Special Mention on Indian interest in the Arctic Ocean

Special Mention on Indian interest in the Arctic Ocean in the Rajya Sabha on March 27, 2012

India should lobby for a global treaty on the Arctic Ocean

The reports emanating from Northern  hemisphere indicate that there is  considerable international activity about the Arctic Ocean. The littoral countries like USA, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia are keen to exploit the vast natural resources of oil, gas, coal, zinc and silver lying buried under the icy Arctic Ocean. Estimates show that nearly 40 per cent of the global reserves of oil and gas are in the Arctic ocean.

Exploitation of Arctic Ocean and the melting of ice because of global warming also raise vital questions. The possibilities of the consequent climate change is certainly of concern for the entire world. The possibility of opening new shipping routes is  going to affect the traditional shipping routes which will be a matter of international concern.

The Arctic Ocean  belongs to the entire humanity and cannot be the concern of geographically littoral States like the US, Canada, Norway and Russia.

Also, there are geo-political concerns which India cannot ignore taking into account the changing 21st century world scenario.

It is time that India  mobilizes the international public opinion in favour of declaring the Arctic Ocean as another heritage of mankind. India should also make efforts for evolving an international legal regime, possibly on the lines of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.

It is time for India to evolve a definite policy and work out an action plan to ensure that what belongs to the entire world is not grabbed by a few countries, simply because they happen to be the Arctic Ocean’s immediate neighbours.