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17th January Current Affairs

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s suggestion to CJI DY Chandrachud on appointment of judges

(GS-II: Polity; Appointment of Judges)

In News:

Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) “suggesting” that a nominee of the government should be included in the collegium that makes recommendations for the appointment of judges. The letter offered the suggestion since the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) is “pending finalisation”.

Details:

What is the MoP, and why is the government making suggestions on it?

Appointments playbook:

The MoP is the official playbook agreed upon by the government and the judiciary on the appointment of judges. It is a crucial document that governs the collegium system of appointing judges.

The bone of contention in the MoP and SC’s take on the appointment process:

The insertion of a “national security” clause that may prevent an appointment was a major point of contention.

However, before the document could be finalised, the SC in a 2017 judgement (a suo motu contempt proceeding against Justice C S Karnan, then a judge of the Calcutta HC) highlights,

The need to revisit the process of selection and appointment of judges to the constitutional courts.

The necessity to establish an effective legal regime to deal with situations where the conduct of a constitutional court judge necessitates remedial actions (other than impeachment).

The SC has initiated a contempt case against the government for not adhering to the timelines set out in the MoP and court rulings.

Government’s stand:

The MoP is under finalisation by the Government in consultation with the SC Collegium.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice voiced concern, given that the MoP had been pending for more than seven years.

What does the Law Minister’s suggestion imply?

Government representatives should be a part of the SC (CJI and four senior-most judges of the apex court) and HC (Chief Justice and two senior-most judges of a particular HC) Collegiums.

A departure from the NJAC.

The opposition to the suggestion:

This remedy is a poison pill for an independent judiciary.

A representative of the Government alone attacks not only the independence of the judiciary but also the competitive balance between the ruling party and the opposition.

UNDESA World Social Report 2023

(GS-I: Population and Associated Issues)

In News:

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) published the World Social Report 2023, with the theme “Leaving No One Behind in an Aging World“.

Background:

Rooted in the UN Charter and guided by the transformative 2030 SDGs, the UN DESA (New York City, 1948) upholds the development pillar of the UN.

UN DESA helps countries make informed decisions by providing information through publications and databases and international deliberations at the UN General Assembly, ECOSOC, etc.

The World Social Report (since 1997 and previously Report on the World Social Situation) has served as a background document for policy analysis of socio-economic trends.

Since 2001, the periodicity of the report has been changed from a four-year cycle to a two-year cycle (biennial).

In 2022, the world marked the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.

To commemorate this landmark, the 2023 Report explores the economic and social implications of the ageing of the human population.

Highlights of the 2023 Report:

Population ageing is a defining global trend of the time, which has begun or is expected to begin soon in all countries and areas.

People are living longer (an inevitable result of the demographic transition), and more are older than ever before.

Spectacular improvements in health and survival and reductions in fertility have driven this momentous shift.

This change brings both challenges and opportunities as countries strive to achieve the SDGs.

Two policy actions suggested by the report:

To promote labour market participation and increased productivity, uphold good health and prevent poverty.

To reduce inequality and promote economic security at older ages in a fiscally sustainable manner, taking into account both pensions and health care.

Conclusion:

The national policies aimed at creating equitable, inclusive societies for people of all ages, and prioritising the rights and well-being of older people are the need of the hour.

MFIs to play leading role in India’s economic growth

(GS-III: Economy)

In News:

Microfinance institutions, which have acted as a financial support system to low-income households by offering credit access to six crore borrowers in the last few years, will play a leading role in the growth process of India.

Details:

MFIs:

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are financial companies that provide small loans to people who do not have any access to banking facilities. The definition of “small loans” varies between countries. In India, all loans that are below Rs. 1 lakh can be considered microloans.

The Origin:

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) came into being in the 90s as banks’ reluctance to lend to those without credit history provided an opportunity to those willing to take the risk and organize rural communities.

Significance of microfinance institutions in the economy:

  • Empowerment of women: About 95 per cent of some loan products extended by microfinance institutions are given to women, as well as those with disabilities
  • Access to credit esp. for the poor: It has acted as a financial support system to low-income households by offering credit access to six crore borrowers in the last few years
  • Poverty alleviation: Microfinance disrupts the cycle of poverty by making more money available. They provide easy credit and offer small loans to customers, without any collateral.
  • Savings in rural households: It helps the poor and marginalized section of society by making them aware of the financial instruments available for their help and also helps in developing a culture of saving.
  • Creating employment
  • Social benefits: Families benefiting from microloans are more likely to provide better and continued education for their children and quality healthcare facilities for family members.
  • Digitization: From 2017 onwards, the Indian MFI industry embraced the digital route by using online delivery channels, mobile banking and e-wallets.

Issues concerning MFI:

Minimal or no regulatory structure: The combination of   minimal   regulation   and   rapid   sector   growth   led   to   an environment   where   customers   were   increasingly   dissatisfied   with   microfinance services, culminating in the Andhra Pradesh crisis in the fall of 2010.

Regulatory role of RBI wrt MFIs: RBI more or less caters to commercial and traditional banks more than it helps MFIs.

Very little regulation exists for NGO-MFIs and Cooperatives

Delinquency among microfinance borrowers

Dependence on commercial banks

Over-indebtedness of MFIs

MFIs have strayed away from their original purpose of poverty alleviation and social empowerment to short-term profit-making.

MFIs are harassing their clients who are usually too desperate to turn away from the credit being offered. This is true even when credit comes with the catch of high repayment rates.

Conclusion:

As per the World Bank estimates, more than 500 million people have improved their economic conditions via microfinance-related entities. Strengthening the credit check and debt collection processes and educating the villagers about products and consequences is important.

PM pays homage to Thiruvalluvar on Thiruvalluvar Day

In News:

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has paid homage to Thiruvalluvar on Thiruvalluvar Day and recalled his noble thoughts. PM also urged the youth to read the Kural.

Details:

Thiruvalluvar, also called Valluvar, was a Tamil poet-saint.

He contributed the Tirukkural or ‘Kural’ to the Sangam literature.

Tirukkural is comprised of 133 sections of 10 couplets each divided into three books: Aram (virtue), Porul (government and society), and Kamam (love).