Q. How is the Arctic Region significant for India? What are the driving factors for India’s participation in Northern Sea Route (NSR) Development?

Q. How is the Arctic Region significant for India? What are the driving factors for India’s participation in Northern Sea Route (NSR) Development?

Daily Answer Writing Programme Relevance: GS III Date: 30/12/23

Ans: The Arctic, far north of India, is a polar region encompassing the Arctic Ocean and parts of countries like the USA, Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia. India, despite its geographical distance, recognizes the Arctic's global significance. The region's climate dynamics, environmental changes, and resource potential are crucial for India's scientific research, climate understanding, and future policy strategies in a rapidly changing world.

Significance of the Arctic Region for India

  • Climate Impact: 

    Example: Melting Arctic ice affects global weather patterns, potentially influencing monsoon patterns and thereby impacting India's agriculture and water resources.

  • Resource Potential:

    Example: The Arctic is believed to contain substantial oil and gas reserves. India's ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) has invested in Russia's Arctic region, reflecting interest in these resources.

  • Strategic Shipping Routes: Example: The Northern Sea Route offers a shorter path between Europe and Asia, which could reduce shipping times for Indian vessels, enhancing trade efficiency.

  • Geopolitical Importance:

    Example: As Arctic ice melts, nations including Russia and the USA are increasing their presence in the region. India, by gaining observer status in the Arctic Council, acknowledges the strategic importance of the region.

  • India's Role:

    Example: India's Arctic Policy of 2022 aims to contribute to sustainable development in the Arctic. This includes Indian scientific research initiatives like the Himadri station in Svalbard, Norway, focusing on climate research aligned with global environmental goals.


India's Interest in the Northern Sea Route 

  • Cargo Traffic Growth:

    Example: The increasing use of the NSR for European-Asian trade provides a potential pathway for Indian goods, potentially enhancing India's trade efficiency.

  • Energy Resource Imports:

    Example: India's partnership with Russia for oil and gas imports, such as the Sakhalin oil fields, highlights the NSR's role in facilitating faster and more cost-effective transportation.

  • Geographical Advantage:

    Example: The shorter distance between Indian ports and Europe through the NSR compared to traditional routes can reduce transit times and costs for Indian shipping.

  • Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor (CVMC) Project:

    Example: This corridor aims to connect India's eastern coast directly to Russia’s Far East, making trade more efficient and bypassing traditional routes through the Strait of Malacca.

  • Strategic Considerations: 

    Example: India's engagement with the NSR can be seen as a strategic move to maintain a balance of power, especially considering China's Belt and Road Initiative and its Arctic ambitions.

  • Future Developments:

    Example: Russia’s plans to enhance NSR infrastructure, like the development of the port of Sabetta in Yamal, could facilitate India's access to Arctic resources and markets.

India's investment in Arctic research through its Himadri station in Norway and its satellite ground station in Sweden signifies its commitment to a sustained presence in the Arctic region.

Advait IAS