India’s policy towards the Arctic has undergone a shift in recent years. Analyze the factors driving this change and discuss the potential benefits associated with India’s growing engagement in the region.


In March 2024, India’s first winter experience at the Arctic came to a successful end. While the Indian Government seems keen to benefit from seabed mining and resource exploitation in the Arctic, it ought to unequivocally back a sustainable mode of extraction.


  • Introduce your answer by mentioning India’s evolving Arctic policy from initial scientific research to a comprehensive strategic focus due to environmental, economic, and geopolitical influences.
  • In the main body, discuss the factors driving this policy shift—climate change, geopolitical interests, economic opportunities, etc. Next address the benefits like access to resources, shorter trade routes, scientific advancements, international collaborations, etc.
  • Conclude by emphasizing the strategic balance of India’s Arctic policy in securing national interests while supporting global environmental sustainability.


India’s Arctic policy has evolved significantly, transitioning from limited scientific engagements to a comprehensive strategic approach. This shift reflects India’s recognition of the Arctic’s global environmental importance and its potential for economic and geopolitical opportunities. As the Arctic becomes an increasingly contested space, India’s enhanced involvement signifies a commitment to securing national interests while contributing to sustainable development.

Factors Driving the Change in India’s Arctic Policy:

  • Accelerated Climate Change: The Arctic is warming at a rate nearly twice the global average, affecting global weather patterns and sea levels, which has implications for India’s climate and monsoon patterns.
    • Links between melting Arctic ice and erratic monsoon patterns in India.
  • Strategic Geopolitical Interests: The geopolitical landscape of the Arctic is changing with new shipping routes and resource opportunities, drawing interest from global powers including the US, Russia, and China.
    • China’s assertive Arctic policy and the strategic implications of the Northern Sea Route have pushed India to enhance its presence and influence in the region.
  • Economic Opportunities: The Arctic offers significant untapped natural resources such as oil, gas, and minerals, which are becoming more accessible due to retreating ice.
    • India, with its growing energy needs, is interested in Arctic oil and gas reserves to diversify its energy sources.
  • Advances in Technology: have made Arctic exploration and research more feasible, allowing India and other nations to undertake more ambitious projects in the region.
    • Developments in icebreaker technology and cold climate engineering.

Benefits Associated with India’s Engagement in the Arctic Region:

  • Access to Strategic Resources: The Arctic is rich in resources like oil, gas, and rare minerals. Engaging in the region provides India with potential access to these resources, which can help secure its energy future.
    • India can diversify its energy sources, reducing its vulnerability to supply disruptions and contributing to long-term energy security.
  • Scientific and Research Advancements:The Arctic offers unique conditions for scientific research that can lead to breakthroughs in understanding global climate systems, environmental science, and more.
    • The Himadri Station offers pivotal data on polar science, contributing to better understanding of global climatic changes affecting India.
  • Economic Benefits through Shorter Trade Routes:The melting of Arctic ice opens new sea routes that can significantly shorten the distance between Asia and Europe, reducing shipping times and costs for Indian maritime trade.
    • The Northern Sea Route could cut the travel distance from Mumbai to Rotterdam by approximately 40%.
  • Improved Technology and Capabilities:The challenging conditions of the Arctic push for advancements in technology and capabilities in areas such as remote sensing, cold-weather engineering, and ice navigation.
    • Technologies developed for Arctic exploration can be adapted for use in the Himalayas.
  • International Collaborations and Agreements: Being an observer in the Arctic Council allows India to participate in multilateral discussions and agreements that shape the region’s future governance.
    • Partnerships with countries like Norway and Finland in Arctic research bring advanced expertise in climate science and renewable energy technologies to India.

India’s Arctic policy represents a balanced approach to safeguarding national interests while promoting responsible and sustainable exploration. This strategy not only enhances India’s security and economic gains but also contributes to the resilience of the global ecosystem.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • The Arctic serves as a ‘global thermostat’ and its health is crucial for understanding global climate change, which directly impacts India’s environmental policies.
  • India’s Arctic engagement began with the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, expanding to establish the Himadri research base in 2008 after initiating scientific missions in 2007.
  • After being granted ‘observer’ status by the Arctic Council in 2013, India commissioned a multi-sensor moored observatory in Svalbard in 2014 and an atmospheric laboratory in 2016.
Scroll to Top