21st May Current Affairs
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22nd May Current Affairs

The diplomatic immunity

In News:

After she allegedly hit two staff members at a boutique in Seoul last month, the wife of Belgium’s ambassador to South Korea will now be exercising her diplomatic immunity to avoid criminal charges.

Details:

The incident has since sparked anger in South Korea, with debates rife over the extent of protection enjoyed by diplomats and their family members.

What is diplomatic immunity?

It is a privilege of exemption from certain laws and taxes granted to diplomats by the country in which they are posted.

The custom was formed so that diplomats can function without fear, threat or intimidation from the host country.

Diplomatic immunity is granted on the basis of two conventions:

Popularly called the Vienna Conventions — the Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.

The Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.

They have been ratified by 187 countries, which means, it is a law under that country’s legal framework and cannot be violated.

What is the extent of this immunity?

According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the immunity enjoyed by a diplomat posted in the embassy is “inviolable”.

The diplomat cannot be arrested or detained and his house will have the same inviolability and protection as the embassy.

Exceptions:

It is possible for the diplomat’s home country to waive immunity but this can happen only when the individual has committed a ‘serious crime’, unconnected with their diplomatic role or has witnessed such a crime. Alternatively, the home country may prosecute the individual.

What are the Concerns?

While diplomatic immunity is intended to “insulate” diplomats from harm, it does not insulate their countries from a bad reputation and a blow to bilateral ties.

Why are monoclonal antibody therapies in focus & how they work?

In News:

India is facing shortages of the two monoclonal antibody therapies — Itolizumab and Tocilizumab.

Details:

In this article, we shall understand what are antibodies and monoclonal antibodies.

What are Monoclonal antibodies?

They are artificially created antibodies that aim to aid the body’s natural immune system.

They target a specific antigen — a protein from the pathogen that induces immune response.

How are they created?

Monoclonal antibodies can be created in the lab by exposing white blood cells to a particular antigen.

To increase the quantity of antibodies produced, a single white blood cell is cloned, which in turn is used to create identical copies of the antibodies.

In the case of Covid-19, scientists usually work with the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which facilitates the entry of the virus into the host cell.

Need for monoclonal antibodies:

In a healthy body, the immune system is able to create antibodies — tiny Y-shaped proteins in our blood that recognise microbial enemies and bind to them, signalling the immune system to then launch an attack on the pathogen.

However, for people whose immune systems are unable to make sufficient amounts of these antibodies, scientists provide a helping hand- using monoclonal antibodies.

History:

The idea of delivering antibodies to treat a disease dates as far back as the 1900s, when Nobel-prize winning German immunologist Paul Ehrlich proposed the idea of a ‘Zauberkugel‘ (magic bullet), a compound which selectively targets a pathogen.

From then, it took eight decades of research to finally arrive at Muromonab-CD3, the world’s first monoclonal antibody to be approved for clinical use in humans.

Muromonab-CD3 is an immunosuppressant drug given to reduce acute rejection in patients with organ transplants.

Applications:

Monoclonal antibodies are now relatively common. They are used in treating Ebola, HIV, psoriasis etc.

How does 2-DG, DRDO’s new oral drug for Covid-19, work?

In News:

The first batch of the indigenously developed anti-Covid-19 drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose or ‘2-DG’, has been released.

Background:

Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), had cleared the formulation on May 1 for emergency use as an adjunct therapy in moderate to severe Covid-19 patients.

About 2- DG:

2-DG has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), New Delhi, a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Hyderabad-based pharma company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL).

How it works?

The drug accumulates in virus-infected cells, and prevents the growth of the virus by stopping viral synthesis and energy production.

Its selective accumulation in virally-infected cells makes this drug unique.

Benefits:

The molecule helps in faster recovery of patients hospitalised with Covid-19, and reduces their dependence on supplemental oxygen.

2-DG being a generic molecule and an analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in large quantities.

Article 311 of the Constitution

In News:

A suspended Maharashtra police officer has been dismissed from service by Mumbai Police Commissioner under Article 311 (2) (b) of the Indian Constitution without a departmental enquiry.

Safeguards to civil servants:

Article 311(1): It says that a civil servant cannot be dismissed or removed by any authority subordinate to the authority by which he was appointed.

Article 311(2): It says that a civil servant cannot be removed or dismissed or reduced in rank unless he has been given a reasonable opportunity to show cause against action proposed to be taken against him.

Safeguards under Art. 311:

Article 311 is meant to act as a safeguard for civil servants that give them a chance to respond to the charges in an enquiry so that he/she is not arbitrarily dismissed from service.

The article also provides exceptions to these safeguards under subclause 2 provision b.

It states “when an authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank is satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such enquiry”.

Can the dismissal under section 311 (2) be challenged by the government employee?

Yes, the government employee dismissed under these provisions can approach either tribunal like the state administrative tribunal or the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) or the Courts.