Factly articles for 15th May 2020

1.Explained: How a traditional practice is coming in the way of Japan’s Covid response

News: In Japan, a centuries-old ritual called “Hanko” is being blamed for impeding social distancing efforts in tackling the novel coronavirus pandemic.


  • Hanko:It is a personal stamp used in Japan that is equivalent to a signature in other countries and is an essential part of several transactions.
  • Origin: The use of this traditional stamp can be traced back to almost two millennia when an emperor from China’s Han dynasty gave a solid gold stamp to an envoy from Japan in the year 57 AD.
  • Concerns: Japan has been aggressively promoting a work-from-home policy.However, centuries-old practice is causing employees to go to their workplace as companies prefer to keep their registered stamp at the office premises for security reasons.

2.Energy Transition Index 2020

News: World Economic Forum(WEF) has released the annual rankings of the global Energy Transition Index.


  • The Global Energy Transition index is an annual report that ranks 115 economies across:
    • Performance of their energy systems and
    • Transition readiness for a secure, sustainable affordable and inclusive energy system

Key Takeaways:

  • Top 3: Sweden topped the index followed by Switzerland and Finland.
  • India: It has moved up two positions to rank 74th.

Additional Facts:

World Economic Forum (WEF)

  • It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Objective: To improve the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global,regional and industry agendas.
  • Reports:
    • Global Competitiveness Report
    • Global Gender Gap Report
    • Global Risks Report and
    • Global Travel and Tourism Report among others.

3.Explained: What is the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system

News: Finance minister has announced the national rollout of a ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system in all states and Union Territories by March 2021.


  • One nation one ration card System: It envisages inter-state portability of ration cards under National Food Security Act, 2013(NFSA).
  • Under this, the migratory ration card holders can take their entitled food grains from any Fair Price Shop(FPS) in the country by using their ration card issued in their home States/ UTs after biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale(ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs.
  • So far, 17 states and UTs have come on board to roll out the inter-state portability of ration cards under the NFSA.

Additional Facts:

  • National Food Security Act,2013: It aims to provide food and nutritional security to eligible persons by providing 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
  • Ration cards: These are an official document issued by state governments in India to households that are eligible to purchase subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act.

4.Ministry of Tourism organises webinar series on ‘Exploring River Nila’

News: The Ministry of Tourism’s 17th Dekho ApnaDesh webinar was titled ‘Exploring River Nila’.


  • Nila river is also known as Bharathappuzha. It is the second longest river in Kerala after Periyar.
  • Origin: It originates from Thirumoorthy Hills of Anamalais in Tamil Nadu.It flows through Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram Districts in Kerala and drains into the Arabian Sea at Ponnani in Malappuram District.
  • Main Tributaries: Gayathripuzha River, Kannadipuzha River, Kalpathipuzha River and Thodupuzha River.
  • Significance: It is believed that the indigenous culture of Malayalam (the language of Kerala) has been created and sustained by the great flow of this river.

5.DBT floats N-BRIC to drive PPP in innovation to fight Covid-19

News: The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has established the National Biomedical Resource Indigenisation Consortium(N-BRIC) to drive indigenous innovation.


  • N-BRIC: It is a Public Private Partnership(PPP) between DBT and Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises(ABLE) and Confederation of Indian Industry(CII).
  • The consortium is being hosted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms(C-CAMP).
  • Aim: To establish a nation-wide collaborative platform for convergence of research, product resources and services towards developing reagents, diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics across India to fight Covid-19

Additional Facts:

  • Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises(ABLE): It is a not-for-profit forum launched in 2003 to accelerate the growth of the Biotechnology sector in India through partnering with the Government in their biotechnology initiatives.
  • C-CAMP: It is one of the centers for technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of life sciences under the Department of Biotechnology(DBT).It intends to develop state-of-the-art technologies and to provide training on these technologies to academia and industry.

6.Union Minister dedicates COBAS-6800 testing machine to the nation


  • COBAS 6800 is a fully automated machine enabled with robotics for performing RT-PCR tests for COVID-19.
  • The machine provides high-volume quality testing and will be able to test around 1200 samples in 24 hours.
  • It is installed at the National Centre for Disease Control(NCDC).
  • Significance: It will help minimize the chance of contamination and the risk of contraction of the virus by healthcare professionals as the machine is operated remotely with very little human intervention.

Additional Facts:

  • Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction(RT-PCR) Tests:It is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen including a virus.
  • NCDC: It is an institute under the Indian Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for disease surveillance facilitating prevention and control of communicable diseases.

7.2nd economic package tranche: Atma Nirbhar Bharat

News: Union Finance Ministry announced the 2nd economic package under Atma Nirbhar Bharat for supporting the poor, including migrants, farmers, small businesses and street vendors.


Key measures:

  • Migrants:
    • Free food grains will be supplied to all Migrant labourers for 2 months i.e. May and June,2020.Migrant labourers not covered under National Food Security Act(NFSA),2013 or without a ration card in the State/UT in which they are stranded at present will be eligible for this.
    • Technology systems to be used to enable Migrants to access PDS (Ration) from any Fair Price Shops in India so as to achieve 100% National portability by March, 2021 under One Nation one Ration Card scheme.
    • The Central Government will launch a scheme for migrant workers and urban poor to provide ease of living at affordable rent.
  • Street Vendors: Special scheme to facilitate easy access to credit to Street vendors. 50 lakh street vendors will be benefited under this scheme and credit of Rs. 5,000 crore would flow to them.
  • Job Creation: Rs,6000 crore funds under Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority(CAMPA) will be used for Afforestation and Plantation works including in urban areas.This will create job opportunities.
  • MUDRA loans: Government will provide Interest subvention of 2% for prompt payees for a period of 12 months to MUDRA Shishu loanees, who have loans below Rs 50,000.
  • Affordable Housing: Credit linked subsidy scheme for the middle income group (annual income between Rs 6 to 18 lakh) will be extended up to March 31,2020.
  • NABARD will extend additional re-finance support of Rs 30,000 crore for meeting crop loan requirements of Rural Cooperative Banks and RRBs.
  • Farmers: Special drive to be conducted to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan Credit Cards.

8.More time needed for rolling out virus diagnostic test

News: The Chitra GeneLAMP-N testing kit for coronavirus may be delayed for several more weeks as it needs more confirmatory testing as well as changes in its configuration.


  • Chitra GeneLAMP-N testing kit has been developed by Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology,Trivandrum.
  • The test detects two regions of the N gene of SARS- COV2 using RT-Loop mediated isothermal amplification(RT-LAMP) method which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread.

Additional Facts:

Reverse Transcription-based Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP):

  • It is a technique for the amplification of RNA.It is used in the detection of viruses.
  • In this method, a DNA copy of the viral RNA is generated by reverse transcriptase and then isothermal amplification is carried out to increase the amount of total DNA.
  • Reverse transcriptase (RT):It is an enzyme used to generate complementary DNA (DNA) from an RNA template, a process termed reverse transcription.
  • Isothermal amplification: It enables rapid and specific amplification of DNA at constant temperature (60-65 °C).