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Geostrategic loss of India in the age of global warming

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In the wake of global warming, Arctic Ocean could be foreseen free of ice during summertime, says a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. This is a big news that concerns the geostrategic importance of India. It implies that reduced ice coverage combined with technological improvements may allow this region to become accessible to large-scale economic activities to a degree never experienced before.

India can be a victim to this increasing environmental threat in more than one way. For which the country will have to develop policies to safeguard its environment and also its geostrategic importance in the world.

India, a geographically privileged country can come under the threat of losing its geo significance and can shift to a zone of less importance due to international paradigm shifts in geostrategies.

Renowned geopolitical theorist, Sir Halford Mackinder had said that geographic locations and natural resources are the paramount factors in determining a nation’s foreign policy and power base. He believed the actual world political power at any given time was, “the product, on the one hand, of geographic condition of both economic and strategic, and on the other hand, of the relative number, virility, equipment, and organisation of competing people.”

The Indian Ocean signifies the above factors and, thus, becomes of extreme importance to Indian Navy targeting at building the ”Blue Water” navy. We find India at the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean region. It is the nerve axis of the sea lanes of communication (SLOC) as they initiate and terminate here.

China is attempting to develop an overwhelmingly powerful strategy in the Indian Ocean to protect its sea lanes of communication, especially for the transportation of energy through the Malacca Strait.

It is aware of the vulnerability of its SLOC’s from state and non-state actors. China is even more so susceptible in the Malacca Strait as over 82 percent of its oil imports pass through it. According to the former Chinese President Hu Jintao, this vulnerability represents China’s ‘Malacca Dilemma’.

Beijing is growingly getting concerned about China’s lacking to protect its SLOCs as it could be used as a bargaining chip against it in the context of a wider dispute. The argument is that Indian Navy might use it to impede oil traffic heading to China through the Malacca Strait. Both the countries aim to have a presence in the strategically located Strait where 40 percent of the world’s trade and more than 80 percent of China’s oil imports pass through.

China is not a member of Artic Council, yet has started devoting increasing attention to the political, commercial, and security implications of a much easily navigable Arctic. According to recent reports, the country can be expected to seek an active role in deter­mining the “political framework and legal foundation” for future activates in the high north.

In 2009, China was the largest exporter and second-largest importer of globally shipped goods. As Arctic sea ice melts, two international shipping routes – the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage (also known as the Northern Sea Route) – will become increasingly usable for commercial shipping purposes.

China’s access to these alternate shipping routes could have profound impacts on China’s trade and shipping patterns in the future. One of the trade routes which will open up is, the Northeast Passage, which runs along Russia’s northern border from the Bering Strait to Nova Zemlya, is 6,400 kilometres shorter than China’s route to Europe via the Malacca Strait and the Suez Canal which will help China shorten its trade route.

China can benefit from the Northeast Passage because it will provide lower logistical and regulatory costs due to shorter journeys.

According to Dr Guo Peiqing, Associate Professor at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao and a respected expert on Arctic issues, the Northeast Passage “will change the structure of global trade. It may well bring about the emergence of a new, circumpolar super-economic belt made up of Asia, North America and Northern Europe.” Increased use of Northeast Passage would also alleviate dependence on the Malacca Strait, helping to address China’s “Malacca Dilemma.”

With global warming peaking, the melting of the arctic belt can create these alternative routes pushing the prime importance of the Indian Ocean. Which will inversely affect India’s upper hand in the region. To safeguard its importance, India is will have to develop a pre-emptive plan.

MV Xue Long, a second generation Chinese icebreaker, made a trip north to Alaska in order to support China’s growing needs in the Arctic. This indicates china’s tangible interest not being climate change rather an alternative to reduce India’s maritime prominence in its SLOCs.

India can become less important in the global geopolitical arena with better natural resources and sea lines opening for the world in the Arctic. India might also need to develop its weapon strength as lack of interest can lead China to show-off of its military strength as well.

There is an urgent need to develop specific strategies to improve India’s maritime relation with other countries involved in the East China Sea as those sea lanes will become the trading giants then.

The Indian Ocean can lose its marine importance due to the effect of melting of Arctic cap and thus weaken it on the global biodiversity map.

(Image: http://arcticportal.org/)

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Strong Monsoons reversing India’s 50-year Dry Spell: Study

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Low lying areas, patches of roads, paddy fields and several houses have been inundated by the rain water in Tripura. VOA

BOSTON, July 25, 2017: Indian summer monsoons have strengthened over the past 15 years, reversing a 50-year dry period during which northern and central India received relatively little rainfall, an MIT study has found.

Indian summer monsoons bring rainfall to the country each year between June and September.

Researchers found that since 2002 a drying trend has given way to a much wetter pattern, with stronger monsoons supplying much-needed rain, along with powerful, damaging floods, to the populous north central region of India.

A shift in India’s land and sea temperatures may partially explain this increase in monsoon rainfall, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Researchers note that starting in 2002, nearly the entire Indian subcontinent has experienced very strong warming, reaching between 0.1 and 1 degree Celsius per year. Meanwhile, a rise in temperatures over the Indian Ocean has slowed significantly.

