It’s official! India has now become an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), which is the largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory in the world.
Sekhar Basu, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and CERN Director General Dr Fabiola Gianotti signed the agreement at the DAE’s office in Mumbai on Monday.
The Union Cabinet had last year green-lit the proposal for the official entry of India into the Geneva-based body. Following this, the CERN Council accepted India as an associate member. A resolution was adopted by the CERN Council to this effect in September this year.
“There are three major activities going on in our laboratory—accelerators, detectors and computing. Indian scientist fraternity is good at all the three areas; hence we have taken decision to upgrade the status,” Gianotti said.
Participation of young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects will now be enhanced. Becoming Associate Member of CERN will will also open opportunities for Indian industries to participate directly in CERN projects, Gianotti said.
For specified requirements of CERN, the industries will now be able to directly bag contracts. Earlier, the supply of required material, components and services was in the form of kind (without any charge). Now, the companies can directly bag the order and provide the services, she added.
India will now also require to contribute a certain amount of money for research activities.
“This would involve annual contribution of 11.5 million swiss frank from Indian government to CERN,” Gianotti said.
There had been criticism within the scientific community over the delay in India accepting the membership.
Pakistan is already an associate member of CERN.
Scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the Universe using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems at CERN.
Presently CERN has 22 member states, four associate member states, and the observer status is given to four states and three International Organisations.
A number of national institutes and universities from India have worked together in forming an active collaboration with CERN.Participation of Indian scientists in CERN dates back to the early 1960s. In 1991, the DAE had signed a formal agreement with CERN, which continues till today.
In 2003, India was awarded the Observer status of CERN, and subsequently invited to join CERN as an associate member.
In recent years, Indian scientists have been involved in several pioneering activities at CERN. India has made significant contributions to the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in the areas of design, development and supply of hardware accelerator components.
Indian scientists have also played a significant role in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments, which is one of the two large experiments that have led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson and have been named a part of the historic discovery.
(With inputs from PTI)