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India and the Arctic:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.



The government has unveiled India’s Arctic Policy with an aim to combat climate change and protect the environment.

  • India holds one of the 13 positions as the Observer in the Arctic Council.



The Indian Arctic policy is built on six central pillars:

  1. Science and research.
  2. Environmental protection.
  3. Economic and human development.
  4. Transportation and connectivity.
  5. Governance and international cooperation.
  6. National capacity building.


Highlights of the Policy:

  1. The policy commits to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.
  2. It spells out goals in India’s Arctic Mission such as to better understand the scientific and climate-related linkages between the Arctic and the Indian monsoons.
  3. It also seeks to harmonise polar research with the third pole (the Himalayas) and to advance the study and understanding of the Arctic within India.
  4. The policy calls for exploration opportunities for responsible exploration of natural resources and minerals from the Arctic and identifying opportunities for investment in Arctic infrastructure in areas such as “offshore exploration/mining, ports, railways and airports.


Arctic region:

  • The Arctic region comprises the Arctic Ocean and parts of countries such as Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, USA (Alaska), Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
  • These countries together form the core of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum. The region is home to almost four million inhabitants, of which, about one-tenth are indigenous people.


India’s engagement in the Arctic:

  • India’s engagement with the Arctic began when it signed the Svalbard Treaty in February 1920 in Paris between Norway, the US, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Ireland, and the British overseas Dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen. Ever since then, India has been closely monitoring all the developments in the Arctic region.
  • India initiated its Arctic research program in 2007 with a focus on climate change in the region. The objectives included studying teleconnections between Arctic climate and Indian monsoon, to characterize sea ice in the Arctic using satellite data, to estimate the effect on global warming.
  • India already has a research station in the Arctic, Himadri, for the research work.


Significance of arctic study for India:

  • Though none of India’s territory directly falls in the Arctic region, it is a crucial area as the Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
  • Due to climate change, the region faces the loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean which in turn impacts the global climate.
  • The frigid Arctic, which keeps losing ice due to global warming, is one of the batteries feeding the variations in Indian monsoons.



Prelims Link:

  1. About Himadri.
  2. India’s research stations at Arctic and Antarctica.
  3. About Arctic Council.
  4. Overview of India’s draft ‘Arctic’ policy.

Mains Link:

The frigid Arctic, which keeps losing ice due to global warming, is one of the batteries feeding the variations in Indian monsoons. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.