India hopes for permanent presence in Arctic

India is aiming for a permanent presence, more research stations and the establishment of satellite earth stations in the Arctic, a perusal of the Arctic Policy document officially unveiled last week suggests.

India currently has a single station, Himadri, in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, where research personnel are usually present for 180 days. India is in the process of purchasing an icebreaker research vessel to navigate the region.

Through its existing network of satellites, India is aiming to capture more detailed images to “aid in the development of the Arctic”.

The Arctic has eight states — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Sweden and the United States — that make up the Arctic Council. It is home to about 4 million, a tenth of whom are indigenous tribes. India has had a research base in the region since 2008 and also has two observatories.

Polar weather influences the Indian monsoon and has therefore been of interest to Indian researchers for decades. Climate change and the melting of ice sheets imply changes in Arctic weather.

India has so far sent 13 expeditions to the Arctic since 2007 and is conducting 23 active science projects. About 25 institutes and universities are currently involved in Arctic research in India, and nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles have been published on Arctic issues since 2007, the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statement.

Arctic Council

It has ‘Observer’ member status — 12 other countries have such status — in the Arctic Council and participates in several meetings mainly themed around research.

In addition to science, India also expects business opportunities.

“Discover opportunities for responsible exploration of natural resources and minerals in the Arctic… identify opportunities for investment in Arctic infrastructure such as offshore exploration, mining, ports, railways, information technology and airports. It also expects Indian private industry to invest in establishing and improving such infrastructure,” the document said.


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