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Question:  The demand for rare earth metals has transgressed into a geopolitical conflict between US and China. Explain the implications on India.

 

Answer:  Rare earth metals are a group of natural elements that have a distinct property that is necessary for manufacturing a wide variety of goods. These metals are difficult to obtain and have high value.

Importance of rare earth metals

  • Electronics
    Many rare earth metals are used in consumer electronics. Without these metals, many devices fail to work. In future digital world, they will play a major role.
  • Nuclear technology
    Nuclear energy is set to become an important part of future energy security. Raw materials in the process are obtained from set of minerals that are rare.
  • Defence and communication
    Many alloy metals of this group are used in manufacturing of weapons and shields. Many metals are also used in communication technology such as satellite.

Implications on India

  • Relying on China
    China is current leader of rare earth metals. Majority of world’s demand is fulfilled by the country. If the country wants, it can create artificial demand and shortage.
  • Effects on self sufficiency
    If India wants to become a leader of electronics manufacturing, it should have independent access to these metals. Without them, we will be forced to rely on other countries.

Way ahead

  • New exploration
    Many countries are indulging in exploration of rare metals so that they become self sufficient. This includes deep sea mining as well as space mining.
  • Grouping to counter China
    A group of like-minded countries should be formed that can jointly explore rare earth metals to counter China’s hegemony.

Thus, rare earth metals have a very critical role to play in the future of the world. It can be used as a tool to settle geopolitical score.

Updated on 22 Jan 2022 |   Added on .20 Jan 2022  |  by admin