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Monthly DNA

14 Jan, 2023

24 Min Read

Largest Rare Earth Elements Deposit in Europe

GS-I : Indian Geography Minerals

Largest Rare Earth Elements Deposit in Europe

More than a million tonnes of rare earth oxides have recently been found in Northern Sweden by the state-owned mining corporation LKAB.

About the discovery:

  • Deposits of rare earth elements have been found near Kiruna, Sweden, in the Arctic.
  • Europe doesn't mine any rare earth elements (REE), and instead largely imports them from other places.
  • China supplied 98 percent of the rare earths that the European Union consumed.
  • This finding supports Europe's goal of reducing its reliance on imported raw resources for the green transition.
  • Since rare earths are not currently mined in Europe, it imports them primarily from other continents.
  • The discovery may also represent a turning point for the EU and other western nations that have been working to lessen their reliance on China as a source of imports for rare earth metals.

What is rare earth mineral ?

  • A group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table are known as rare earth elements or rare earth metals.
  • The 15 lanthanides as well as scandium and yttrium, which frequently occur in lanthanide-bearing ore deposits and have related chemical features, are all elements with comparable chemical compositions.
  • Promethium, one of the rare earths, emits radiation.
  • The extraction of REE is the most difficult part, despite the fact that they are fairly dispersed throughout many geographies, due to sophisticated processing and significant environmental effects.


  • Drones, jet engine turbines, and space shuttle components all make use of rare earth elements.
  • The NASA Space Shuttle Program depends on cerium, the most plentiful rare earth element.
  • Renewable energy equipment too depend upon rare earth metals.
  • A effort to replace internal combustion engines with electric motors has increased demand for batteries and rare earth magnets comprised of neodymium, boron, and iron.
  • China's monopoly on rare earth has grown over time; at one point, China produced 90% of the rare earth the world required.
  • However, it is now just 60%, and the rest is produced by other nations, such as the Quad (Australia, India, Japan and United States).
  • Production facilities have emerged in Australia since China restricted the export of rare earth to the US, Europe, and Japan in 2010.
  • However, China holds the major share of the processed Rare Earths market.

A major concern for India:

  • India has over 6% of the world's reserves but only contributes 1% to global production.
  • India has access to several REEs, including lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, praseodymium, and samarium, among others. Others, like dysprosium, terbium, and europium, are not present in extractable amounts in Indian deposits.
  • India has a bold aim to switch a sizable portion of its transportation to electricity, which calls for the requirement of these minerals.
  • India will have to rely on imports from other nations, notably China if it cannot explore and develop these minerals.


  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) conducts mapping and exploration activities across the nation for a variety of mineral commodities, including Rare Earth Elements (REE) and Rare Metals (RM), in future more research and exploration have to be conducted by the GSI
  • For the purpose of REE exploration, India established Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) and even negotiated partnerships with other countries, such as the Australia-India Critical Minerals Investment Partnership.

Source: The Indian Express

Supreme Court Extends the Goals of Article 19

GS-II : Indian Polity Fundamental rights

Supreme Court Extends the Goals of Article 19

Recently the Supreme Court ruled, that a citizen can seek enforcement of the fundamental right to freedom of speech not just against the state but also extended the ground for seeking these rights against other citizens.

  • A fundamental right under Article 19 or 21 can be enforced even against persons other than the State or its instrumentalities,” said the 4-1 majority ruling by the Constitution Bench.
  • The court adopted this stance when declaring that the freedom of speech and expression protected by Article 19(1)(a) cannot be restricted for any reasons beyond those already stated in Article 19. (2).
  • The court, extending free speech against private citizens, opens up a range of possibilities in Constitutional law.

Rights Enforcement Against Private Entities:

  • According to this understanding, the state has a responsibility to make sure that private organizations adhere to constitutional standards as well.
  • In terms of constitutional law, it opens up a wide variety of possibilities, including enabling the enforcement of privacy rights against a private doctor or the right to free expression against a private social media company.
  • The Court also referred to several foreign jurisdictions, contrasting the American approach with the European Courts.
  • Referring to the landmark New York Times vs. Sullivan, in which the US Supreme Court found that defamation law, as applied by the state against The New York Times, was inconsistent with the Constitutional guarantee of the freedom of speech and expression, the SC noted a shift in US law from a “purely vertical approach” to a “horizontal approach.”
  • Note :(A vertical application of rights would mean it can be enforced only against the state while a horizontal approach would mean it is enforceable against other citizens.)
  • For example, a horizontal application of the right to life would enable a citizen to bring a case against a private entity for causing pollution, which would be a violation of the right to a clean environment.
  • “No jurisdiction in the world appears to be adopting, at least as of date, a purely vertical approach or a wholly horizontal approach.
  • A vertical approach provides weightage to individual autonomy, choice and privacy, while the horizontal approach seeks to imbibe constitutional values in all individuals.
  • These approaches which appear to be bipolar opposites, raise the age-old question of ‘individual vs. society’,” the Court said.

