India Set to Become Associate Member State of CERN

At an event on Nov. 21, Fabiola Gianotti, CERN’s director general, and Sekhar Basu, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission and secretary of the country’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), signed an agreement admitting India to CERN as an Associate Member.

“For over 50 years, India has been a strong partner in CERN’s scientific activities,” says Gianotti. “For instance, Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have made substantial contributions to the construction of the LHC accelerator and to the ALICE and CMS experiments, as well as to accelerator R&D projects. I am very happy to welcome India as a new Associate Member State and I’m looking forward to enhanced cooperation on CERN’s exciting scientific and technology programs.”

India’s Associate Membership will strengthen the long-term partnership between CERN and the Indian scientific community, according to a statement issued by CERN, and Associate Membership will allow India to take part in meetings of the CERN Council and its committees (Finance Committee and Scientific Policy Committee). It will also make Indian scientists eligible for staff appointments.

The Government of India still needs to notify CERN of its final approval for the agreement to be enforced. Once this occurs, Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, opening up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.

“India has been putting efforts to design, develop and utilize various types of electron and proton accelerators for scientific, industrial and societal use,” says Basu. “Becoming Associate Member of CERN will enhance participation of young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programs. It will also provide opportunities to Indian industries to participate directly in CERN Projects.”

India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement in 1991, setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation, but India’s relationship with the organization dates back much further, initially through cooperation with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, whose high-energy physicists have been actively participating in experiments at CERN since the 1960s. Researchers from the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore, then joined in the 1990s, and these and other institutes have built components for the LEP accelerator and the L3, WA93 and WA89 detectors. The scientists have also participated in important physics projects and publications throughout the years.

These developments paved the way, in 1996, for the Indian Atomic Energy Commission to agree to take part in the construction of the LHC, and to contribute to the CMS and ALICE experiments and to the LHC Computing Grid with Tier-2 centers in Mumbai and Kolkata. In recognition of these substantial contributions, India was granted observer status to the CERN Council in 2002. The success of the DAE-CERN partnership regarding the LHC has also led to cooperation on novel accelerator technologies through DAE’s participation in CERN’s Linac4, SPL and CTF3 projects, and CERN’s contribution to DAE’s programs. India also participates in the COMPASS, ISOLDE and nTOF experiments.