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Current Affairs 02 May 2024

  1. AstraZeneca Acknowledges Covishield Vaccine’s Potential Side Effects
  2. IITM Study Shows Tenfold Increase in Marine Heatwaves, Heightening Cyclone Intensity
  3. India’s Food Inflation Remains High Despite Global Price Drops
  4. Bombay High Court: PSBs Cannot Request Look Out Circulars for Loan Defaulters
  5. CISF Personnel Replace Delhi Police for Parliament Security
  6. IRDAI Proposes Rs 1,500 Price Tag for Bima Vistaar Insurance
  7. Muria Tribe


AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of the Covishield vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic, has admitted that the inoculation carries potential side effects. This admission was made in a legal document presented before the High Court of Justice in London. The document conveys that the Covid vaccine can, in extremely rare cases, induce Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS).


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. AstraZeneca’s Position on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS)
  2. Covishield: An Overview
  3. Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS)

AstraZeneca’s Position on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS)

  • AstraZeneca’s statements regarding Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) were made in court documents filed in the United Kingdom in response to a lawsuit against the company. Here’s a summary of their remarks:
    • AstraZeneca is facing legal action over health claims related to the vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
    • In the court documents, AstraZeneca denied that TTS is caused by the vaccine on a broad scale.
    • However, the company acknowledged the possibility of TTS occurring as a result of its vaccination, albeit in “very rare cases.”

Covishield: An Overview

Development and Production

  • Developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
  • In India, marketed under the brand name Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune.

Administration in India

  • Vaccination commenced in India on January 16, 2021.
  • Notable observations:
    • Indian government issued a caution regarding its administration in individuals with thrombocytopenia.
    • Thromboembolic events reported at a rate of 0.61 cases per million doses.
    • Covishield continues to have a positive benefit-risk profile according to the Union Health Ministry.

International Concerns and WHO Observations

  • European countries temporarily paused the use of AstraZeneca vaccine due to reported cases of blood clotting.
  • World Health Organization (WHO) noted cases of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) post-Covishield vaccinations.
  • WHO stated that while TTS risk with Covishield vaccines appears low based on available data.

Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS)

Definition and Characteristics

  • Rare condition characterized by blood clot formation (thrombosis) and low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia).
  • Associated with certain COVID-19 vaccines, particularly those using adenovirus vectors like Covishield.
    • Adenovirus vectors are non-enveloped, double-stranded DNA Virus that are commonly used for gene therapy, vaccination, and cancer gene therapy. 
    • They are considered the most efficient gene delivery vehicles due to their safety profile and expression.

Mechanism and Hypotheses

  • Mechanism not fully understood but hypothesized to involve vaccine-triggered immune response leading to platelet activation and clot formation.
  • Resembles autoimmune heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, involving heparin-triggered immune response.

Symptoms and Complications

  • Symptoms include breathlessness, chest or limb pain, skin bruising beyond the injection site, headaches, numbness, etc.
  • Complications depend on clot location, including stroke, heart attack, and respiratory issues.

Risk Factors

  • Factors predisposing individuals to TTS include age, gender (more common in younger women), and potentially genetic factors.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu


A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune has revealed a significant surge in marine heatwaves, potentially leading to intensified cyclones. The study indicates a staggering tenfold increase in marine heatwave duration, escalating from 20 days to 220–250 days per year.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the Report
  2. Marine Heatwave

Key Findings of the Report:

Temperature Rise in the Indian Ocean:

  • Indian Ocean temperature rose by 1.2°C from 1950 to 2020.
  • Projected increase by 1.7°C to 3.8°C from 2020 to 2100.

Increase in Marine Heatwave Days:

  • Predicted rise from 20 days/year to 220–250 days/year.
  • Linked to quicker cyclone formation and potential permanent heatwave state.

Impacts on Marine Ecosystems:

  • Likely acceleration of coral bleaching, seagrass destruction, and loss of kelp forests.
  • Significant implications for the fisheries sector.

Escalation of Overall Heat Content:

  • Increase extends to depths of 2,000 meters.
  • Currently increasing at 4.5 zetta-joules per decade.
  • Expected to grow at 16–22 zetta-joules per decade.

