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Rakesh Neelakandan asked : What should India do to secure its interests in the Arctic?

Uttam Kumar Sinha replies: The Arctic region is estimated to hold over 40 per cent of global reserves of oil and gas. Ice melting due to global warming will open up areas for exploring and extracting resources. The race for resource, as history has shown, leads to geopolitical competition and contest. The Chinese, quickly sensing the enormous resource potential in the region, have started articulating a ‘commons’ position, that is, no nation has sovereignty over the Arctic and that the resource are for all to exploit and use. The Arctic Council compromising five littoral states – Norway, US, Canada, Denmark and Russia – would not like outside intervention and would clearly like to monopolise the resources. While the Arctic might seem not to be in India’s strategic radar, it, however, does present an opportunity to articulate a view of ecological protection that is contrary to resource scramble. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 freezing territorial claims and allowing for only research and scientific activities is a good guidepost and India should articulate this in various forums.