Daily Current Affairs : 18th July 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. National Pension Scheme
  3. Single Curriculum
  4. One China Policy
  5. Delimitation in North East
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . National Pension Scheme

Context : The uncertainties emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have expedited enrolments in the National Pension System (NPS), a voluntary defined contribution pension scheme of the Government of India, as many private sector employees and employers were found to be seeking financial security, post retirement, through pension schemes.

About National Pension Scheme

  • National Pension Scheme (NPS) is a government-sponsored pension scheme. It was launched in January 2004 for government employees. However, in 2009, it was opened to all sections.
  • The scheme allows subscribers to contribute regularly in a pension account during their working life. On retirement, subscribers can withdraw a part of the corpus in a lumpsum and use the remaining corpus to buy an annuity to secure a regular income after retirement.
  • The Scheme is regulated by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).National Pension System Trust (NPST) established by PFRDA is the registered owner of all assets under NPS.

Who can join NPS?

  • Any Indian citizen between 18 and 60 years can join NPS. The only condition is that the person must comply with know your customer (KYC) norms.

Can a Non Resident Indian (NRI) join NPS?

  • Yes, an NRI can join NPS. However, the account will be closed if there is a change in the citizenship status of the NRI.

What is the minimum contribution in NPS?

  • You have to contribute a minimum of Rs 6,000 in your Tier-I account in a financial year.

Tier 1 and Tier II Account

  • Tier I is the retirement account while Tier II account is a voluntary investment vehicle where you can put in and withdraw money at any time.
  • The big difference between the two is on withdrawal of money invested in them. You cannot withdraw the entire money from Tier-I account till your retirement. Even on retirement, there are restrictions on withdrawal on the Tier-I account. The subscriber is free to withdraw the entire money from the Tier-II account.
  • It is only under the Tier I account that your contributions earn tax breaks of up to ₹1.5 lakh a year under section 80C and the additional exemption of ₹50,000 a year under section 80CCD (1B). Tier II contributions do not earn any tax breaks.

Pension Fund manager

  • The NPS lets you choose who will manage your money.
  • The scheme currently has 7 pension fund managers (PFMs) on its menu – Birla Sun Life Pension Management, HDFC Pension Management Company, ICICI Prudential Pension Management Company, Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund, LIC Pension Fund, SBI Pension Funds and UTI Retirement Solutions.
  • One of the most investor-friendly features of NPS is that it allows you to change your choice of PFMs and asset allocations once a year, without any costs or tax implications

Asset classes

  • The NPS allocates your accumulated contributions into four asset classes – Equity (E), Corporate bonds (C), Government Bonds (G) and Alternative Investment Funds such as private equity funds, REITs, Invits (A). Your allocation among these is critical to your final returns.

Auto or Active choice

  • To implement an asset allocation, the NPS presents you with two possibilities — an Auto choice and an Active choice. The Auto choice helps you put your allocation in self-driving mode. The Active choice lets you to control how your contributions will be divided.

The benefits of NPS are

  • It is voluntary – A Subscriber can contribute at any point of time in a Financial Year and also change the amount he wants to set aside and save every year.
  • It is simple – Subscriber is required to open an account with any one of the POPs (Point of Presence) or through eNPS
  • It is flexible – Subscribers can choose their own investment options and pension fund and see their money grow.
  • It is portable – Subscribers can operate their account from anywhere, even if they change the city and/or employment.
  • It is regulated – NPS is regulated by PFRDA, with transparent investment norms and regular monitoring and performance review of fund managers by NPS Trust.


Context: A high-level dialogue of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on “Multilateralism after COVID-19: What kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary?” was held recently.

About the news

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the ECOSOC gathering virtually, along with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
  • He called on members of the United Nations to pledge for reform within the world body
  • He stated that the multilateral system needed to more representative, and India believed that “the path to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity” was through multilateralism.

India’s fight against the pandemic

  • India has extended assistance to more than 150 countries and also helped set up a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) COVID-19 emergency fund in the South Asian neighbourhood.
  • A government package of $300 billion to “bring the economy back on track, build modern infrastructure and put in place a technology-driven system”.


  • The Economic and Social Council is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.
  • It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals.


  • ECOSOC has 54 member Governments which are elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly. Seats on the Council are allotted based on geographical representation with fourteen allocated to African States, eleven to Asian States, six to Eastern European States, ten to Latin American and Caribbean States, and thirteen to Western European and other States.
  • The Bureau of ECOSOC includes one Government from each of five world regions – Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, East Europe, and West Europe and the other developed countries. Each year, a representative from a different region is chosen to head the Council as its President.


