Newly found fossils of Vishnuonyx have been found in the area of Hammerschmiede, which is a fossil site in Bavaria, Germany.
- Between 12.5 million and 14 million years ago, members of a genus of otters called Vishnuonyx lived in the major rivers of southern Asia.
- Fossils of these now extinct otters were first discovered in sediments found in the foothills of the Himalayas.
- Now, the newly found fossil indicates it had travelled as far as Germany.
- The newly discovered fossils have been named Vishnuonyx neptuni, meaning ‘Neptune’s Vishnu’.
- This is the first discovery of any member of the Vishnuonyx genus in Europe.
- It is also its most northern and western record till date.
- Vishnuonyx were mid-sized predators that weighed, on average, 10-15 kg.
- Before this, the genus was known only in Asia and Africa.
- Vishnuonyx depended on water and could not travel long distances over land.
How did it travel as far as Europe?
- According to the researchers, its travels over 6,000 km were probably made possible by the geography of 12 million years ago, when the Alps were recently formed.
- These Alps and the Iranian Elbrus Mountains were separated by a large ocean basin, which would have made it easier for the otters to cross it.
Vodafone Idea (Vi) claimed to have achieved a peak 5G data speed of 3.7Gbps on the mmWave spectrum band in a recent test conducted in Pune, Maharashtra. Peak downloads speeds of up to 1.5Gbps in the 3.5Ghz band 5G trial network in Gandhinagar and Pune.
What is 5G?
- 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.
Features and benefits of the 5G technology:
- Operate in the millimeter wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which have the advantage of sending large amounts of data at very high speeds.
- Operate in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum.
- Reduced latency will support new applications that leverage the power of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.
- Increased capacity on 5G networks can minimize the impact of load spikes, like those that take place during sporting events and news events.
Significance of the technology:
India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 highlights the importance of 5G when it states that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities.
What are the potential health risks from 5G?
To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.
- Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.
- As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye).
Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.
What are the international exposure guidelines?
Two international bodies produce exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. Many countries currently adhere to the guidelines recommended by:
- The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, through the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety.
These guidelines are not technology-specific. They cover radiofrequencies up to 300 GHz, including the frequencies under discussion for 5G.
International efforts- International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project:
WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project in 1996. The project investigates the health impact of exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range 0-300 GHz and advises national authorities on EMF radiation protection.
‘Sea snot’ outbreak in Turkey:
The sea snot that dominated the landlocked Marmara Sea earlier this year is nowhere to be seen on the surface nowadays, but its fallout appears to be bigger than experts initially hoped.
Impact of sea snot:
- Overall, 60% of species have already disappeared.
- The layers have sunk and are beginning to decompose.
- The decomposition consumes oxygen in the water, which in turn promotes the formation of new marine mucilage.
- In October, the conditions will be particularly favorable for a new spread. Therefore, the sludge may be visible on the surface again in November.
- The slime could also spread to the Black Sea and the Aegean and may cause a regional ecological crisis.
- Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, has witnessed the largest outbreak of ‘sea snot’. The sludge has also been spotted in the adjoining Black and Aegean seas.
What is sea snot?
- It is a slimy layer of grey or green sludge, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.
- It is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients.
- A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in the country in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece.
- Overloading of nutrients happens because of warm weather caused by global warming, water pollution, uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas etc.
What are the impacts? Concerns?
- It has spread through the sea south of Istanbul and also blanketed harbours and shorelines.
- It is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country- it has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.
- If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.
- Over a period of time, it could end up poisoning all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.
- Besides aquatic life, the ‘sea snot’ outbreak has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen.
- It can also cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.
Steps taken by Turkey to contain its spread:
- Turkey has decided to declare the entire Sea of Marmara as a protected area.
- Steps are being taken to reduce pollution and improve treatment of waste water from coastal cities and ships.
- A disaster management plan is being prepared.
