India’s Arctic Challenge

Syllabus: GS-I, Subject: Geography, Topic: Resources – World and India, Issue: Arctic Region

Context: India’s first winter Arctic mission ended successfully in March 2024.

 Reason behind winter Arctic mission:

  • India’s policy shift was driven by scientific data revealing accelerated Arctic warming.
  • New Delhi seeks to exploit Arctic Sea routes for trade to reduce costs and time.
  • Geopolitical concerns arise from China’s Arctic investments and Russia-China cooperation.
  • Tensions in the region, including Russia-Ukraine conflict, amplify India’s strategic considerations.

Other issues:

  • Indian academia and policy communities are divided on Arctic engagement.
  • Debate centers on economic impacts versus environmental concerns of Arctic resource exploitation.
+1 advantage for mains( India’s cooperation with Arctic countries)·                India and Norway have collaborated since the late 1980s on Arctic and Antarctic research.

·                Cooperation intensified due to climate change impacts on the Arctic and South Asian monsoon.

·                India aims to enhance ‘responsible stakeholder’ status through green energy and clean industries cooperation with Arctic countries.

·                Collaboration with Denmark and Finland focuses on waste management, pollution control, and renewable energy.

·                Partnership with Norway could boost Indian participation in Arctic Council’s working groups.

·                Indian government seeks sustainable extraction in Arctic while exploring economic opportunities.

·                Norway could assist India in designing sustainable policies accommodating scientific and industrial needs.

·                Both countries seek constructive ways to alleviate geopolitical tensions in the Arctic.

India’s Arctic Journey

·                India’s Arctic involvement dates back to 1920 with the signing of the Svalbard Treaty.

·                In 2007, India initiated its first Arctic research mission.

·                India established its Arctic research base in 2008, joining China as the only developing countries with a presence.

·                Granted ‘observer’ status by the Arctic Council in 2013,.

·                Multi-sensor moored observatory in Svalbard (2014) and atmospheric laboratory (2016) were commissioned.

·                Research focuses on Arctic ice systems, glaciers, and their impact on the Himalayas and Indian monsoon.

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