India on 15 May 2013 was successful in getting the observer status in the Arctic Council along with five other nations namely China, Italy, Singapore and South Korea. This step of the Arctic Council will give India a foothold in the resource rich Arctic Ocean with the melting of the ice. As India will get an access from navigation to oil and gas exploration. The observer status was assigned to India after a meeting held at Kiruna, Sweden.
With this success, India will get an opportunity to contribute its scientific expertise mainly its capabilities in polar research to the work of the Arctic Council and support its objectives.
The observer status of India in the Arctic Council if seen at the realpolitik level; India will get an access for hydrocarbon exploration that is offered in the Arctic Circle. For this India will have to join its hands with one of the five countries gearing up for the purpose among US, Canada, Russia, Denmark and Russia.
If seen with the perspective of geographical distance than Russia is an ideal partner for India and to make this happen India will have to take a firm stand on the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge for Russia. Russia claims that the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge are the extension of its continental shelf. This support will also bring in India’s chances to get access in the rich deposits of Arctic Belt and utilize the North Sea Route.
About Melting Ice of Arctic Circle and Interests of Nations and Researchers
The level of melting ice in the Arctic sea in September 2012 went down to the new lows and attracted interest of nations and researchers towards it. Various nations placed their interest in the region for exploration of its rich mineral resources and navigation purposes.
India has its Arctic research station named Himadri since 2008 that is located at the International Arctic Research base, Ny-Alesund at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. The station is operated by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research. India’s approach in the Arctic Circle since 2008 has always been purely scientific.
China became the first Asian country to navigate the area with a three-month sea voyage in an ice breaker across the Arctic Circle.