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Havana Syndrome

  • 26 Nov 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said that dealing with the issue of Havana Syndrome is a top priority and that it will keep investigating the cause and how to protect staff.

Key Points

  • About:
    • In late 2016, a few diplomats from the USA and their employees had reported certain usual symptoms during their stay in Havana, Cuba.
    • They experienced some odd physical sensations and heard peculiar sounds, after which they started feeling sick.
    • The US had even accused Cuba of carrying out sonic attacks. But Cuba denied the accusations of the sonic attacks and refused awareness of any such illness or syndrome.
    • Ever since many bodies and institutions have been researching the cause of the Havana syndrome and many plausible factors have been discovered till date.
    • The symptoms of the syndrome include Nausea, Severe headaches, Fatigue, Dizziness, Sleep problems, Hearing loss.
      • A few of those who had been affected more faced chronic issues like vestibular processing and cognitive problems.
    • In 2020, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS), US found directed microwave radiation to be the plausible cause of the Havana syndrome.
  • Microwave Weapons:
    • Direct Energy Weapon (DEW):
      • They are a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
      • They release electromagnetic radiation which causes sensations in the human body.
        • Electromagnetic radiation heating the water in the human body makes a person feel dizziness and nausea.
    • Countries with Microwave Weapons:
      • A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.
      • China had first put on display its microwave weapon, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
      • The US has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”, which is the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel system with an extended range greater than currently fielded non-lethal weapons.
    • India’s Plans for Directed Energy Weapons:
      • Recently, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has announced its plans to develop (DEWs) using high-energy lasers and microwaves.
      • Development of DEWs is seen as particularly important in the context of India’s worsening security environment, especially its ties with China.
    • Concerns:
      • These weapons are a cause of concern as they can affect both machines and human beings.
      • They can cause long-term damages without leaving a single mark on the human body.


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