Global Innovation Index 2021
- India has climbed 2 spots and has been ranked 46th by the World Intellectual Property Organization in the Global Innovation Index 2021 rankings.
- India has been on a rising trajectory, over the past several years in the Global Innovation Index (GII), from a rank of 81 in 2015 to 46 in 2021.
Global Innovation Index (GII):
- The GII provides new data and analysis on the state of global innovation, and allows readers and policy-makers to benchmark the innovation ecosystem performance of more than 130 economies.
- This year, a novel new feature, the Global Innovation Tracker, gives a snapshot on the pulse of global innovation, including throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt around the world, the 2021 GII assesses the impact of the crisis on global innovation performance.
NCRB data on ‘Offences against State’:
As per the latest data released by NCRB:
- Manipur, Assam and Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of cases under ‘Offences against State’ in 2020.
- However, there was a decline in the overall number of cases registered — 5,613 cases (26.7 per cent) in 2020 as against 7,656 cases in 2019.
- Of the 5,613 cases, 4,524 cases (80.6 per cent) were registered under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, followed by 796 cases (14.2 per cent) under UAPA.
- Meanwhile, Manipur, Assam, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of sedition cases in 2020.
- Among the Union Territories, Delhi recorded 5 sedition cases.
What are offences against the state?
‘Offences against State’ includes cases booked under sedition, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Official Secrets Act, damage to public property, and imputation, assertions prejudicial to national integration.
Let’s learn more about sedition. What is sedition?
Section 124A of the IPC states, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
Need for a proper definition?
The sedition law has been in controversy for far too long. Often the governments are criticized for using the law — Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — against vocal critics of their policies.
- Therefore, this Section is seen as a restriction of individuals’ freedom of expression and falls short of the provisions of reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The law has been in debate ever since it was brought into force by the colonial British rulers in 1860s. Several top freedom movement leaders including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were booked under the sedition law.
- Mahatma Gandhi described it as the “prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.”
- Nehru had described it as “highly objectionable and obnoxious” which “should have no place in any body of laws that we might pass”. Nehru said, “The sooner we get rid of it the better.”
Relevant Supreme Court judgements:
- The Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case (1962):
While dealing with offences under Section 124A of the IPC, a five-judge Supreme Court constitutional bench had, in the Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case (1962), laid down some guiding principles.
- The court ruled that comments-however strongly worded-expressing disapprobation of the actions of the government without causing public disorder by acts of violence would not be penal.
- The Balwant Singh vs State of Punjab (1995) case:
In this case, the Supreme Court had clarified that merely shouting slogans, in this case Khalistan Zindabad, does not amount to sedition. Evidently, the sedition law is being both misunderstood and misused to muzzle dissent.
Observations made in 2020:
- It is time we define the limits of sedition.
- Provisions of 124A (sedition) and 153 (promoting enmity between classes) of the IPC require interpretation, particularly on the issue of the rights of press and free speech.
Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Rohingya Crisis:
Indian security agencies have reported that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and its functionaries might have taken refuge in the country.
What is ARSA?
- ARSA, formerly known as Harakah al-Yakin, or ‘Faith Movement’, is currently active among the Rohingya residents in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
- It claims to be fighting for the rights of the Rohingya population in Myanmar, which were denied by the government.
What’s the issue?
The United Nations has described Rohingya as “the most persecuted minority in the world” due to the systematic discrimination they face. A tide of displaced people are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries since 2017 as they fled Myanmar with horrifying claims of gang rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces.
Who are Rohingyas?
- They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims. They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar.
- They are, basically, stateless, Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
- There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis. An estimated 625,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar, had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 2017.
Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”.
Protection available to Rohingyas under the International Conventions:
- The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol:
They define the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.
- The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.
- However, the concern now is that Bangladesh is not a signatory to this convention.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
Even though the refugees are foreigners in the country of asylum, by virtue of Article 2 of the ICCPR, 1966, they could enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms as nationals- the right to equality before the law, equal protection of the law and non-discrimination.