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14th January 2023

Europe’s largest known deposit of REE found in Sweden


Sweden's LKAB had identified more than 1 million tonnes of rare earth oxides in the Kiruna area in the far north of the country, the largest known such deposit in Europe.

What are Rare Earth Elements (REE)?

  • The rare earth elements (REE) are a set of seventeen metallic elements. 
  • These include the fifteen lanthanides on the periodic table plus scandium and yttrium.
  • Rare earth elements are an essential part of many high-tech devices.
REE in India

Some REEs are available in India — such as Lanthanum, Cerium, Neodymium, Praseodymium and Samarium, etc. Others such as Dysprosium, Terbium, and Europium, which are classified as HREEs, are not available in Indian deposits in extractable quantities. 

Need of Rare Earth Metal

  • Rare earth minerals are essential to many high-tech manufacturing processes and are used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, portable electronics, microphones and speakers.

Significance of the development

  • Sweden currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union and is a country seen as a key part of the EU's strategy for self-sufficiency in key minerals.
  • The European Commission considers rare earths to be among the most critical resources for the region. 
  • The vast majority of rare earths are currently mined in China.

Samudrayaan Mission


India is aiming to send three persons to 6,000 meters below sea level as part of the Samudrayaan Mission. The mission heralds India's ushering into an era of a "Blue Economy" which is going to play a major part in building India's overall economy during the years to come.


About Samudrayaan Mission

  • Samudrayaan Mission is aimed to develop a self-propelled manned submersible to carry three human beings to a water depth of 6,000 meters in the ocean with a suite of scientific sensors and tools for deep ocean exploration. 
  • It has an endurance of 12 hours of operational period and 96 hours in case of emergency.
  • The projected timeline is five years for the period 2020-2021 to 2025-2026.

What are the main components of the Deep Sea Mission?

There are six components to this mission.

  • First component: A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6,000 metres in the ocean.
  • Second component: Developing a suite of observations and models to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables. 
  • Third component: Development of technological innovations to explore and conserve deep-sea biodiversity.
  • Fourth component: Exploring multi-metal hydrothermal sulphides mineralisation along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges. 
  • Fifth component: Focus on developing an offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant which will work with tidal energy.
  • Sixth component: Establishment of an advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology.


  • The preliminary design of the manned submersible ‘MATSYA 6000’ is completed and realization of the vehicle has been started along with various organizations including ISRO, IITM, and DRDO roped-in to support the initiative, the Union Minister added.
  • Developed indigenously, MATSYA 6000 is a manned submersible vehicle. It will facilitate the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in conducting deep ocean exploration.

Need in India

  • For India, there lies a unique maritime position, a 7517 km long coastline, which is home to nine coastal states and 1,382 islands. 
  • The Government of India’s vision of ‘New India’ highlights the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.

Which other entities are involved in Samudrayaan?

  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), IITM, and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will actively participate in this mission.

With the launch of the unique ocean mission ‘Samudrayaan’ in October 2021, India joined the elite club of nations such as the US, Russia, Japan, France, and China to have niche technology and vehicles to carry out subsea activities.

National Startup Day


On National Startup Day, it is indeed a moment to celebrate that roughly half of all recognised startups in India are now based in Tier II and Tier III cities. 

National Startup Day

  • In 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced January 16 as the National Startup Day, to celebrate the spirit of the Indian startup ecosystem. 
  • The importance of January 16 is that it was the founding day of the Startup India initiative.

About Startup India Initiative

  • Startup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to catalyze startup culture and build a strong and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India. 
  • To mark the occasion, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is also organizing the Startup India Innovation Week from January 10-16.
  • While the DPIIT heads the initiative, five government departments — the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), and NITI Aayog — are primarily responsible for the initiatives under Startup India. 

Startup in India

  • India has overtaken the US and China as the third-largest environment in the world for startups, according to the Economic Survey 2021–22. 
  • In India, there are more than 80,000 startups, and more than hundred of them have become unicorns
  • Currently, there are over 88,000 startups recognised by the DPIIT.
  • The government recently announced a USD 200 million investment in startups that design code, tools, or devices.

Benefits of Startups for the Economy

    • Opportunity: Start-ups are providing an opportunity to the entrepreneurial youth of India an opportunity to express their idea and grow their finances exponentially.
    • Wealth creation has therefore become synonymous with start-ups.
    • Employment: The establishment of a start-up brings with it growth in employment opportunities.
  • Catering to the needy section: The creation of products or services can cater to the needs of a section of the Indian population and make them economically more potent. For example, the availability of online e-commerce platforms to traditional artisans who can now more easily reach their customers.