Sea-Level Rise and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD):

  • Thermal expansion contributes over half of the sea-level rise.
  • IOD likely to experience increased extreme events and decreased moderate events.
  • Positive phases of IOD favor the summer monsoon.

Monsoon Prediction for 2024:

  • Despite ongoing heatwaves, “above-normal” monsoon expected for June-September 2024 due in part to positive IOD phase.
Impact of Rising Sea Levels on India:

Sea Level Rise Trends:

  • Sea level along the Indian coast rising at about 1.7 mm/year during 1900-2000.
  • 3 cm rise could intrude the sea inland by about 17 meters.

Vulnerability of India:

  • Most vulnerable to compounding impacts of sea level rise.
  • Indian Ocean warming contributes significantly to sea level rise.
  • Indian Ocean fastest-warming ocean in terms of surface warming.

Compound Extreme Events and Cyclones:

  • Cyclones intensifying rapidly due to ocean warming.
  • Increased flooding due to compounding sea level rise and storm surges.
  • Cyclones bringing more rain than before.
  • Example: Super Cyclone Amphan (2020) causing extensive flooding and saline water intrusion.

Long-term Implications:

  • Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra rivers may shrink.
  • Rising sea levels combined with saltwater intrusion making parts of deltas uninhabitable.

Marine Heatwave:

  • Marine heatwaves are prolonged periods of abnormally high Sea Surface Temperature (SST).
  • These events can lead to coral bleaching, seagrass destruction, and loss of kelp forests, impacting the fisheries sector negatively.
  • Common drivers of marine heatwaves include ocean currents that accumulate warm water and air-sea heat flux, which is warming from the atmosphere through the ocean surface.
  • Winds can amplify or dampen the warming effects of a marine heatwave, and climate modes like El Niño can influence the occurrence of these events in specific regions.

Impact of Marine Heatwave on Rainfall in Northwest India:

  • The marine heatwave in the Bay of Bengal elevated sea surface temperatures, resulting in increased evaporation rates and a higher supply of moisture in the atmosphere.
  • This surplus moisture contributed to above-average rainfall in northwest India.
  • The marine heatwave likely influenced the formation and behavior of low-pressure systems called depressions in the Bay of Bengal.
  • These depressions play a significant role in monsoon and rainfall patterns.
  • The marine heatwave, along with changing timescales of depressions, affected the path and trajectory of these weather systems.
  • Depressions were more inclined to move towards northwest India rather than north-central India, leading to a concentration of rainfall in the northwest region and resulting in above-average rainfall in that area.

Impacts of Marine Heatwaves:

  • Ecosystem Structure: Marine heatwaves can alter ecosystem structure by favoring certain species while suppressing others.
  • Mass Mortality: Marine heatwaves have been associated with mass mortality events in marine invertebrates, leading to significant ecological disruptions.
  • Behavioral Changes: Species may be forced to change their behavior in response to marine heatwaves, putting them at increased risk of harm.
  • Habitat Range Shifts: Marine heatwaves can cause shifts in the habitat ranges of species, resulting in changes to ecosystem dynamics. For example, the expansion of spiny sea urchins into new areas can negatively impact kelp forests.
  • Economic Losses: Marine heatwaves can have significant economic impacts, particularly on fisheries and aquaculture industries.
  • Biodiversity Loss: Marine heatwaves can lead to drastic declines in biodiversity, affecting the overall health and functioning of marine ecosystems.
  • Corals and Bleaching: Marine heatwaves can cause widespread coral bleaching, leading to coral mortality and ecosystem degradation.
  • Interaction with Other Stressors: Marine heatwaves often occur alongside other stressors such as ocean acidification, deoxygenation, and overfishing. These combined stressors can further damage habitats and increase the risks of deoxygenation and acidification in affected areas.

