Minister of Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh released ‘India and the Arctic: building a partnership for sustainable development’ 2022, on 17 March 2022.

India’s Arctic Policy (IAP) was notified as a draft document in early January 2021.

History of India’s Artic relations

India’s Arctic contacts began a century ago with its signing of the “Svalbard Treaty” in February 1920 in Paris.

The Svalbard Treaty was signed on 9 February 1920 by Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands,Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom (including the dominions of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India), and the United States.

Himadri, India’s first permanent Arctic research station, was inaugurated on the 1st of July, 2008. India is one of the 13 countries holding the observer status in the Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the region. India became an Observer nation in the Arctic Council in 2013.

In 2014 at Kongsfjorden fjord, Svalbard, Norway, IndARC , the India’s first underwater moored observatory in the Arctic region was set up bythe scientists from National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).

 In 2016, India set up Gruvebadet Atmospheric Laboratory at Ny Alesund, Svalbard with the aim of initiating studies on clouds, precipitation, long-range pollutants, and other background atmospheric parameters.

India’s Artic Policy

The Arctic policy lays down six pillars:
1) Science and research
2) Climate and environmental protection
3) Economic and human development
4) Transportation and connectivity
5) Governance and international cooperation
6) National capacity building.

The policy shall be implemented through an Action Plan and an implementation and review mechanism involving the inter-ministerial Empowered Arctic Policy Group. The implementation will involve all stakeholders including academia, research community, business and industry.
India’s Arctic policy aims to promote the following agenda:
• 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.

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