- It is the formal scientiﬁc classiﬁcation given to the “double mutant” virus that scientists had ﬂagged last month as having a bearing on the spread of the pandemic in India.
- The variant is common in India and has a couple of deﬁning mutations, E484Q and L425R, that enable it to become more infectious and evade antibodies.
- Though these mutations have individually been found in several other coronavirus variants, the presence of both mutations together were ﬁrst found in some coronavirus genomes from India. It is now present in at least eight countries.
- Other than the two mutations, there is a third signiﬁcant mutation, P614R. All three concerning mutations are on the spike protein, the operative part of the coronavirus that binds to receptor cells of the body.
- Certain variants of the coronavirus, for instance, B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom variant) and B.1.351(South Africa variant) are termed “variants of concern (VOC)”.
- So far, only three global VOCs have been identiﬁed: the U.K. variant, the South African and the Brazilian (P.1) lineage.
Source: The Hindu
Exclusive economic zone and UNCLOS
Context: China has refused repeated appeals by the Philippines to withdraw its vessels, which Philippines says unlawfully entered its exclusive economic zone.
- United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is also sometimes referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty.
- UNCLOS, as a law of the sea, came into operation and became effective from 16th November 1982.
- UNCLOS as the currently prevailing law of the sea is binding completely.
- The IMO (International Maritime Organisation) plays a vital role in the operation of UNCLOS. Along with the IMO, organisations like the International Whaling Commission and the International Seabed Authority are vital parties in the functional areas of the nautical law
- UNCLOS divides marine areas into five main zones – Internal Waters, Territorial Waters, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the High Seas.
- It is the low-water line along the coast as officially recognized by the coastal state.
- Waters on the landward side of the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
- Each coastal state has full sovereignty over its internal waters as like its land territory.
- Innocent passage refers to the passing through the waters which are not prejudicial to peace and security. However, the nations have the right to suspend the same. Examples of internal waters include bays, ports, inlets, rivers and even lakes that are connected to the sea.
- There is no right of innocent passage through internal waters.
- It extends seaward up to 12 nautical miles from its baselines.
- The coastal states have sovereignty and jurisdiction over the territorial sea.
- These rights extend to seabed, subsoil, and even airspace.
- Coastal states’ rights are limited by innocent passage through the territorial sea.
- It extends seaward up to 24 nm from its baselines.
- It is an intermediary zone between the territorial sea and the high seas.
- The coastal state has the right to both prevent and punish infringement of fiscal, immigration, sanitary, and customs laws within its territory and territorial sea.
- Contiguous zone only gives jurisdiction to a state on the ocean’s surface and floor. It does not provide air and space rights.
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ):
- Each coastal State may claim an EEZ beyond and adjacent to its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 200 nm from its baselines.
- Coastal state has:
- Sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, whether living or nonliving, of the seabed and subsoil.
- Rights to carry out activities like the production of energy from the water, currents and wind.
- It does not give a coastal state the right to prohibit or limit freedom of navigation or overflight, subject to very limited exceptions.
- The ocean surface and the water column beyond the EEZ are referred to as the high seas.
- It is considered as “the common heritage of all mankind” and is beyond any national jurisdiction.
Source: The Hindu
- Department of Science & Technology (DST) launched a multipronged nationwide mass awareness campaign with information packages to bust myths about COVID 19 vaccination.
- It has been launched in 11 languages, including English and Hindi, to make the immunization programme successful.
- The COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign is organized by Indian National Young Academy of Sciences (INYAS).
- It will be carried out through COVACNEWS android-based mobile app made by INYAS for ensuring information at the fingertips.
- A pan-India info-graphic video and audio competition with motivation to transform information into better readable and effective formats is also being organised along with the GYAN TEEKA webinar series dedicated to increase awareness about vaccines through eminent speakers and open statement on COVID-19 vaccination.
- The entries of the competition will be utilized to increase vaccine awareness by INYAS, and these competitions will be judged in three groups – school, college and professional.
Critical view of Draft Migrant Policy
- Spurred by the exodus of 10 million migrants (as per government estimates) from big cities during the Covid-19 lockdown, NITI Aayog, along with a working subgroup of officials and members of civil society, has prepared a draft national migrant labour policy.
- Niti Ayog’s draft Migrant Labour Policy is a clear statement of intent to better recognise migrants’ contribution to the economy and support them in their endeavours.
- It puts forward several radical ideas including the adoption of a rights-based approach and creating an additional layer of institutions to create a more enabling policy environment for migrants.
- It proposes a new National Migration Policy and the formation of a special unit within the Ministry of Labour and Employment to work closely with other ministries.
- The new structure would bring about much-needed convergence across line departments and would be a huge step towards a universal understanding of the causes and effects of migration as well as the interventions needed.
- It calls for improving the record on the implementation of the country’s many labour laws that have, by and large, failed to make a difference to the lives of labour migrants.
- The policy needs to delve deeper into the causes underlying the poor implementation of labour laws that are linked to the political economy of recruitment and placement.
- There is a reference to unfair recruitment practices in the document, but virtually no analysis of why the system persists and how it is enabled by the employment structure of businesses and enterprises.
- The draft needs to be strengthened is addressing gender differences in employment.
- Domestic work is one of the most important occupations for migrant women from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds. Although the new policy aims to be inclusive of all kinds of marginalised migrants, it could do more to explicitly mention the challenges faced by the workers in such circumstances.
- The apparent ambivalence about the ability of tribal migrants to think for themselves and decide how they access the opportunities offered by migration.
The draft policy is a good start which could, with a few adjustments, reduce the vulnerability and risks faced by labour migrants and ultimately build a more sustainable model of development.
Source: Indian Express
Context: An Iranian freighter was hit by an “explosion” in the Red Sea. The blast struck the “Iranian commercial vessel” MV Saviz oﬀ the coast of Djibouti.
- Red Sea is a narrow strip of water extending southeastward from Suez, Egypt to the Babel-Mandeb Strait, which connects with the Gulf of Aden and thence with the Arabian Sea.
- At its northern end the Red Sea splits into two parts, the Gulf of Suez to the northwest and the Gulf of Aqaba to the northeast.
- The Red Sea lies in a fault depression that separates two great blocks of Earth’s crust—Arabia and North Africa.
- The Red Sea contains some of the world’s hottest and saltiest seawater.
- With its connection to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, it is one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the world, carrying maritime traffic between Europe and Asia.
- Its name is derived from the colour changes observed in its waters.
- Normally, the Red Sea is an intense blue-green; occasionally, however, it is populated by extensive blooms of the algae Trichodesmiumerythraeum, which, upon dying off, turn the sea a reddish brown colour.