(GS-II: Issues related to health)
Nearly four years ago a mysterious neurological illness, referred to as “Havana syndrome”, started to afflict American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Cuba, China, and other countries.
Now, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.
What is the ‘Havana syndrome’?
In late 2016, US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.
The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.
What causes the ‘Havana syndrome’?
Directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.
The immediate symptoms that patients reported including sensations of pain and buzzing sound apparently emanated from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room.
How is Minimum selling price for sugar decided?
(GS-III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices)
The Union government has increased the minimum price that sugar mills must pay to sugar cane farmers by ₹5 a quintal, setting the fair and remunerative price (FRP) at ₹290 a quintal for the 2021-22 sugar season, which runs from October to September.
Despite demands from sugar mills, however, the Centre refused to hike the minimum price at which they can sell the processed sugar, citing consumer interests.
Significance of the decision:
The decision will benefit five crore sugar cane farmers and their dependents as well as five lakh workers employed by sugar mills and related industries.
Sugar Pricing Policy:
Prices of sugar are market driven & depend on demand & supply of sugar. However, with a view to protect the interests of farmers, the concept of Minimum Selling Price (MSP) of sugar was introduced in 2018 so that industry may get at least the minimum cost of production of sugar, so as to enable them to clear cane price dues of farmers.
In exercise of the powers conferred under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Government has notified Sugar Price (Control) Order, 2018.
Under the provisions of said order, the Government will fix the Minimum Selling Price (MSP).
MSP of sugar has been fixed taking into account the components of Fair & Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane and minimum conversion cost of the most efficient mills.
Also, please note that the State Advised Prices (SAP) are announced by key sugarcane producing states which are generally higher than FRP.
Fair and remunerative price (FRP) is the minimum price at which rate sugarcane is to be purchased by sugar mills from farmers.
The Federal/Central Government announces Fair and Remunerative Prices which are determined on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and are announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.
(GS-III: Conservation related issues)
The Ministry of Jal Shakti has begun (From 25th August) ‘SUJALAM’, a ‘100 days campaign’ as part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
About the campaign:
The objective is to create more and more ODF Plus villages by undertaking waste water management at village level.
This is done particularly through creation of 1 million Soak-pits and also other Grey water management activities.
The key activities that will be organised in the villages under this campaign include:
Organizing Community consultations, Khuli Baithaks and Gram Sabha meetings to analyze the current situation.
Pass resolution to maintain ODF sustainability and achieve needed number of soak pits to manage the grey water.
Develop a 100 days’ plan to undertake sustainability and soak pit construction related activities.
Construct requisite number of soak pits.
Retrofit toilets where needed through IEC and community mobilization.
Ensure all newly emerging Households in the village have access to toilets.
The campaign will not only build desired infrastructure i.e. soak pit for management of greywater in villages but will also aid in sustainable management of waterbodies.
The campaign would boost the momentum of Swacch Bharat Mission- Grameen phase II activities through community participation.
The disposal of waste water and clogging of waterbodies in the villages or on the outskirts of the villages remain one of the major problems. The Campaign would help in management of the wastewater and in turn would help to revive the waterbodies.
What is ODF tag?
The original ODF protocol, issued in March 2016, said, “A city/ward is notified as ODF city/ward if, at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating in the open.”
What is ODF+, ODF++?
ODF+ and ODF++ were launched in August 2018 to further scale up and sustain the work undertaken by the cities after achieving the ODF status under Phase I of the Swachh Bharat Mission — Urban (SBM-Urban).
Eligibility: Cities that had been certified ODF at least once, on the basis of the ODF protocols, are eligible to declare themselves as SBM-ODF+ & SBM-ODF++.
What is ODF+?
A city, ward or work circle could be declared ODF+ if, “at any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well-maintained.”
What is ODF++?
The ODF++ protocol adds the condition that “faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.”
What is an electronic visa (e-visa)?
(GS-II: India and its neighbourhood- relations)
India has decided to “invalidate” or cancel all visas issued to Afghan nationals, including about 2,000 issued in the last few months, as the Taliban began to make advances across the country.
Now, all Afghans must enter India now only on special e-visas applied online.
The government was concerned that passports deposited by Afghan nationals for visas, which were being stored at the Indian Embassy and the Indian visa centre in Kabul, could get into the hands of anti-India terror groups. As a result, the Home Ministry decided to cancel them.
What is an e- visa?
The e-visa system is an innovation introduced by the government in 2014. The facility was expanded in 2017-2018.
The process has its roots in the 2010 Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) scheme for Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.
The government merged the TVOA with Electronic Travel Authorisation, thereby creating the e-visa.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry that issues visas to foreigners.
An e-visa also called Electronic Visa is provided in five categories—tourist, business, conference, medical, and medical attendant.
The facility is not available for the citizens of Pakistan and they are expected to apply for regular visas from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
E-visas are not valid for foreign diplomats which are dealt separately.