New Delhi: A delegation from Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), Geneva, started its tour of India to report to the CERN Council about India’s institutional and scientific strengths to become an associate member of this leading high energy physics laboratory. It started its governmental and scientific interactions in Delhi on 22 February by calling on Union Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan.

Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Ashutosh Sharma and other senior officials from both the sides discussed details at these meetings. The delegation later met Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh and apprised them about the long-standing collaboration between Indian institutions and CERN and the long history of India-CERN engagement.

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They said that CERN greatly valued this long-standing partnership. The two ministers also expressed the hope that the cooperation would get further deepened with India becoming an associate member, the approval for which had already been granted by the government last year.

Once India becomes an associate member,

  • the local industry will be able to bid for CERN contracts, thus opening up opportunities in areas of advanced technologies;
  • technology transfer will be facilitated; Indian scientists will be able to get appointments in CERN for longer periods;
  • India will be able to participate in scientific decision-making to a greater degree;
  • Indian students and post-doctoral fellows will have much greater opportunities to participate in CERN’s schools, workshops, summer programmes, etc.

CERN is a provisional body founded in 1952 with the mandate of establishing a world class fundamental physics research organization in Europe. At that time, pure physics research concentrated on understanding the inside of the atom, hence the word “nuclear”.

Later, the task force members also visited the Inter-University Accelerator Centre (IUAC) in New Delhi and interacted with university scientists. They also had a look at the accelerator development and allied research activities being carried out there. The task force left for Mumbai in the evening on the second leg of their India visit.

An associate membership of CERN is the stage prior to its membership. Serbia, Turkey and Pakistan are associate members of CERN already.

The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding states Belgium, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia, and entered into force on 29 September 1954. The organization was subsequently joined by Austria (1959), Spain (1961-1969, re-joined 1983), Portugal (1985), Finland (1991), Poland (1991), Czechoslovak Republic (1992), Hungary (1992), Bulgaria (1999) and Israel (2014). The Czech Republic and Slovak Republic re-joined CERN after their mutual independence in 1993. Yugoslavia left CERN in 1961. Today CERN has 21 member states, and Romania is a Candidate for accession to membership, which is expected to enter into force in the near future.

With inputs from CERN’s website