  • ECOSOC, one of the six main organs of the United Nations established by the UN Charter in 1946, is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as for implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.
  • ECOSOC serves as the central mechanism for the activities of the United Nations system and its specialized agencies, and supervises the subsidiary and expert bodies in the economic, social and environmental fields.
  • ECOSOC has undergone reforms in the last decade to strengthen the Council and its working methods, giving special attention to the integrated and coordinated implementation of, and follow-up to, the outcomes of all major United Nations conferences summits in the economic, social, environmental and related fields.


  • ECOSOC engages a wide variety of stakeholders – policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, major groups, foundations, business sector representatives and 3,200+ registered non-governmental organizations – in a productive dialogue on sustainable development through a programmatic cycle of meetings.
  • The work of the Council is guided by an issue-based approach, and there is an annual theme that accompanies each programmatic cycle, ensuring a sustained and focused discussion among multiple stakeholders.
  • At the 2005 World Summit, Heads of State and Government mandated the Economic and Social Council to hold Annual Ministerial Reviews (AMR) and a biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).

Programmatic cycle of ECOSOC

  • High-Level Segment
    • High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments;
    • Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), held annually since 2007, assesses progress in the implementation of the United Nations development agenda;  
    • Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), held on a biannual basis since 2007, reviews trends and progress in development cooperation on a biannual basis.
  • Integration Segment, held annually since 2014, promotes the balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development both within the United Nations system and beyond.
  • Humanitarian Affairs Segment, that takes place in alternate years in New York and Geneva, seeks to strengthen the coordination of the United Nations’ humanitarian efforts.
  • Operational Activities for Development Segment, held annually, provides overall coordination and guidance for United Nations funds and programmes on a system-wide basis.
  • Coordination and Management Meetings (CMM), held throughout the year, review the reports of its subsidiary and expert bodies; promote system-wide coordination and review of development issues; and consider special country situation or regional issues.  
  • Youth Forum, held annually since 2012, brings the voice of youth into the discussion of the Millennium Development Goals and post-2015 development agenda.
  • Partnership Forum, held annually since 2008 and linked to the theme of the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review, aims at finding innovative ways to collaborate with the private sector and foundations in search of solutions for the many development challenges facing governments today.


  • The theme of this year is “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development “.
  • The HLPF annual meeting is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • In the 2020 HLPF, participants will debate where we stand on the SDGs in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They will reflect on how the international community can respond to the pandemic in a way that puts us back on track to achieve the SDGs and accelerate progress during the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.
  • 47 countries will carry out voluntary national reviews (VNRs) of their implementation of the 2030 Agenda

3 . Single curriculum

Context: Supreme Court  has refused the plea for single curriculum.

About the news

  • A plea was filed in the SupremeCourt for a uniform and common curriculum for school students in the age group of six to 14 across the country instead of diverse ones such as the CBSE, the ICSE and State Boards.
  • The plea was to set up a National Education Council/Commission and follow a “one nation, one-board” system and merge the ICSE with the CBSE.
  • It also urged a standard textbook with chapters on fundamental rights, duties, directive principles and the golden goals set out in the Preamble, and make its study compulsory for all the children aged 6-14 years throughout the territory of India.
  • This plea was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court’s stand on the issue?

  • SC has stated that it was a “matter of policy” and the judiciary could not “command” the government.
  • SC further stated that adding more syllabus regarding constitution would be an additional burden to the already burdened students.

Benefits of a common syllabus and curriculum

  • Uniform education system having common syllabus and common curriculum would achieve the code of a common culture, removal of disparity and depletion of discriminatory values in human relations.
  • It would enhance virtues and improve the quality of life, elevate the thoughts, which advance constitutional philosophy of equal society
  • A common syllabus and curriculum will provide equal opportunity to all students in the entrance examinations as most are based on CBSE

4 . One China Policy

Context : Taiwanese officials in Hong Kong have been told their visas will not be renewed unless they sign a document supporting Beijing’s claim to Taiwan under its “one China” policy, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The move comes after Taipei criticised a new security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing, and opened an office in Taipei this month to help people who may want to leave the Asian financial centre.

What is the ‘One China’ policy?

  • It is the diplomatic acknowledgement of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
  • Under the policy, the countries recognises and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day.
  • The One China policy however, it is distinct from the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inalienable part of one China to be reunified one day.
  • Although Taiwan’s government claims it is an independent country officially called the “Republic of China”, any country that wants diplomatic relations with mainland China must break official ties with Taipei.

