India’s Arctic Exploration

India’s Arctic Exploration


India’s recent foray into Arctic exploration marks a significant milestone, with four climate scientists undertaking the country’s first winter expedition in the region.

  • This endeavor at the Himadri research station in Svalbard, Norway, signifies a shift from previous summer missions, presenting challenges of extreme cold and polar nights.

GS-01 (Geography)


  • India’s decision to explore the Arctic year-round stems from scientific findings revealing accelerated Arctic warming and its potential impact on India’s climate.
  • Additionally, economic interests, such as utilizing Arctic Sea routes to enhance trade efficiency, and geopolitical concerns surrounding China’s presence in the region and Russia’s collaboration with China, have also influenced India’s Arctic exploration strategy.

Historical Context:

  • Svalbard Treaty: With the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in 1920, India marked its involvement in the Arctic exploration.
  • India’s observer status in the Arctic Council and investment in research infrastructure underscore its long-term engagement in the region.

Reasons Behind India’s Growing Interest in the Arctic Region:

  • Climate Change Concerns: India’s growing interest in the Arctic region is fueled by scientific data indicating accelerated warming in the Arctic, which has implications for catastrophic climatic occurrences in India. The correlation between melting Arctic sea ice and extreme weather events in India has prompted a shift in Indian policy towards Arctic exploration.
  • Trade Route Potential: India is eyeing the opening up of Arctic sea routes, particularly the Northern Sea Route, as an opportunity to enhance its trade routes. By leveraging Arctic sea routes, India aims to reduce costs and transit times for shipping companies, thereby improving overall trade efficiency and security.
  • Geopolitical Considerations: India’s interest in the Arctic is also driven by emerging geopolitical threats, notably China’s increasing investments in the region and Russia’s collaboration with China. Concerns over geopolitical tensions in the Arctic, particularly amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have prompted India to reassess its strategic priorities and engage more actively in the region’s affairs.


  • The Arctic holds valuable resources like coal, rare earth minerals, and hydrocarbons, making it economically significant for India, especially for addressing energy needs.
  • India has increased its engagement in the Arctic, conducting year-round research and establishing the Himadri research base to better understand climate change and its impact.
  • However, challenges such as environmental concerns and geopolitical tensions require India to pursue proactive diplomacy and collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable development and scientific cooperation in the region.

Arctic Region:

  • It is situated at the Earth’s northernmost part.
  • The Arctic encompasses the North Pole and extends across the Arctic Ocean, spanning countries like Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway, and Greenland.
  • It is noted for its frigid climate and the region is predominantly covered in ice, particularly during winter.
  • This icy landscape contributes to regulating global climate by reflecting sunlight.
  • The Arctic hosts a diverse ecosystem, providing habitats for polar bears, seals, whales, and various bird species.