According to Chien Wang, a senior research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, this sharp gradient in temperatures – high over land, and low over surrounding waters – is a perfect recipe for whipping up stronger monsoons.

“Climatologically, India went through a sudden, drastic warming, while the Indian Ocean, which used to be warm, all of a sudden slowed its warming,” Wang said.

“This may have been from a combination of natural variability and anthropogenic influences, and we are still trying to get to the bottom of the physical processes that caused this reversal,” he said.

The Indian monsoon phenomenon is the longest recorded monsoon system in meteorology, researchers said.

From yearly measurements, scientists had observed that, since the 1950s, the monsoons were bringing less rain to north central India – a drying period that did not seem to let up, compared to a similar monsoon system over Africa and East Asia, which appeared to reverse its drying trend in the 1980s.

However, researchers found that India has already begun to reverse its dry spell.

The team tracked India’s average daily monsoon rainfall from 1950 to the present day, using six global precipitation datasets, each of which aggregate measurements from the thousands of rain gauges in India, as well as measurements of rainfall and temperature from satellites monitoring land and sea surfaces.

Between 1950 and 2002, they found that north central India experienced a decrease in daily rainfall average, of 0.18 millimetres per decade, during the monsoon season.

To their surprise, they discovered that since 2002, precipitation in the region has revived, increasing daily rainfall average by 1.34 millimetres per decade.

“The Indian monsoon is considered a textbook, clearly defined phenomenon, and we think we know a lot about it, but we do not,” Wang said. (IANS)

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Killing of Indian Fisherman allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy raised in Lok Sabha

Raising the issue in the lower house, AIADMK leader M. Thambidurai said the fishermen community was in "shock" over the killing

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A fisherman in India (representational image), Wikimedia

New Delhi, March 9, 2017: Members in the Lok Sabha on Thursday raised the issue of the killing of an Indian fisherman allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, and sought action from the government.

Raising the issue in the lower house, AIADMK leader M. Thambidurai said the fishermen community was in “shock” over the killing.

He also said that Indian fishermen are regularly troubled by the Sri Lankan Navy who at times also take away their fishing equipment.

The AIADMK member also urged the central government to resolve the issue around the Katchatheevu island, which was ceded to Sri Lanka.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said urgent action needed to be taken for the fishermen community who are losing their livelihood as the fish catch close to the shore was depleted, and the fishermen are forced to go into deep waters.

Tharoor said that Indian fishermen were also being arrested by Pakistan’s Navy and recently, Indian fishermen were taken in custody in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) of Diego Garcia, an archipelago of 55 islands in the Indian Ocean south of India.

“Fish stock near the shore has depleted, so fishermen go into deep waters. Modernisation of fishing infrastructure is urgently required,” he said.

Six fishermen from Thangachimadam in Ramanathapuram district were fishing near the Katchatheevu islet in the narrow sea dividing the two countries when they were fired at on Monday night, Indian officials said.

One fisherman, K. Britjo, was killed. Another who was injured was warded in a hospital in Tamil Nadu. The others escaped without injuries.

Colombo has denied that the Sri Lankan Navy was involved in the killing and promised a thorough probe in the incident. (IANS)

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Indian Ocean Warming leads to change in the Rainfall Pattern and Groundwater Storage in India

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Monsoon Clouds,. Wikimedia

Kolkata, Jan 10, 2017:  The changing rainfall pattern, which is linked to the warming of the Indian Ocean, is the key factor driving changes in groundwater storage in India. This is reported by a new study led by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Gandhinagar.

Published in the journal Nature Geoscience in January, the study shows that changing monsoon patterns “which are tied to higher temperatures in the Indian Ocean” are an “even greater driver of change” in groundwater storage than the pumping of groundwater for agriculture.

“Groundwater plays a vital role in food and water security in India. Sustainable use of groundwater resources for irrigation is the key for future food grain production,” said study leader Vimal Mishra, of IIT Gandhinagar. “And with a fast-growing population, managing groundwater sustainability is becoming even more important.

The linkage between monsoon rainfall and groundwater can suggest ways to enhance groundwater recharge in India and especially in the regions where rainfall has been declining, such as the Indo-Gangetic Plain,” he added. Groundwater withdrawals in the country have increased over ten-fold since the 1950s, from 10-20 cubic kms per year in 1950 to 240-260 cubic kms per year in 2009. And satellite measurements have shown major decline in groundwater storage in some parts of the country, particularly in northern India, the study notes.

“This study adds another dimension to the existing water management framework. We need to consider not just the withdrawals, but also the deposits in the system,” said Yoshihide Wada, co-author and the deputy director of the Water programme at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.

By looking at water levels in wells around the country, the researchers could track groundwater replenishment following the monsoon. In addition, the researchers found that the monsoon precipitation is correlated with Indian Ocean temperature, a finding which could potentially help to improve precipitation forecasts and aid in water resource planning.

“Weather is uncertain by nature, and the impacts of climate change are extremely difficult to predict at a regional level. But our research suggests that we must focus more attention on this side of the equation if we want to sustain manage water resources for the future”, Wada added. (IANS)