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India unveils its Arctic policy, focusses on combating climate change

GS Paper: 2

Topics Covered: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.



The Centre released India’s Arctic Policy, with the aim of enhancing the country’s cooperation with the resource-rich and rapidly transforming region.


Need for such a Policy

The relevance of Arctic for India can be broadly explained under three categories:

(A)Scientific Research, Climate Change and Environment

  • Monsoons
    • The changes occurring in the Arctic are yet to be understood fully, but it is clear that they have been impacting global weather, climate and ecosystems including the monsoons in India.
    • During the monsoons, India receives over 70 per cent of its annual precipitation. India’s agriculture, which is the primary source of livelihood for about 58 per cent of India’s population and contributes around 20 per cent to the GDP,4 is directly dependent on monsoons
  • Rising Sea Level
    • The ice loss in the Arctic is a major contributor to global sea-level rise6 and it can have a significant impact on India, especially over its 1,300 island territories and maritime features
  • Himalayas
    • The Arctic and the Himalayas, though geographically distant, are interconnected and share similar concerns. The Arctic meltdown is helping the scientific community to better understand the glacial melt in the Himalayas, which has often been referred to as the ‘third pole’ and has the largest freshwater reserves after the North and South poles
    • The study of Arctic is therefore critical to Indian scientists.

(B) Economic and Human Resources

  • Mineral Resources and Hydrocarbons
    • Arctic region has rich deposits of coal, gypsum and diamonds and also substantial reserves of zinc, lead, placer gold and quartz.10 Greenland alone possesses about a quarter of world’s rare earth reserves.
    • India is the third-largest energy-consuming country in the world, the third-largest oil importer (83 per cent) and the fourth-largest importer of gas which caters to almost half of the total gas consumption.
    • Arctic can therefore potentially address India’s energy security needs and deficiency of strategic and rare earth minerals.


Current Affairs


India’s Arctic Policy

The six pillars of the Policy are as follows:

  • Science and Research
  • Economic and Human Development Cooperation
  • Climate and Environmental Protection
  • Transportation and Connectivity
  • Governance and International Cooperation
  • National Capacity Building


Current Affairs


The Objectives of the Policy

  • Strengthening national capabilities and competencies in science and exploration, climate and environmental protection, maritime and economic cooperation with the Arctic region. Institutional and human resource capacities will be strengthened within Government and academic, research and business institutions.
  • Inter-ministerial coordination in pursuit of India’s interests in the Arctic.
  • Enhancing understanding of the impact of climate change in the Arctic on India’s climate, economic, and energy security.
  • Contributing better analysis, prediction, and coordinated policymaking on the implications of ice melting in the Arctic on India’s economic, military and strategic interests related to global shipping routes, energy security, and exploitation of mineral wealth.
  • Studying linkages between polar regions and the Himalayas.
  • Deepen cooperation between India and countries of the Arctic region under various Arctic forums, drawing expertise from scientific and traditional knowledge.
  • Increase India’s participation in the Arctic Council and improve understanding of the complex governance structures in the Arctic, relevant international laws, and geopolitics of the region


Does this India’s Arctic Policy Address the Gaps?

  • Scientific Orientation: India’s Arctic Policy has gone beyond the hithertofore purely scientific approach. While the primary focus is still scientific, the six pillars address all the aspects of Arctic relevant to India, including climate change and environment, economic and human resources and geopolitical and strategic aspects. This would likely make India’s engagement with the Arctic more broad-based and enable a holistic approac
  • Funding: The Policy declares that its implementation will be based on allocation of requisite resources. With the enhancement of a multidisciplinary approach to the Arctic, it is hoped that budgetary support to India’s scientific Arctic endeavours will be substantially augmented.
  • Polar Research Vessel: The intent articulated in the Arctic Policy of acquiring a dedicated ice-class Polar Research Vessel will hasten the process and provide impetus to India’s Arctic Programme.
  • Whole-of-Government Focus: The objectives outlined in India’s Arctic Policy are to be implemented through an Action Plan and a governance and review mechanism consisting of an inter-ministerial Empowered Arctic Policy Group (EAPG)
    • This mechanism is likely to enable better analysis, prediction and coordinated approach in the Government of India, lend policy coherence to the region and will result in better realisation of India’s strategic, military and economic interests.


On the whole, India’s Arctic Policy is timely and is likely to provide a direction to India’s policy-makers on contours of India’s engagement with the region. It is the first step towards developing a whole-of-government approach on India’s engagement with the region.

  • The Policy is likely to have a multiplier effect towards a more synergised and focused scientific research including an enhanced understanding of linkages between monsoons and climate change in the Arctic, and between polar studies and the Himalayas.
  • Thus, India’s Arctic Policy is deftly dovetailed, enmeshed and in synergy with the broader policy framework of the Government of India



Prelims Link:

  • India’s Arctic Policy History
  • Benefits of Arctic Policy

Mains Link:

The recent Arctic Policy has overcome the gaps in earlier related Interventions of India. Do you agree? Comment

Source: The Indian Express