhala dominated areas have had elected provincial councils.
Foreign Contribution Regulation Act
Out of the six NGOs whose license under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was suspended by the Union Home Ministry this year, four are Christian associations.
The four Christian groups whose FCRA was suspended are Ecreosoculis North Western Gossner Evangelical in Jharkhand, the Evangelical Churches Association (ECA) in Manipur, Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jharkhand and New Life Fellowship Association (NLFA) in Mumbai. The reasons for the suspension or violation were not specified.
About FCRA –
- Government of India enacted the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in the year 1976 with an objective of regulating the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution.
- The legislation aims to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies.
- It aims to prohibit funding for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith.
- The act was majorly modified in 2010 with several amendments because many NGOs were found using illegal use of foreign funding.
Recent changes in FCRA –
- Earlier, as per the FCRA 2010, only applicants such as directors who sought permission to receive foreign funds were required to make such a declaration. Now, every member of an NGO must, under oath, through an affidavit, declare that they have never been involved in diverting foreign funds or “sedition” or “advocating violent means”.
- It has been made mandatory for office bearers and key functionaries and members to certify that they have not been “prosecuted or convicted” for “conversion” from one faith to another and for creating “communal tension and disharmony”.
Who are debarred from receiving foreign contribution?
- Candidate contesting an election
- Cartoonist, editor, publishers of registered newspaper
- Government servants or employee of any corporation
- Member of any legislature
A report submitted to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 2016 had recommended the removal of the Wagon Tragedy victims and Malabar Rebellion leaders Ali Musliyar and Variamkunnath Ahmad Haji, and Haji’s two brothers from a book on martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. The report sought the removal of names of 387 ‘Moplah rioters’ from the list of martyrs.
What does the report say?
- The report describes Haji as the “notorious Moplah Riot leader” and a “hardcore criminal,” who “killed innumerable innocent Hindu men, women, and children during the 1921 Moplah Riot, and deposited their bodies in a well, locally known as Thoovoor Kinar”. Haji was arrested by the army, tried by an army court and shot dead on January 20, 1922.
- None of those who died in the Wagon Tragedy were freedom fighters of India as they hoisted the Khilafat flag and established Khilafat and Khilafat courts for a brief period. They were arrested by the army for participating in riots.
- Around 10 Hindus who participated in the riots too are on the list of persons to be removed from the dictionary. The British convicted the rioters after proper trial. While some were hanged to death, some died in jail and some others in hospitals. These dead were never recognised as freedom fighters elsewhere.
What was the ‘Moplah uprising’?
- The immediate trigger of the uprising was the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by the Congress in 1920 in tandem with the Khilafat agitation. The Malabar Congress, many of whose leaders were Nairs, was the most active participant in these twin agitations with several Hindu leaders addressing Khilafat gatherings.
- The anti-British sentiment fuelled by these agitations found fertile ground among the Muslim Mapillahs of south Malabar living in economic misery which they blamed in large part on British rule.
- The British had introduced new tenancy laws that tremendously favoured the landlords and instituted a far more exploitative system than before. The pre-British relations between landlords and tenants were based on a code that provided the tenants a decent share of the produce. The new laws deprived them of all guaranteed rights to the land and its produce and in effect rendered them landless.
- This change created enormous resentment among the tenants against British rule. The fact that most of the landlords were Namboodiri Brahmins while most of the tenants were Mapillah Muslims compounded the problem.
- The Nairs formed an intermediate grouping of well-off peasantry with their own economic and social grudges against the Namboodiri landlords but largely unsympathetic to the economic travails of the Mapillahs.