2. ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION AND POLAR SCIENCE

The Antarctic Expedition and Polar Science programme which was initiated in 1981 has since taken shape into a major national programme that has a distinct multi-institutional and multi- disciplinary approach. So far 19 scientific expeditions have been launched on regular basis. These include two expeditions to the southern ocean; one to Weddell Sea and another one for the assess- ment of Antarctic Krill. More than 45 national institutions and about 1200 personnel have so far participated in these expeditions. The remote and inhospitable continent has been used by the Indian scientists as a unique laboratory for conducting scientific investigations which have a direct bearing on the globe as a whole and Geo-political relevance for India in particular.

India has a modern and indigenously built station 'Maitri' in the Schirmacher Oasis.It was set up in 1988 and is equipped to provide comfortable living facilities for 25 persons on a year basis and has several laboratories to carry out multi-faceted research in Antarctic Sciences.

Technical reports and scientific papers that have been published have been compiled and structured by the Department as the Indian National Database on Antarctic Science(INDAS).

By virtue of sustained scientific interest in Antarctica, India acquired Consultative Status in the Antarctic Treaty System as early as in 1983. She is also a member on various international bodies affiliated to the Antarctic Treaty System. India has also been able to decisively influence the outcome of the negotiations leading to the adoption of the protocol on Environmental protection to Antarctica.

The policy of the department is to undertake a carefully balanced and optimum programme of contemporary science through which it is possible to maintain an active and influential presence in the Antarctica. The scientific contents ensure national priorities and also contribute to global issues. Over the years, there has been a distinct impetus on scientific objectives resulting in an increase in the scientific component over the logistics in Antarctic Expeditions.

In order to consolidate our gains from these expeditions, the Department is establishing a state-of-the-art polar research laboratory namely,Antarctic Study Centre,at Goa. Further, in order to continue to play a perceptible role internationally in Antarctic sciences, a distinct thrust has also been provided to bilateral/ multilateral scientific cooperation by way of participation in international scientific campaigns addressing pertinent global issues.

The scientific and logistic tasks accomplished by the Sixteenth Expedition (1996-97) and the objectives set for the Seventeenth Expedition launched in December, 1997 are enumerated below:

2.1 Sixteenth Expedition
2.2 Seventeenth Expedition
2.3 Antarctic Study Centre