Factly articles for 18th July 2020

1.Automotive technology e-portal from International Centre of Automotive Technology(ICAT)

News: The International Centre of Automotive Technology(ICAT) has launched its e-portal named “ASPIRE”( Automobile Solutions Portal for Industry, Research & Education).


  • Objective: To facilitate the Indian Automotive Industry to become self reliant by assisting in innovation and adoption of global technological advancements by bringing together the stakeholders from various associated avenues.
  • Key Activities Includes: Research and Development, Product Technology Development, Technological Innovations, Manufacturing and Process Technology Development, Hosting Challenges for Technology Development among others.

Additional Facts:

  • ICAT: It is a leading world-class automotive testing,certification and R&D service provider located in Haryana.It works under the aegis of National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project(NATRiP).
  • NATRiP: It is a fully Government of India funded project.It aims at creating core global competencies in the automotive sector by facilitating seamless integration of Indian Automotive industry with the world through setting up state-of-the-art automotive testing, R&D infrastructure facilities.

2.Joint Statement on U.S.-India Strategy Energy Partnership

News: India and the United States have issued a joint statement on the U.S.-India Strategy Energy Partnership.


  • U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership(SEP): It was established in 2018 to build upon energy partnership and set the stage for meaningful engagements through robust government-to-government cooperation and industry engagement.
  • Pillars: The SEP organizes inter-agency engagement on both sides across four primary pillars of cooperation: (1) Power and Energy Efficiency; (2) Oil and Gas; (3) Renewable Energy; and (4) Sustainable Growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Partnership to Advance Clean Energy(PACE): It was launched in 2009 by India and the United States to accelerate inclusive, low carbon growth by supporting research and deployment of clean energy technologies.
  • Hydrogen Task Force: It is a public-private initiative launched by India and US to help scale up technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and fossil fuel sources and to bring down the cost of deployment for enhanced energy security and resilience.
  • Solar Decathlon: The two countries signed an MOU to collaborate on India’s first-ever Solar Decathlon® India in 2021 establishing a collegiate competition to prepare the next generation of building professionals to design and build high efficiency buildings powered by renewables.
  • Retrofit of Air Conditioning to Improve Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency(RAISE): It is a joint initiative of USAID and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd(EESL) for healthy and energy efficient buildings.
  • South Asia Women in Energy(SAWIE) platform: It was launched by USAID with an aim to promote women’s empowerment and gender sensitization in the energy sector in the South Asia region.
  • India Energy Modeling Forum: It was launched jointly by USAID and NITI Aayog to provide a platform for policy makers to study important energy and environmental issues and ensure induction of modelling and analysis in informed decision making process.

3.PM SVANidhi app launched to help street vendors apply for micro loans

News:  The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi(PM SVANidhi) App.


  • Objective: To provide a user-friendly digital interface for lending institutions (LIs) and their field functionaries for sourcing and processing loan applications of street vendors under the PM SVANidhi scheme.

Additional Facts:

  • PM SVANidhi scheme: It is a Central Sector Scheme to facilitate street vendors to access affordable working capital loan for resuming their livelihoods activities after easing of lockdown.
  • Features:
    • Initial working capital of up to 10,000/.
    • Interest subsidy on timely/ early repayment @ 7%.
    • Higher loan eligibility on timely repayment of the first loan.
  • Beneficiaries: Street vendors/ hawkers vending in urban areas as on or before March 24,2020 including the vendors of surrounding peri-urban and rural areas.
  • Lending Institutions: Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks, Small Finance Banks, Cooperative Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies, Micro-Finance Institutions and SHG Banks.
  • Tenure: The Scheme shall be implemented up to March, 2022.

4.Zydus Cadila begins human trials of its potential Covid-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D

News: India has started the clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine – ZyCoV-D.


  • ZyCoV-D: It is a plasmid DNA vaccine designed and developed by Zydus, a pharmaceutical company.
  • The vaccine comes under the Vaccine Discovery Programme supported by the Department of Biotechnology under the National Biopharma Mission.

Additional Facts:

  • National Biopharma Mission(NBM): It is an Academia-Industry Collaborative Mission for Accelerating Discovery Research to Early Development for Biopharmaceuticals.
  • Launched Year: It was launched in 2017 at a total cost of Rs 1500 crore and is 50% co-funded by World Bank loan.
  • Objective: To enable and nurture an ecosystem for preparing India’s technological development capabilities in biopharmaceuticals including vaccines, medical devices and diagnostics to a level that will be globally competitive over the next decade.
  • Implementation: Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • Innovate in India(i3) Programme: Under this Mission, the Government has launched Innovate in India(i3) programme to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the biopharma sector.

5.Explained: What is APT29 group accused of ‘hacking’ Covid-19 vaccine?

Facts: APT29 also known as Dukes or Cozy Bear is a cyber espionage group believed to be associated with Russian intelligence.It uses a variety of tools and techniques such as custom malware known as ‘WellMess’ and ‘WellMail’ to target government, diplomatic and a number of organisations globally.

6.UN blacklists Pakistan Taliban terror group’s leader

News: United Nations Security Council(UNSC) 1267 committee has  designated Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) leader Noor Wali Mehsud as a global terrorist.


  • UNSC 1267 Committee: It was established as a result of resolution 1267 (in 1999).It is also known as the Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
  • Composition: The Committee comprises all 15 members of the UNSC which makes its decision by consensus.
  • Mandate: The Committee is mandated to:
    • oversee the implementation of the sanctions measures
    • designate individuals and entities who meet the listing criteria set out in the relevant resolutions among others.
  • Sanction measures: If an individual or an organisation is included in the list,it leads to:
    • countries to freeze the targeted groups or individual’s assets
    • ban designated individuals from travelling and
    • prevent the supply of weapons, technology and other aid.

7.Kaziranga National Park

News: The flooding in the Kaziranga National Park has caused the death of over 85 animals.


  • Kaziranga National Park: It is located in the State of Assam and is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain.
  • The park was declared as a National Park in 1974 and was also declared as a Tiger Reserve in 2006.
  • In 1985, the park was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
  • It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.
  • It also houses the world’s largest population of Great One-horned Rhinoceros (IUCN Status- Vulnerable).

Additional Facts:

  • Kazi 106F: It is described as the country’s only Golden Tiger which resides in the Kaziranga National Park.It is also known as ‘Tabby tiger’ or ‘Strawberry tiger’.