Revision Notes or Short Notes 

Havana Syndrome

What is Havana Syndrome?

  • Set of mental health symptoms experienced by US officials abroad.
  • First reported in Havana, Cuba (2016) by diplomats experiencing:
    • Hearing piercing sounds at night.
    • Other symptoms: bloody noses, headaches, vision problems.
  • Similar cases reported in China, Europe, with possible earlier cases in Germany (2014).

Possible Causes:

  • Initial suspicion: “sonic attack” by Cuba (US-Cuba hostility).
  • Later theories: high-powered microwaves targeting nervous system.
    • Microwave weapons research documented during the Cold War.

Affected Areas:

  • Over 130 cases reported by US officials globally:
    • Russia, Poland, Georgia, Taiwan, Colombia, Central Asia, Austria.
  • First case in India (2021): US intelligence officer with CIA Director Burns.

Recent Investigation

  • Year-long investigation suggests link to Russia’s GRU Unit 29155:
    • Unit responsible for foreign operations (e.g., Skripal poisoning, 2018).
    • Allegedly used “directed energy weapons” causing Havana Syndrome.

Russia’s Response

  • Denies allegations, calls them “groundless” and “unfounded accusations.”
  • No conclusive evidence publicly available.


Ozone Detected on Jupiter’s Moon Callisto

Study Findings

  • Researchers discovered evidence of ozone on Jupiter’s moon Callisto.
  • Studied the chemical evolution of “SO2 astrochemical ice” (ice rich in sulfur dioxide) under ultraviolet irradiation.
  • Analyzed UV absorption spectra of irradiated ice samples, identifying a signature of ozone formation.
  • Callisto’s stable surface may preserve potential subsurface oceans or habitats.

Callisto: A Unique Environment

  • Jupiter’s largest moon (third-largest in the solar system).
  • Primarily composed of water ice, rock, sulfur dioxide, and organic compounds.
  • Heavily cratered surface suggests a long history of impacts.
  • Considered a potential candidate for extraterrestrial life due to its composition.

Significance of the Study

  • Ozone presence suggests oxygen, a building block for complex molecules like amino acids, essential for life.
  • Raises questions about Callisto’s habitability and potential life elsewhere in the solar system.

Importance of Ozone

  • Ozone molecule (3 oxygen atoms) acts as a shield in Earth’s stratosphere (15-35 km above ground).
  • Protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, especially UV-B and UV-C.
  • UV radiation can damage DNA, increase skin cancer risk, and harm ecosystems.


  • This discovery adds Callisto to the list of celestial bodies with potential for life due to the presence of ozone and stable conditions.


Swell Waves (Kallakkadal)

  • Local Term:Kallakkadal (accepted by UNESCO in 2012)
  • Description:Freaky flooding episodes caused by distant storm-generated waves.
  • Formation:
    • Ocean waves outrun the storm that created them.
    • Travel long distances, lengthening and reducing in height.
    • Organize into smooth, regular groups.
    • Travel thousands of miles with minimal change in height or period.
    • Longer waves travel faster.


Status of Leopards in India 2022

Survey & Background

  • Conducted by National Tiger Conservation Authority & Wildlife Institute of India.
  • 5th cycle of leopard population estimation.
  • Covered 20 states and 70% of leopard habitat.

Key Findings

  • Overall Increase:India’s leopard population rose 8% to 13,874 in 2022 (from 12,852 in 2018).
  • Regional Variations:
    • Central India & Eastern Ghats: Stable/slightly growing population (8,820 in 2022).
    • Shivalik Hills & Gangetic Plains: Decline at 3.4% per year (1,109 in 2022).
  • State-wise Distribution:
    • Madhya Pradesh has the highest number (3,907).
    • Declines reported in Odisha, Uttarakhand, Kerala, and others.
  • Protected Areas:
    • 65% of leopards reside outside protected areas (Shivalik landscape).
    • Leopard densities are higher inside Tiger Reserves despite competition with tigers.


  • Poaching of prey (bushmeat) and leopards themselves.
  • Habitat loss due to mining and human activities.
  • Road accidents.

Additional Notes

  • Odisha reported 59 leopard skin seizures (2018-2023).


Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Initiative (20 Years)

  • Launched:April 1, 2004 (Free ART for People Living with HIV – PLHIV)
  • Purpose:Treat HIV infection by suppressing virus replication with a combination of drugs (HAART).
  • Rationale:Address early fear, stigma, and limited access to expensive treatments.
  • Impact:
    • Reduced HIV prevalence in 15-49 year olds to 0.20% (2023).
    • Lowered India’s PLHIV share globally to 6.3% (from 10% in 2004).
    • Decreased annual new HIV infections in India by 48% (vs global 31%).

Other Related Initiatives for HIV Control

  • Free diagnostic facilities.
  • Prevention of parent-to-child transmission (PPTCT) services.
  • Introduction of Dolutegravir (DTG) – a new, effective drug with minimal side effects (2020).
  • Rapid ART initiation policy (2021): Starting ART within 7 days (or same day) of diagnosis.
  • National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) Phase 5 Goals (by 2025):
    • Reduce annual new HIV infections by 80%.
    • Reduce AIDS-related mortalities by 80%.
    • Eliminate vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis.


SCORES 2.0 (Securities and Exchange Board of India)

  • Upgraded Version of SCORES (SEBI Complaint Redressal System):Launched June 2011 (online platform for investor complaints).
  • Improvements in SCORES 2.0:
    • Auto-routing and escalation of complaints.
    • Monitoring by designated bodies.
    • Reduced complaint resolution timelines.
    • Two-level review process:
      • First review by designated body.
      • Second review by SEBI (if unsatisfied with first review).

About SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India)

  • Established:April 12, 1992 (Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992).
  • Function:Protect investor interests in the securities market.
  • Powers:Quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial.
    • Draft regulations.
    • Conduct inquiries.
    • Pass rulings.
    • Impose penalties.
  • Regulatory Reach Expanded (2014):
    • Regulate money pooling schemes worth Rs. 100 crore or more.
    • Attach assets in cases of non-compliance.


Cyber Slavery

  • Definition:Exploitation of individuals through digital means for forced labor or human trafficking.
  • Characteristics:
    • Coercion, manipulation, or deception of victims.
    • Performing tasks against their will for someone else’s benefit.
    • Organized crime with high severity and scale.


Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)

  • Introduced:2014 Lok Sabha elections.
  • Function:Ballot-less vote verification system connected to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
  • Process:
    • Voter casts vote on EVM.
    • VVPAT generates paper slip with voted party’s name and symbol.
    • Voter verifies slip through transparent window.
    • Slip is deposited in a sealed box within the machine.
  • Purpose:Increase public confidence in EVMs by providing a physical record of votes.

Supreme Court Ban on Unregulated Soil Extraction

  • Context:Recent court ruling against unregulated soil extraction for linear projects (roads, pipelines).
  • Controversial Exemption:
    • March 2020 notification exempted “ordinary earth” extraction from environmental clearance (EC).
    • Challenged by National Green Tribunal (NGT) due to lack of public consultation.
  • Supreme Court’s Decision:
    • Struck down the exemption as “blanket,” “arbitrary,” and issued in haste.
    • Requires all earth extraction for linear projects to obtain EC, minimizing environmental harm.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

  • Establishment:2010 (National Green Tribunal Act).
  • Purpose:Adjudicate environmental cases in India.
  • Powers:
    • Suo motu powers to take up environmental issues.
    • Not bound by Civil Procedure Code (1908) but by natural justice principles.
    • Binding orders with power to grant compensation and damages.
    • Review its own decisions (appealable to Supreme Court within 90 days).

Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (125 Years)

  • Location:Palani Hills, Tamil Nadu, India.
  • Significance:Observing the Sun for over a century, providing long-term solar data.
  • Key Achievements:
    • Discovery of helium (second-most abundant element) during 1868 solar eclipse observations.
  • Daily collection of full-disc spectral images of the Sun (Ca II K and H-alpha lines) for over 100 years.
  • Massive digital repository with 1.48 lakh digitized solar images (10 terabytes).
  • Contribution to understanding solar magnetic field evolution and its impact on climate and space weather.
  • Link to Great Drought (1875-1877):Studied possible solar activity role in the devastating drought.


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