- GS-3: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Context: The Parliament has passed the Indian Antarctic Bill 2022 to assist in protecting the frozen continent where India operates two research centres and is part of several scientific explorations.
- Till date, India neither has any laws governing its activities on the continent, nor any authority to issue permits for any kind of expeditions.
- Antarctica is the southernmost continent and does not have any indigenous population. The entire region is demilitarised and is used for scientific and peaceful purposes as per the Antarctic Treaty
- Antarctica is a vast ice-covered landmass surrounded by sea (unlike the Arctic, which is an ice-covered ocean surrounded by land). It’s bigger than Europe, and in summer, it’s still 62 times the size of the UK!
- Antarctica is the world’s highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent. Its record low temperature is -94°C. But it doesn’t actually snow much – the Antarctic is so dry it’s classed as a polar desert.
- And it’s in darkness part of the year. There are no trees, or shrubs, and only two kinds of native flowering plant.
- Not surprisingly there are no people permanently living or native to Antarctica – although there can be up to 5,000 scientists and researchers based there
- Antarctica has no land-based mammals – just some hardy flightless insects – but it’s rich in sealife, including seabirds like penguins, whales, seals and shrimp-like krill.
Mains Practice Question – As a country with global ambitions, India’s polar engagement can be seen as representing its own aspirations. Comment.
Note: Write answers to this question in the comment section.