While India has made progress on polar research, it lags behind other Asian countries in terms of infrastructure, research capabilities, and international collaborations in the Arctic. India needs to strengthen domestic capacity and capabilities to effectively engage with the evolving dynamics of the Arctic and contribute to scientific advancements, economic opportunities, and regional strategic engagements.

Capacity building and capability enhancement remain central to India’s Arctic endeavours. While ‘capacity’ refers to material adequacy, ‘capability’ refers to the possession of domain-specific qualifications, expertise, and skills. While capacity can be built rapidly, capability is realised incrementally over a period of time through the intellectual and educational processes of training, learning, operational experience, and equipment exploitation. An important consideration as regards national capacity and capability is that in the former case, the timelines can be shortened through acquisition, such as by buying an ice-class research vessel off-the-shelf or by renting such a vessel. However, capability – particularly in critical and niche domains, is acquired by nations over time.

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