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An Indian Outpost Near the North

August 2008
An Indian Outpost Near the North

Question: What exactly is Himadri?

(a) A line of masala packets. (b) Stands for the Higher Himalayas. (c) Indian name used by males. (d) India’s only Arctic research station.

Answer: All of the above, although it’s (d) that’s been in the news lately.

Just last month, India became the world’s eleventh nation to operate a fully equipped, year-round scientific research facility in the Arctic region, situated about 745 miles from the North Pole, in a heritage building that was once a school for the children of coal miners in the town of Ny-Alesund, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. Research fields for scientists based in this frozen archipelago include marine science, aurora and atmospheric physics, geodetic studies, glaciology, terrestrial studies, and climate change. Though India’s Arctic program began a year ago with five scientists, it has long had a presence in Antartica, where there’s an Indian research station called Maitri. “Antartica is an area of discovery, the Arctic is an area of cooperation,” Minister Kapil Sibal noted at the inauguration of Himadri. “The coal in this town is an added value from nature. Leaves turn into coal and ultimately even diamonds. Nature adds value and we must do the same as human beings.”

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