-Source: The Hindu


In 2023, while world food prices experienced a significant decrease from their 2022 highs, India’s food inflation remained stubbornly high at 9.5% in December 2023. This contrasts starkly with the global trend of deflation, which stood at -10.1%. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food price index averaged 143.7 points in 2022 but plummeted to 124 points in 2023, marking a substantial decline of 13.7%.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Factors Contributing to the Drop in Global Food Prices
  2. Reasons for High Food Inflation in India Despite Falling Global Prices
  3. Calculation of Food Inflation in India
  4. Strategies to Address Food Inflation Effectively

Factors Contributing to the Drop in Global Food Prices:

  • Bumper Harvests: Abundant harvests of major crops, such as wheat, in 2023 led to a surplus in the global market, easing supply concerns.
  • Continued Exports from Ukraine and Russia: Despite initial worries about supply disruptions due to the war in Ukraine, both Ukraine and Russia have managed to maintain wheat exports, alleviating supply anxieties.
  • Improved Vegetable Oil Supplies: The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization Vegetable Price Index saw a significant drop in 2023, attributed to improved vegetable oil supplies and reduced use for biofuel production.
  • Decreased Consumer Demand: High inflation and economic recession fears have dampened consumer demand in many regions, reducing import demand for certain food commodities and exerting downward pressure on global prices.

Reasons for High Food Inflation in India Despite Falling Global Prices:

  • Limited Transmission of International Prices: India’s food prices remained elevated due to limited transmission of falling global prices to domestic markets.
  • Import Dependence: While India is largely self-sufficient in most agri-commodities, it depends significantly on imports for edible oils (60% of consumption) and pulses.
  • Government Interventions: The Indian government imposed bans on exports of certain food items and provided import duty waivers on others, reducing global market influences on domestic prices.
  • Weather Conditions: Weather-related factors affecting crop yields, particularly for cereals, pulses, and sugar, contributed to supply shortages and higher prices domestically.
  • Low Stock Levels: Low stock levels for commodities like wheat and sugar further exacerbated price pressures, contributing to high food inflation in India despite falling global prices.

Calculation of Food Inflation in India:

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Food and Beverages: Food inflation in India is primarily measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Food and Beverages. CPI tracks changes in the prices paid by typical consumers for a basket of goods and services over time.
  • Weightage in CPI: Food has a weight of 45.9% in the consumer price index. However, its contribution to overall inflation has increased significantly, from 48% in April 2022 to 67% in November 2023.
  • Household Consumption Survey: The government’s Household Consumption Survey revealed that food’s share of the rural consumption basket fell below 50% for the first time to 46% and to 39% for urban consumers.
  • Factors Influencing Food Inflation: About 90% of food inflation is determined by non-cyclical factors such as weather conditions, supply conditions, international prices, and availability. However, demand factors also play a role, contributing to about 10% of food inflation with significant time variation.

Strategies to Address Food Inflation Effectively:

  • Investment in Agricultural Infrastructure and Technology: Improving agricultural infrastructure, adopting advanced technology, and investing in research can enhance crop yields and reduce production costs, boosting supply and stabilizing prices.
  • Enhancing Logistics and Storage Facilities: Improving logistics, storage facilities, and distribution networks can reduce wastage and ensure a steady supply of food items to the market, mitigating price fluctuations.
  • Promoting Crop Diversification: Encouraging the cultivation of a variety of crops and supporting alternative farming practices can reduce reliance on a few commodities, thereby balancing market dynamics and reducing price volatility.
  • Regular Monitoring and Price Regulation: Regular monitoring of food prices and implementing effective price regulation mechanisms can prevent price manipulation and ensure fair pricing for consumers and producers.
  • Addressing Climate Change Challenges: Implementing sustainable farming practices, efficient water management strategies, and promoting crop diversification can help mitigate the impact of climate change on agriculture, reducing production risks and enhancing long-term food security.

-Source: Indian Express


In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has declared that public sector banks (PSBs) are not permitted to request Look Out Circulars (LOCs) against loan defaulters. The court invalidated the central government’s Office Memoranda (OM) that authorized PSBs to issue LOCs, asserting that such actions violate fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Reasons for High Court Ruling Against Banks Restricting Debtors’ Travel
  2. Implications of the Verdict
  3. Legal Rights of Defaulters

Reasons for High Court Ruling Against Banks Restricting Debtors’ Travel:

