Even as it seeks full observer status to the Arctic Council, which governs resources in the Arctic Circle, India believes that it brings to the table a “wealth of experience” that can “contribute to the information pool” of the Council, according to India’s high commissioner to Canada, Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Verma.
India has been lobbying for the status but at this time the group of observers, which includes six European nations, is not being expanded. However, with Canada assuming chairmanship of the Council this May, that could change.
Referring to the observer status, the high commissioner, who was till recently chief of naval staff, told HT, “If our strengths are recognised, it could be considered.” There have been positive signals from Ottawa, but no commitment. Other nations that are seeking full observer status include China, Japan and the European Union.
The high commissioner said, “Arctic is something which is of extreme importance to us knowing in the due course of time it’s going to be an important hub for possible sources of energy, it could be a passage which shortens transit times for shipping and for that matter, many scientific areas in which we’ll be quite interested.”
India has been working with the Council’s eight member nations. As the high commissioner pointed out, “It is something we are pursuing because we think we can bring a lot of strength to bear. Even at this time, we have an experimental station in Norway with the intention of carrying out research in the northern latitudes.”
He also expressed confidence that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Canada and India will become a reality soon.