Factly articles for 18th August 2020

1.UK Launches Innovation Challenge Fund In India

News: The UK government has launched a £3 million innovation challenge fund in India.


  • Innovation Challenge Fund: The fund aims to support scientists in academia and industry to tackle the most acute global challenges like Covid-19 and the threat to the environment.
  • The fund will help to build on the UK-India Tech partnership which was launched in 2018 by the Indian and British Prime Ministers.

Additional Facts:

  • Project Nirman Shree: It was launched by the European Union in four districts of Odisha and Maharashtra with the aim of empowering women by providing skills in the Housing Sector.
    • The project is being implemented by the Habitat for Humanity India, a housing-focussed not-for-profit organization.

2.Malaysia Detects New Coronavirus Strain ‘D614G’

News: Malaysia has detected a new strain of the novel coronavirus called ‘D614G’, which is considered to be ten times more infectious.


  • D614G: It is the official name given to the new mutated strain of COVID-19.
  • It was first detected in Europe.However, it is now being seen in different parts of the world and has been found in Malaysia for the first time.

Additional Facts:

  • Mutation is a change in a DNA sequence.It can result from DNA copying mistakes made during cell division, exposure to ionizing radiation, exposure to chemicals called mutagens or infection by viruses.

3.Initiatives launched by Ministry of Tribal Affairs


  • ALEKH: It is a e-newsletter that is to be released on quarterly basis.It will showcase the works of different stakeholders involved in improving health and nutrition of tribals.
  • Swasthya Portal: It aims to provide health and nutrition related information of the tribal population of India.
  • Piramal Swasthya: It will act as Centre of Excellence for Knowledge Management for Health and Nutrition.The centre will constantly engage with the Ministry of Tribal and provide valid information.This will help in policy making and decision processes.
  • GOAL (Going Online As Leaders): It is the joint initiative of Facebook and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to empower tribal youth through mentorship, leadership training and digital literacy skills.
  • Empowering Tribals, Transforming India: It is an Online Performance Dashboard that provides updated & real-time details of the schemes as well as initiatives launched by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).

4.Reserve Bank of India introduces Positive Pay mechanism

News: Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has introduced a Positive Pay mechanism to make cheque payments safer and reduce instances of frauds.


  • What is Positive Pay Mechanism? It is a fraud detection tool adopted by banks to protect customers against forged, altered or counterfeit cheques.
  • How does it work? It cross verifies all details of the cheque issued before funds are encashed by the beneficiary. In case of a mismatch, the cheque is sent back to the issuer for examination.
  • Significance: By following such a system, a bank knows of a cheque being drawn by the customer even before it is deposited by the beneficiary into his/her account.

5.Kenya’s coast is losing huge amounts of seagrass: UNEP

News: The UN environmental programme has released a report warning that fishing trawlers, seaweed farming and tourism off the coast of Kenya is threatening the survival of seagrasses.


  • Seagrass: These are flowering marine plants that have adapted to survive in marine conditions.
  • Where are they found? They are mostly found in shallow sandy bottom habitats and can form dense extensive meadows.There are about 72 seagrass species distributed across the world’s temperate and tropical oceans.
  • Significance:
    • They are known as the “lungs of the sea” because one square meter of seagrass can generate 10 liters of oxygen every day through photosynthesis.
    • Seagrasses can trap sediments to absorb nutrients and give us clear waters.
    • They are a source of food, shelter and nursery areas for many organisms, including commercially important fish.
    • They are also important carbon sinks capable of trapping carbon from the atmosphere 40 times faster than tropical rainforests and storing it for hundreds of years.
  • Threats to Seagrasses: a) Climate change b) Global warming c) Erosion and Sediment discharge d) Overfishing e) Pollution among others.

6.India sends tech team to contain Mauritius oil spill

News: India has sent a technical response team to Mauritius to help in efforts to contain a massive oil spill as part of Indian Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).


  • SAGAR: It is a term coined by Indian Prime minister in 2015 which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region.
  • Goals: The goal is to seek
    • A climate of trust and transparency
    • Respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries
    • Sensitivity to each other`s interests
    • Peaceful resolution of maritime issues
    • Increase in maritime cooperation.

Additional Facts:

  • Mission Sagar: It was launched by the Government of India to provide  medical assistance teams and essential food items related to Covid-19 to five Island nations in the Indian Ocean namely Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros.
  • Indian Ocean Commission(IOC): It is an intergovernmental organization that was created in 1982 at Port Louis,Mauritius and institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles.
    • Member States: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (an overseas region of France) and Seychelles.
    • Observer States: China, India, Japan, Malta, European Union, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the United Nations.

7.Death Valley recorded the hottest temperature on Earth

News: Death Valley has registered a temperature of 54.4 degrees Celsius or 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit which could be the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.


  • Death Valley: It is a desert valley in Eastern California,US in the northern Mojave Desert bordering the Great Basin Desert.
  • It is one of the hottest places on Earth along with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara.

Reasons for extreme Heat in Death Valley:

  • Solar heating: The valley’s surface undergoes intense solar heating because the air is clear and dry and the land is dark and sparsely vegetated.This is especially noticeable in summer when the sun is nearly directly overhead.
  • Trapping of warm air: Warm air naturally rises and cools.But in Death Valley this air is subject to continual reheating as it is trapped by high, steep valley walls and recycled back to the valley floor.Warm air also is trapped by the valley’s north–south orientation which runs perpendicular to prevailing west-to-east winds.
  • Migration of warm air from other areas (advection): Warm desert regions adjacent to Death Valley, especially to the south and east often heat air before it arrives in Death Valley.
  • Warm mountain winds: As winds are forced up and over mountains (e.g. the numerous ranges west of Death Valley), the winds can be warmed in several ways.The resulting dry, warm winds are known as foehn winds.