The Arctic region, the enormous area around the North Pole spreading over one-sixth of the earth’s landmass, is increasingly being affected by external global forces – environmental, commercial and strategic and is poised to play an increasingly greater role in shaping the course of World Affairs. The Arctic Region is known to be rich in the strategically significant oil resource, which with its widespread demand will continue to define international relations and policy agendas of countries.
Increasingly, the Arctic is moving to the forefront of global geopolitics. The impacts of climate change in this region are more visible and measurable than ever before – warmer temperatures and historic lows of sea-ice. Globalisation and Geopolitics are contrasting images of global developments. The balance has tilted in favour of geopolitics with the rise of China and India, the reassertion of Russia, and the repercussions of 9/11.
In May 2013, India and Four other Asian States were accorded permanent observer status in the Arctic Council. India is closely following the developments in the Arctic region. Its interests in the region are scientific, environmental, commercial, as well as strategic.
There is potential for both cooperation and conflict in the Arctic, depending on Perspective and focus. The geopolitical status of the region is being transformed forming a strategic zone with new modes of cooperation, but also with international disagreements over maritime areas and access routes beyond the circumpolar land area.
Although India is taking its first steps in the Arctic, its policy in the Arctic suffers from the lack of a detailed strategy that would outline India’s key priorities yet a coherent national policy and further discussion in the Indian expert community of the issues of Arctic development is supposed to give momentum to India’s Arctic strategy.