Indias arctic policy

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental organization that offers the Arctic governments a space for dialogue and collaboration. The Arctic Council addresses issues pertaining to the environment, sustainable development, and indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The Secretariat of the Arctic Council, which was established in 1996, is situated in Troms, Norway. Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States are the other seven members of the Council. India has been an observer at the Arctic Council since 2013. In 2019, its observer membership was extended for an additional five years.

What is Arctic Council

The Arctic Council and India

New maritime routes are opening up as a result of the melting Arctic ice cap, and nations are vying for control of the area. Since 2013, India has participated actively as an observer in the Arctic Council, which serves as the primary forum for dialogue and collaboration on Arctic issues.
India has two interests in the Arctic. India, a nation with a huge coastline, is initially curious about the new maritime lanes that are developing as the ice melts. Second, India wants to be perceived as a responsible nation that is combating climate change because it is a big emitter of greenhouse gases.

India Arctic Mission

Who Chairs the ARCTIC COUNCIL?

The Council was created in 1996 to serve as a venue for dialogue and collaboration on issues pertaining to the environment and sustainable development of the Arctic. The protection of the environment, sustainable development, and indigenous peoples’ rights serve as the organization’s guiding ideals. The Arctic region and the effects of climate change are the Council’s primary concerns.
Every two years, the Arctic States switch off as the chairman of the Arctic Council.
Canada served as the Arctic Council’s first chair from 1996 to 1998. The United States, Finland, Iceland, the Russian Federation, Norway, the Kingdom of Denmark, and Sweden then took over. In 2013, the second Chairmanship cycle began.

The Russian Federation chairs the Artic Council from 2021 until 2023.

ARCTIC COUNCIL Strategic Actions

Members of the Arctic Council

EIGHT ARCTIC STATES: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States.

These nations are members of the Arctic Council, as stated in the Ottawa Declaration. The eight nations are stewards of the Arctic since they landed there. The lands and rivers surrounding the Arctic Ocean are governed by their national legal systems and international law. The Arctic Council places a high premium on the health and welfare of the more than four million residents who reside in the northern regions of the Arctic States.

Arctic Countries

The observer at Arctic Council

Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-Arctic governments as well as intergovernmental, interparliamentary, international, regional, and non-governmental organisations that the Council believes may contribute to its work. Usually, Arctic Council Observers contribute by taking part in Working Groups.
Countries are vying for positions as long-term participants in the High North. The 13 Arctic Council observers are very competitive in this race. For instance, China wants to be regarded as a country that is close to the Arctic, whereas the United Kingdom wants to be known as the “nearest neighbour” through the Shetland Islands. India is competing as well.

What is India’s Arctic Policy

India’s economic and strategic interests in the area have heavily influenced its Arctic strategy. India has been a strong proponent of more Arctic cooperation, notably in the fields of science and climate change.
India has taken a leading role in promoting environmentally friendly growth and protection in the Arctic as an Observer member of the Arctic Council. Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, has also emphasised the importance of international cooperation in preserving this delicate environment.
Although Indian scientists have been conducting research in the Arctic for many years, the government has just recently published its first official document on Arctic policy.

This document outlines India’s strategic objectives in the region, including the need to safeguard its economic and security interests.

  • The Indian government published an Arctic policy in March 2022.
  • It envisions India’s participation in Arctic research, environmental monitoring, marine cooperation, and energy security.
  • The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research under the Ministry of Earth Sciences is the coordinating organisation for the Arctic Policy’s implementation.

Where does India stand with respect to the Arctic?

  • The connection of India with the Arctic stretches back to 1920 when the Svalbard Treaty was signed in Paris.
  • India is one of the few nations to have established a permanent research station in the Arctic.
  • In the first week of August 2007, it launched its first research expedition to the Arctic.
  • Thereafter, India sent scientific teams to the Arctic every summer and winter to conduct research. Glaciology, hydrochemistry, microbiology, and atmospheric sciences dominate Indian studies.
  • In July 2008, the Himadri research station was established in Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway.
  • In 2014, the multimodal observatory IndArc was installed in Kongsfjorden by India.
  • Gruvebadet became the northernmost atmospheric laboratory in India in 2016. It was created to investigate clouds, precipitation, long-range pollutants, and other atmospheric background characteristics.
  • India has been an Arctic Council observer since 2013. Its observer membership was renewed for another five years in 2019.

Russia’s nuclear icebreaker and militarisation of the Arctic

President Vladimir Putin recently emphasised Russia’s Arctic dominance during a flag-raising ceremony and dock launch for two nuclear-powered icebreakers that would enable year-round passage in the Western Arctic.

About the new nuclear-powered icebreakers

  • Yakutia: It is three metres long and can carry up to 33,540 tonnes. It has the ability to pierce up to three metres of ice. It will be operational in 2024.
  • Rossiya: It is a nuclear-powered icebreaker measuring 209 metres in length. It has a displacement of up to 71,380 tonnes and is expected to be finished by 2027. It will be capable of breaking through four metres of ice.
  • The Arktika and the Sibir, two more icebreakers of the same type, are already in service.
  • These are part of Russia’s large-scale, methodical efforts to re-equip and renew its domestic icebreaker fleet in order to reinforce Russia’s position as a major Arctic power.

Conclusion on Arctic Council

In conclusion, the Arctic region and the Arctic Council are growing in importance due to climate change and the race for resources. The melting of the ice caps is opening up new shipping routes and access to oil and gas reserves, making the Arctic a key player in the global economy. The Arctic Council is working to ensure that the Arctic environment is protected and that the region’s indigenous peoples are involved in decision-making.


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