Earlier court rulings regarding Article 19:

  • The Court cited the Puttaswamy decision from 2017, in which a nine-judge bench unanimously established privacy as a basic right.

Article 19: What is it?

  • The right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, and it is frequently used to challenge the government.

Article 19(1) in The Constitution Of India, All citizens shall have the right:

  • to freedom of speech and expression;
  • to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • to form associations or unions;
  • to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
  • omitted
  • to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Article 19(2) in The Constitution of India

Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause

  • in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  • the security of the State,
  • friendly relations with foreign States,
  • public order, decency or morality or
  • in relation to contempt of court,
  • defamation or incitement to an offense.

Some fundamental rights, such as those prohibiting untouchability, trafficking, and bonded labor, are explicitly against both the state and other individuals.

Source: The Indian Express


GS-III : Economic Issues Energy


  • Increasing the variety of energy sources, expanding India's footprint in exploration and production, India is concentrating on alternative energy sources and tackling the energy transition through a gas-based economy, green hydrogen, and electric vehicles (EVs) .
  • By adding new suppliers including Columbia, Russia, Libya, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, etc., India increased the number of its crude oil suppliers from 27 nations in 2006–07 to 39 in 2021–22.
  • India will provide 25% of the world’s energy demand by 2040 and would blend 20% ethanol into gasoline by 2025.

Energy security: What is it?

  • The goal of energy security is to reduce the vulnerability of crucial energy systems. It involves lowering the dangers of exposure to an outside element and so securing our energy demands. Energy security is also the continuous availability of energy sources at a reasonable cost.
  • Recently, the prime minister has also asked for the implementation of "Energy Atmanirbharta" by 2040, which addresses our "strategic autonomy" while focusing on "energy security".
  • The continuous and inexpensive availability of energy sources is referred to as energy security.
  • Energy security is defined as accessibility, affordability, and availability.
  • Long-term energy security involves making timely investments to meet energy needs while also keeping up with the needs of the environment and the economy.
  • The ability of the energy system to react quickly to unexpected changes in the supply-demand balance is the key component of short-term energy security.

How can we achieve "strategic autonomy" in the energy sector?

  • Prioritize the Availability of fossil fuels: the shift to a green energy system will be lengthy notwithstanding the benefits of renewable energy due to the slower rate of development of renewable energy infrastructures.
  • Therefore, we must keep emphasizing the need for safe and cheap access to oil and gas. By stepping up domestic exploration, this might be accomplished.
  • Nuclear Power: Radioactive fuels, such as uranium, are used to generate nuclear power. However, the country's uranium reserves are extremely small. India needs to have better partners who can help in achieving uranium needs along with, the membership of the Nuclear Supplier Group.
  • Blending ethanol is a step in the right direction for energy security and self-sufficiency measures. The Indian government has moved forward the deadline for mixing 20% ethanol (commonly known as E20) into gasoline from 2030 to 2025.
  • Taking down the barriers to domestic mining: Although India has some resources, like cobalt, nickel, copper, and heavy rare earth metals, we haven't done anything to hasten their extraction and processing. They are necessary building blocks for EVs, solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries.

What difficulties does India face in terms of its energy security?

Economic Difficulties:

  • The three most significant sources of primary energy in India are coal, oil, and natural gas. Due to insufficient indigenous supplies of these hydrocarbons, the nation must now import more goods.
  • The current account deficit (CAD) and rising fuel subsidies make the economy vulnerable.

