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India unveils Arctic policy, eyes S&T research in resource-rich region

The policy was unveiled by Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh


India on Thursday unveiled its Arctic policy that seeks to deepen the country's partnership with the resource-rich region.

The policy, titled "India and the Arctic: building a partnership for sustainable development" lays down six pillars—strengthening scientific research and cooperation, climate and environmental protection, economic and human development, transportation and connectivity, governance and international cooperation, and national capacity building in the Arctic region.

The policy was unveiled by Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh.

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.

The region holds immense geopolitical importance as the Arctic is projected to be ice-free by 2050 and world powers making a beeline to exploit the region rich in natural resources.

Besides metals and minerals, the region is also known to have huge oil reserves and is expected to emerge as a key sea transport lane in the future.

India maintains that all human activity in the region should be sustainable, responsible, transparent and based on respect for international laws.

The Arctic policy aims to strengthen national capabilities and competencies in science and exploration, climate and environmental protection, maritime and economic cooperation with the Arctic region.

It seeks to strengthen institutional and human resource capacities within the government and academic, research and business institutions through inter-ministerial coordination in pursuit of India's interests in the Arctic.

It also seeks to enhance understanding of the impact of climate change in the Arctic region on India's climate, economic and energy security.

The policy also aims to promote 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.

It also seeks to study the linkages between polar regions and the Himalayas and deepen the cooperation between India and the countries of the Arctic region under various Arctic forums, drawing expertise from scientific and traditional knowledge.

The policy also seeks to 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.