Advocating for Sustainable Changes!

NITI Aayog's report, National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): A Progress Review 2023 (based on NFHS-5) aims to facilitate data-driven decision making, formulation of sectoral policies, and targeted interventions which contribute towards ensuring that “no one is left behind” as with its own national MPI, India is poised to gain a deeper understanding of poverty’s complexities and forge solutions that ensure inclusivity for all.

The report highlights - "Historically, poverty estimation has predominantly relied on income as the sole indicator. However, the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), based on the Alkire-Foster (AF) methodology, captures overlapping deprivations in health, education, and living standards. It complements income poverty measurements because it measures and compares deprivations directly." and "Government of India has acknowledged the significance of the global MPI under the mandate of the Global Indices for Reform and Action (GIRG) initiative. The emphasis of the GIRG initiative is not only to improve the country’s performance and ranking in the global indices, but also to leverage the indices as tools for driving systemic reforms and growth."

Like the global MPI, India’s national MPI has three equally weighted dimensions which are represented by 12 indicators – 1. Health [Nutrition, Child & Adolescent Mortality and Maternal Health], 2. Education [Years of Schooling and School Attendance], and 3. Standard of Living [Cooking Fuel, Sanitation, Drinking Water, Housing, Electricity, Assets, and Bank Account].

To further the cause of End Poverty [SDG 1], we need to expand the parameters to have a better and more accurate picture of the reality by including factors such as - 1. Climate and Disaster Resilience/Preparedness, 2. Disability-adjusted Life Years, 3. Universal Accessibility, and 4. Universal Health Coverage as they affect the cost of living, quality of life, and trigger hunger and poverty.

Climate Litigation represents a frontier solution to change the dynamics of the fight against climate change. The Global Climate Litigation Report: 2023 Status Review shows that people increasingly turn to the courts to combat the climate crisis. Climate litigation has more than doubled in the last five years and is now vital in delivering climate justice.

The Report provides an essential resource for all to understand the current state of global climate litigation, including descriptions of the critical issues that courts have faced during climate change cases. The Report further demonstrates the importance of an environmental rule of law in combating the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. The Report reiterates that access to justice protects environmental law and human rights and promotes accountability in public institutions.

The Report states that children and youth, women’s groups, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples, among others, are taking a prominent role in bringing these cases and driving climate change governance reform globally.

Ergo, it's imperative for the disability sector to mainstream legal advocacy to achieve disability-inclusive climate justice, given climate change acts as a threat multiplier having a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, especially persons with disabilities, because of their greater exposure, higher sensitivity, and lower ability to adapt and mitigate to climate change impacts.

Moreover, to ensure access to justice to fight climate change for persons with disabilities, our courts and tribunals must adhere to principles of universal accessibility in all aspects, including the built environment, court websites, and transportation.

Making a Case for a Handbook on Combating Disability Stereotypes

The recently launched Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes by the Supreme Court of India aims to assist judges and the legal community in identifying, understanding and combating stereotypes about women. It contains a glossary of gender-unjust terms and suggests alternative words or phrases that may be used while drafting pleadings, orders, and judgments. There is a need to formulate a similar Handbook on Combating Disability Stereotypes. The Handbook on Combating Disability Stereotypes would be a valuable resource for judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals. It would help them to identify and avoid using language that reinforces negative stereotypes about people with disabilities. The handbook would also provide information on the rights of people with disabilities and how to ensure that these rights are protected in the legal system. There is a need for a handbook on disability stereotypes in India, as people with disabilities are often subjected to discrimination and prejudice, and this can have a significant impact on their lives. The handbook would help to raise awareness of the issue of disability stereotypes and would provide practical guidance on how to combat them. In that background, The Sangyan has submitted, to the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court of India, a representation requesting a similar handbook on disability stereotypes and inclusive languages, given the stigma and taboo related to disability identity and hopes that the guardian of our constitution will take cognizance and appropriate measures to combat disability stereotypes within the Indian legal system.