  • Legal Framework of LOCs: LOCs, issued by the Bureau of Immigration of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), were used to prevent individuals from travelling abroad if their departure was deemed harmful to the country’s “economic interest”.
  • Amendments to Office Memoranda (OM): Amendments introduced in September 2018 allowed PSB officials to request immigration authorities to issue LOCs against default borrowers, including borrowers, guarantors, and directors of corporate entities in debt.
  • Petitioners’ Arguments: Petitioners contended that the OMs violated fundamental rights, including the right to life with dignity under Article 21. They argued against the government’s classification between public and private banks, asserting that the “economic interest of India” cannot equate to the “financial interests” of a PSB.
  • Government’s Defense: The MHA argued that the circulars contained necessary “checks and balances” for deprivation of life or personal liberty, meeting legal requirements.
  • Court’s Ruling: Referring to previous cases, the court noted the failure of the government to prove debt recovery through the denial of travel permission. It criticized the use of LOCs as a means to bypass legal proceedings, emphasizing that the right to travel abroad cannot be curtailed by executive action without a government statute.
  • Concerns Raised by the Court: The court expressed concern over PSBs being granted unilateral power in debt recovery, effectively acting as judge and executioner. It found the elevation of bank officials to the same status as high-ranking police officers incomprehensible and dismissed the differentiation between PSB and private bank borrowers as arbitrary under Article 14.

Implications of the Verdict:

  • Existing Restraint Orders: The ruling does not impact existing restraint orders issued by competent authorities.
  • Limitation on Look Out Circulars (LOCs): Banks cannot request the issuance of LOCs from the central government but can still seek court orders or utilize provisions under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, for loan recovery.
  • Future Legislation: The judgement does not prevent the central government from enacting laws consistent with Article 21 of the Constitution.

Legal Rights of Defaulters:

  • Guidelines from RBI: The RBI directed banks and finance companies to consider compromise settlements or technical write-offs for accounts categorized as wilful defaulters or fraud.
  • Protection for Wilful Offenders: Wilful offenders or companies involved in fraud will no longer face prejudice from lenders due to ongoing criminal proceedings.
  • Cooling Period for Fresh Loans: Borrowers who have settled their debts can apply for fresh loans after a minimum cooling period of 12 months, with regulated institutions having the flexibility to stipulate longer cooling periods.
  • Legal Rights: Defaulters in India have legal rights, including the right to receive notices, fair debt collection practices, avenues for grievance redressal, access to legal assistance, and fair credit reporting.

-Source: Indian Express


Following a security breach in December 2023, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) has taken over the security of the Parliament complex. The CISF personnel have replaced the 150 personnel of the Delhi Police, which included 54 women personnel, who were previously deployed for Parliament security.


GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background on Security Breach at New Parliament Building
  2. Overview of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
  3. Overview of Existing Security System in Parliament

Background on Security Breach at New Parliament Building

Inauguration and Incident

  • The new Parliament building was inaugurated on May 28, 2023, marking its first official use.
  • On December 13, 2023, two individuals carrying colour spraying canisters breached security protocols by entering the Lok Sabha chamber during Zero Hour from the visitors’ gallery.
  • The intrusion was reportedly a protest against rising unemployment, ethnic violence in Manipur, and farmers’ issues.
  • Six individuals were subsequently arrested and booked under various sections, including terror charges. The police are yet to file a chargesheet in the case.

Security Measures

  • Following the breach, eight Delhi Police security personnel responsible for frisking and baggage scanning were suspended.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) subsequently tasked the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) with conducting a survey of the Parliament premises for regular deployment.

Overview of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

Establishment and Purpose

  • CISF was established in 1969 under the “Central Industrial Security Force Act, 1968,” initially to provide security cover to sensitive public sector undertakings.
  • It has evolved into a premier multi-skilled organization with a current strength of 1,63,590 personnel.


  • CISF operates under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, with its headquarters located in New Delhi.
Operations and Mandate

Security Coverage

  • CISF provides security cover to 353 establishments across the country, including Atomic Power Plants, Space Installations, Defence Production Units, Mines, Oil Fields, and Refineries.

VIP Protection

  • It is mandated to provide protection to VIP protectees of Z+, Z, Y, and X category across the country.

Airport Security

  • CISF was assigned the task of airport security in 2000, following the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 to Kandahar.

