4 February 2020
By Prof D Suba Chandran
Professor & Dean, International Strategic & Security Studies Programme National Institute of Advanced Studies. (NIAS)
There are four perspectives to suggest that Arctic was not far away from India. First, great powers have frequently expanded their hegemony through space exploration to suggest that geographical separation was not a constraint. India with great power ambitions, could not afford to under address Arctic. Second, in terms of climate change, India’s economy is tied to the monsoons. With sea level rise as a challenge, the climate change impacts on India’s neighbourhood are unavoidable. To meet the challenge, the neighbourhood has cooperated with India on data for disaster management. Artic being important to understand climate impacts, these data would be beneficial for South Asia’s sustainable development. Third, in space exploration Arctic would enhance the efficiency of weather observations. Fourth, the presence of rare resources and fossils will draw India closer to Arctic. With China’s presence through the Polar Silk Route aiming to circumvent the Malacca dilemma, a shift from Indian Ocean Region to the Arctic will come.
First, India should collaborate with other smaller countries to increase its footprint in the Arctic. Second, India should give more importance to multiple Arctic forums in terms of participation. The membership from the India in the academic forums related to Arctic should be increased. Third, in the current scenario India’s engagement with the Arctic is primarily between governments, hence it is important to foresee track-2 dialogues with Arctic forums, where Indian institutions and Arctic institutions would join forces periodically. Fourth, the basic infrastructure projects like the INSTC and Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor could be India’s geographic vectors to the Arctic. Last, India needs to find a corollary to within the framework, of ‘Indo-Arctic ’for its Artic policy.