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Shashank Mittal asked: How can India's Arctic Policy be analysed from an International Relations theory perspective?

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  • Non-Traditional Security Centre replies: India published its first Arctic Policy document on 17 March 2022. The document highlights India’s near and long-term national objectives for the Arctic. From a theoretical perspective, it can be argued that India’s Arctic Policy calls for advancing ‘science diplomacy’ through which it seeks to strengthen and advance its existing cooperation with all the Arctic states. India equally emphasises the application of international law for the peaceful resolution of existing territorial disputes in the Arctic. 

    The ‘securitisation theory’, as propagated by the Copenhagen School of Security Studies, largely dominates the Arctic geopolitics. With the onset of the Ukraine crisis, ‘securitisation’ has widened in the Arctic and the challenges/issues are being taken out of the realm of ‘normal politics’ and into the contested domain of ‘security politics’. It can also be observed that a classic ‘security dilemma’ has emerged in the region in which states take measures to improve security prompting other states to respond with their own security measures—a risky situation that can lead to unintended outcomes. In this regard, it will be useful to refer to Robert Jervis’s seminal article, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma” (World Politics, January 1978), along with the works of Herbert Butterfield and John Herz, and Barry Buzan’s People, States, and Fear (1983), Richard Ullman’s “Redefining Security” (International Security, Summer 1983), Johan Galtung’s “Twenty-Five Years of Peace Research” (Journal of Peace Research, June 1985), and Jessica Tuchman Mathews’ “Redefining Security” (Foreign Affairs, Spring 1989). But from a ‘science diplomacy’ perspective that reinforces the connection between science, technology and international affairs, the Arctic requires ‘cooperation’ and not ‘conflict’. Instead of ‘securitisation’, ‘de-securitisation’ is needed to address global issues of common concern. India’s Arctic Policy provides a fresh outlook of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam that can actually enable ‘de-securitisation’ in the Arctic. 

    Posted on 24 August 2022

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.