Issues with Infrastructure and Skill:

  • Infrastructure needs improvement as well as a lack of competent labor for conventional and unconventional energy development.
  • India lacks the necessary transportation infrastructure to make energy accessible; for instance, pipelines could be a good approach to increase the nation's overall gas supply. Because it can be used efficiently in a number of demand sectors, gas will play a significant role in India's energy mix.
  • Due to its increasing reliance on imported oil, regulatory uncertainties, global monopolies, and opaque natural gas pricing practices, India's already precarious energy security is under enormous strain.
  • Through a variety of partners, such as the Indo-US nuclear agreement and oil imports from the Middle East, India aims to attain energy security.
  • Large multinational energy corporations showed no interest in the New Development Licensing Policy (NELP), which was an attempt to encourage foreign investment in domestic hydrocarbon exploration.
  • Hydrocarbon reserves abroad will need to be purchased with significant investments.
  • Due to delays in receiving regulatory and environmental approvals, coal mining is delayed in India.

What steps are being made to strengthen energy security?

  • By 2022, India has already committed to providing power to every home. The provision of electricity to all houses on a round-the-clock basis would be an even more ambitious objective.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana should be supplemented with the installation of biomass pelletizing facilities and the distribution of "efficient biomass challahs" to deliver clean fuel to rural areas.
  • On the agricultural front, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development's (NABARD) lending support and government subsidies are needed to finance the distribution objective for solar irrigation pumps.
  • To make potential non-conventional energy sources like geothermal energy, tidal energy, etc. economically and technologically feasible, they must be investigated and researched.
  • In order to encourage growth in the oil and gas sector in India, the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) aims to minimize the government's discretion in decision-making, eliminate conflicts, reduce administrative delays, and promote the notion of revenue sharing and marketing freedom.
  • In order to increase the economy's competitiveness, the tax system for the import and sale of energy on a thermal value basis needs to be rationalised.
  • Increase oil and gas delivery and refining. India should build new refineries to maintain its ability to export of refined goods.
  • In 21 states, 31 businesses are currently building City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks for the transportation or distribution of natural gas to users in the home, commercial, or industrial, and transportation sectors through a network of pipelines.

Way forward

  • Everyone in India is aware of the energy and environmental issues the country faces. In order to move toward becoming self-sufficient, India must develop an autonomous energy policy that takes into account every part of the industry.
  • At the Glasgow conference, India established a goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2070. Without first guaranteeing our energy requirements, it would be difficult to attain this goal. In terms of energy security, only then will we be able to claim to be a "strategically autonomous" nation and get one step closer to "Energy Atmanirbharta."
  • In order to fulfill its obligation under the Paris Agreement and ensure sustainable and inclusive growth, India must assure long-term planning.

Source: PIB

Exercise VARUNA

GS-II : International Relations Bilateral groupings and agreements

Exercise VARUNA

  • On the western seaboard, the 21st iteration of the edition naval exercise between France and India just got underway.
  • Although the two fleets' bilateral exercise was first conducted in 1993, it was renamed "VARUNA" in 2001 and has since come to symbolize the strategic bilateral cooperation between France and India.
  • The drill will take place from January 16–20, 2023, over a five-day period.
  • These exchanges serve as a further reminder of the ideals that our two navies share in preserving maritime freedom, upholding an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific, and upholding a rules-based international order.
  • High-speed naval operations at sea, including as sophisticated air defence and anti-submarine drills, tactical manoeuvres, underway resupply, and other maritime security operations, will be part of the exercise.
  • The French Navy is conducting the "Varuna" joint exercise as part of the "CLEMENCEAU 21" deployment of the French carrier strike group in the eastern Mediterranean, Gulf, and Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea).
  • Its objective is to improve partnerships with partner navies, particularly India for the Indian Ocean component, and to help stabilize these vital zones.
  • Initiated in 1993 and given the name "Varuna" in 2001, the bilateral exercise has come to characterize the strategic bilateral cooperation between France and India.
  • The Indian Navy's indigenous guided missile stealth destroyer INS Chennai, guided missile frigate INS Teg, maritime patrol aircraft P-8I and Dornier, integrated helicopters, and MiG29K fighter aircraft will also take part in this round of the exercise.
  • The aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, the frigates FS Forbin and Provence, the support vessel FS Marne, and the maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique will serve as the French Navy's representatives.
  • The exercise also gives the Indian Navy the chance to pick up on the French Navy's cutting-edge technologies and capabilities while also enhancing its own maritime capabilities.

Other Indo-French Joint Exercises:

  • Desert Knight-21 and Garuda (Air exercise)
  • Varuna (Naval exercise)
  • Shakti (Army exercise)

Source: PIB

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