Current Issues/Challenges

  • Short-term solution: Statistically, a large number of start-ups do not make it big and are shut down.
  • Economic issues: Closure of start-ups leads to
    • loss of the capital invested in them
    • loss of employment
    • sets a demotivating example for those willing to take chance by establishing a business entity
  • Disparities: Disparities in salary and working conditions are also known to exist in the start-up ecosystem to a large extent.
  • Unregulated: The start-up sector being less regulated has also led to no minimum labour laws being applied to it.
  • Exploitation: Most labourers working for start-ups are not entitled to worker’s welfare legislation and therefore face exploitation.

Heat stress more dangerous to corals than ocean acidification


Global warming poses a more significant threat to coral growth and reef accretion than ocean acidification (OA), according to a new study. 

How heat stress affects corals more than ocean acidification?

  • Ocean acidification slows the rate at which coral reefs generate calcium carbonate, thus slowing the growth of coral skeletons.
  • Heat stress directly affects coral performance in hospite exacerbation of light stress in the symbionts, whereas ocean acidification induces moderate effects on coral metabolism, some of them even positive.
  • As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent.

Role of corals 

  • Corals are animals. Coral reefs boost biodiversity, buffer storms and support the livelihoods of over one billion people.
  • Coral reefs do not absorb carbon and do not play a direct role in climate change mitigation. However, they are important for climate adaptation.
  • In the last decade, the world lost about 14 per cent of its coral reefs.

Required measures

  • A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that enable corals to tolerate heat can significantly improve coral reef conservation and restoration efforts
Understanding the terms
  • Heat Stress: Thermal stress is a term to describe a temperature change that is severe enough to cause unfavourable and even lethal conditions to aquatic organisms, their populations, community structure, or the ecosystem.
  • Ocean acidification: Ocean acidification describes the lowering of seawater pH and carbonate saturation that results from increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations.


Fear and foreboding in Joshimath


The human settlements in the Himalayan region in Joshimath have seen wide cracks in their houses, roads, etc. forcing people to move into safer regions.

Ground Report:

  • Joshimath is a pilgrimage town in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district with a population of around 22,000 people and with approximately 3,800 large and small residential structures.
  • Recently, cracks on walls and floors have been developed on the houses, roads, etc. due to the subsidence of land and soil creeping.

Reasons for the Soil creep and subsidence:

  • Natural Reasons: The Joshimath town is founded over the Himalayan regions, which is consistently affected by the earthquakes resulting in disasters like landslides.
  • Anthropogenic Reasons:  Joshimath was a landslide-affected area, and hence it was not recommended that a township be built here. No boulders were supposed to be removed either by digging or blasting, plantation be done on hill slopes and no trees cut, and that there be no mining within a radius of 5 km.
  • Land subsidence in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath town is due to a combination of factors including improper drainage systems, construction on unstable land mass without adequate checks, and deforestation.
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Art & Culture

Archeological Survey Discovers 1200-Year-Old Miniature Stupas 

Patna circle of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered two 1200-year-old miniature votive stupas during landscaping activities.


  • Location: It has been found near Sarai Tila mound within the premises of 'Nalanda Mahavihara', a world heritage site in Nalanda district in the state. 
  • The stupas, carved from stone, depict Buddha figures.

Nalanda Mahavihara site

  • The Nalanda Mahavihara site comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. 
  • It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal.


MAARG Platform

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal will launch the MAARG platform (Mentorship, Advisory, Assistance, Resilience, and Growth), which would facilitate mentorship between startups and entrepreneurs across sectors, stages, and functions.


  • MAARG (Mentorship, Advisory, Assistance, Resilience, and Growth), the National Mentorship Platform is a one stop platform to facilitate mentorship for Start-Ups across diverse sectors, functions, stages, geographies, and domains. 

National Startup Day

  • The Prime Minister has announced 16th January, the founding day of Startup India, as the National Startup Day. 
  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry is organizing Startup India Innovation Week from 10th January 2023 to 16th January 2023 to celebrate the Indian Startup Ecosystem. 
  • In this context, various Start-Up related workshops, capacity building sessions and events are being hosted by Start-Up India with each session dedicated to a particular theme pertaining to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India.

Science & Technology

HELINA to be deployed at LAC

The Indian Army has decided that it will deploy the anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) HELINA at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.


  • The HELINA missile is also called Dhruvastra. Earlier it was known as the Nag Missile.
  • The HELINA or Dhruvastra missile made in India travels at a speed of 230 meters per second or 828 kilometers per hour.
  • HELINA ie Dhruvastra is a third generation ‘fire and forget’ anti-tank missile (ATGM) system. 
  • It is capable of operating in all weather conditions. Its weight is about 45 kg.
  • It is 6 feet one inch in length. Its diameter is 7.9 inches. With an 8 kg warhead, it is one of the most dangerous anti-tank missiles in the world.
  • The enemy tank will not get a chance to avoid any missile coming at this speed. This speed is such that in the blink of an eye it can destroy the heaviest tank of the enemy.


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