India observer at Arctic Council

Context

Recently, at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting at Rovaniemi, Finland, India was re-elected as an Observer to the Arctic Council.

About

  • India was first granted the Observer status in 2013, along with five other nations.
  • As an Observer, India will not be allowed to take part in the active meetings but will participate in side events.
  • China, South Korea, Singapore, Italy and Japan also have Observer status at the Council.
  • At the meeting, chairmanship of the Council was passed from Finland to Iceland.

Arctic Council

  • Established through the Ottawa Declaration of 1996, it is an informal intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation in regulating the activities in the Arctic region.
  • It consists of
    • Member nations: Eight nations that have territories in the Arctic, namely, Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway, Demark, Sweden, Iceland and Finland.
    • Permanent Participants: Six organisations representing the indigenous people of the Arctic region.
    • Observers:  Observer status in the Arctic Council is open to non-arctic states, inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary organizations, global and regional, and non-governmental organizations

Through six working groups, each dealing with a specific subject, the Arctic Council seeks to evolve a consensus on the activities that can be carried out in the Arctic region in keeping with the overall objective of conserving the pristine environment, biodiversity, and the interests and well-being of the local populations.

All decision-making happens through consensus between the eight members, and in consultation with the permanent participants.

Currently, the U.S.A is planning to beef up its Arctic presence to keep Russia and China’s aggressive behaviour in check in the region.

Article Circle

  • It is at approximately 66°30′ N.
  • Due to the Earth’s inclination of about 23 1/2° to the vertical, it marks the southern limit of the area within which, for one day or more each year, the Sun does not set (about June 21) or rise (about December 21).
  • The length of continuous day or night increases northward from one day on the Arctic Circle to six months at the North Pole.
  • The Antarctic Circle is the southern counterpart of the Arctic Circle, where on any given date conditions of daylight or darkness are exactly opposite.
  • The region has become an arena of global power and competition” owing to vast reserves of oil, gas, minerals and fish stocks.

Arctic and India

  • India is one of the very few countries to set up a permanent station in the Arctic for the purposes of scientific research.
  • The station has been used to carry out a variety of biological, glaciological and atmospheric and climate sciences research projects in the last one decade.
  • The Himadri research station, located in Ny Alesund, Svalbard in Norway, about 1200 km south of the North Pole, was started in July 2008.
  • The Goa-based National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCOAR) is the nodal organisation coordinating the research activities at this station.

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