Origin of Policy

  • The policy can be traced back to 1949 and the end of the Chinese civil war.
  • The defeated Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang, retreated to Taiwan and made it their seat of government while the victorious Communists began ruling the mainland as the People’s Republic of China. Both sides said they represented all of China.
  • Since then China’s ruling Communist Party has threatened to use force if Taiwan ever formally declares independence, but it has also pursued a softer diplomatic track with the island in recent years.
  • Initially, many governments including the US recognised Taiwan as they shied away from Communist China. But the diplomatic winds shifted as China and the United States saw a mutual need to develop relations beginning in the 1970s, with the US and other countries cutting ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing.
  • Many however still maintain informal relations with Taiwan through trade offices or cultural institutes.

5 . Delimitation in North East

Context : Former legal advisor has red-flagged the Union government’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland, calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”. When delimitation last took place in the rest of the country in 2002-08, these states had been left out.

What is delimitation and why is it needed?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats to represent changes in population. In this process, the number of seats allocated to a state may also change.
  • The objective is to provide equal representation for equal population segments, and a fair division of geographical areas, so that no political party has an advantage. The Delimitation Commission’s orders cannot be questioned before any court.

How often has delimitation been done?

  • Delimitation is done on the basis of the preceding Census. The first such exercise in 1950-51 was carried out by the President, with the help of the Election Commission. Following the Delimitation Commission Act in 1952, all such exercises have been conducted by Delimitation Commissions — set up in 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses. This was a fallout of the provision that the ratio between the number of Lok Sabha seats in a state and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states. Although unintended, this meant that states that took little interest in population control could end up with more seats in Parliament, while the southern states that promoted family planning could end up with fewer seats. Amid these concerns, the Constitution was amended in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
  • Another amendment extended the freeze on the number of seats until 2026, by when the country was projected to achieve a uniform population growth rate. So, the last delimitation exercise between July 2002 and March 31, 2008, based on the 2001 Census, only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.

Why were these four states left out in 2002-08?

  • In Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, various organisations had moved the Gauhati High Court against the 2002-08 exercise, challenging the use of the 2001 Census for reference.
  • From Assam, an all-party delegation met then Home Minister Shivraj Patil pleading that delimitation be called off because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was yet to be updated.
  • The Delimitation Act was amended in 2008, and on February 8, 2008, Presidential orders were issued to defer delimitation in these four states.

So, when and why did the government decide to resume delimitation for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland?

  • On February 28 this year, President Ram Nath Kovind cleared the decks for the resumption of the delimitation exercise in the four states by cancelling the order of February 8, 2008.
  • The fresh order issued by the Legislative Department of the Law Ministry said “it appears that the circumstances that led to the deferring of the delimitation exercise” in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland “have ceased to exist and that the delimitation of the constituencies as envisaged under the Delimitation Act, 2002 could be carried out now”. It noted that there had been a reduction in insurgency incidents, making the situation conducive for carrying out delimitation.
  • Subsequently, on March 6, the Law Ministry notified the Delimitation Commission for the four northeast states and Jammu and Kashmir, which was also left out in 2002-08. Former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai is its chairperson, and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra is the EC’s representative on the panel.

Will delimitation change the number of seats in these states?

  • Not in the four Northeast states. There is a freeze until 2026 on the number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in any state. Delimitation will only redraw the boundaries of seats in each state, and can rework the number of reserved seats for SCs and STs.
  • However, because of exceptional past circumstances, Jammu & Kashmir’s Assembly seats will now increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to increase Jammu region’s representation.

Why has EC’s former legal advisor called the new Delimitation Commission “illegal” and “unconstitutional”?

  • According to SK Mendiratta, the Law Ministry’s notification of March 6 violates the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • In 2008, after the President deferred delimitation in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, the Parliament decided that instead of creating another Delimitation Commission in future for the limited purpose of redrawing seat boundaries in the four northeastern states, the exercise there would be carried out by the EC. The Representation of the People Act 1950 was amended, and Section 8A was introduced for this purpose.
  • The Parliament was guided by the fact that there is precedence of the EC being vested with the authority to redraw boundaries of constituencies – including when Delhi was delimited into 70 seats in 1991-92, and Uttarakhand into 70 seats in 2000.
  • Pointing out the contradiction between the Law Ministry’s notification of March 6 and Section 8A of the RP Act 1950. Since the RP Act 1950 clearly states that delimitation in the four northeastern states, when held, would fall within the EC’s remit, the Centre should not have notified a separate Delimitation Commission for this purpose, Mendiratta wrote in his letter. Hence, any delimitation exercise in Arunachal, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland by the new Delimitation Commission would be “declared void by the courts” and, subsequently, result in “wastage of huge precious public funds

6 . Facts for Prelims


  • Recently Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli claimed that the real birthplace of Lord Ram is located in Thori village around Birgunj, a major border town.
  • Thori is known to have a cluster of ancient Hindu religious sites that draw pilgrims from different parts of Nepal.
  • The department has been holding several meetings with different ministries to discuss the possibility of starting archaeological studies in Thori.

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