Private Sector Security

  • The CISF Act was amended to allow the force to provide security, on payment basis, to private and joint venture industrial undertakings vital for the security and economy of the country.
    • E.g. – The Infosys campuses in Mysuru, Bengaluru and Pune, the Patanjali Food and Herbal Park in Haridwar and the Reliance refinery in Gujarat’s Jamnagar

International Deployments

  • CISF contingents have been deployed at the United Nations Stabilizations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Public Interface

  • CISF is the only Central Armed Police Force with a daily public interface, providing security services in airports, Delhi Metro, and iconic monuments.

Overview of Existing Security System in Parliament

Access Control

  • Currently, access control measures, including frisking and baggage scanning, are overseen by the Delhi Police.
  • In response to the security breach incident, eight Delhi Police security personnel responsible for frisking and baggage scanning were suspended.

Armed Intervention

  • The Parliament Duty Group (PDG), an armed component of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), is deployed to handle situations requiring armed intervention.

Overall Security Management

  • The Parliament Security Service, under the authority of the Lok Sabha Speaker, serves as the overall in-charge of security within the Parliament premises.

-Source: The Hindu


The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has recently proposed pricing its ambitious all-in-one affordable insurance mass product, Bima Vistaar, at Rs 1,500 per policy. Targeted at rural areas across the country, this proposal aims to make insurance accessible and affordable for rural communities.


GS III: Growth and Development

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bima Vistaar: An Overview
  2. About Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India


Bima Vistaar: An Overview

  • Part of the Bima Trinity, Bima Vistaar introduces an innovative, all-in-one affordable insurance product covering life, health, and property.
  • Designed to offer a basic social safety net with combined features of life, health, personal accident, and property insurance.
Key Features
  • Life cover premium: Rs 820
  • Health cover: Rs 500
  • Personal accident cover: Rs 100
  • Property cover: Rs 80
  • Family floater policy: Rs 2,420, with an additional Rs 900 for other family members.
  • Sum assured for life, personal accident, and property covers: Rs 2 lakh each.
  • Health cover (hospital cash): Rs 500 for 10 days, with a maximum of Rs 5,000 available without producing bills or documents.
  • Agents receive a commission of 10%, encouraging wider distribution.
Benefits for Broader Insurance Landscape in India
  • Expected to provide reliable insurance at a reasonable cost, promoting financial inclusion.
  • Safeguards individuals and families against various risks and uncertainties.
  • A mass product aimed at increasing insurance penetration, anticipated to generate significant sales volume.
Future Prospects
  • IRDAI, along with the General Insurance Council (GIC) and Life Insurance Council (LIC), aims to establish a “Bima Trinity” comprising Bima Sugam (digital platform), Bima Vistaar (product), and Bima Vahak (women-centric distribution channel).
  • Competitive pricing and comprehensive coverage position Bima Vistaar as a viable and sustainable insurance solution in the long run.

About Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India:

  • Establishment: IRDAI was founded in 1999 as a regulatory body to safeguard the interests of insurance customers.
  • Statutory Body: It operates as a statutory body under the IRDA Act 1999 and falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance.
  • Regulatory and Development Authority: IRDAI is responsible for regulating and fostering the development of the insurance industry in India.
  • Monitoring Activities: The authority closely monitors insurance-related activities to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
  • Legal Framework: The powers and functions of IRDAI are defined by the IRDAI Act, 1999 and the Insurance Act, 1938.

-Source: Indian Express


Residing in border areas between Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Chhattisgarh, possessing voter cards from both states. One card for voting, the other for proving nativity.


Facts for Prelims

About Muria Tribe

Settlement and Context

  • Located within ‘India’s Red Corridor’ on the AP-Chhattisgarh border, affected by Naxalism.
  • Settlement stands as an oasis within a reserved forest, protected by stringent laws against settlement and deforestation.

Status as Internally Displaced People (IDPs)

  • Muria settlements house around 6,600 IDPs in AP.
  • Referred to as ‘Gutti Koyas’ by native tribes.

Conflict and Displacement

  • Displaced during conflicts between Maoists and Salwa Judum.
  • Salwa Judum mobilized tribal resistance against outlawed armed Naxalites, reportedly with government support in Chhattisgarh.

Cultural and Ethnic Identity

  • Muria are indigenous Adivasi, scheduled tribe Dravidian community in Bastar district, Chhattisgarh.
  • Part of the Gondi people, speaking Koya, a Dravidian language.
  • Embrace progressive perspectives on marriage and life.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024