India became an associate member of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) recently with the Indian government completing its internal approval procedures in respect of the agreement it had signed with CERN on November 21, 2016.
On November 21, 2016, Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director General signed an Agreement to admit India to CERN as an Associate member. But India had to “notify CERN of its final approval for the Agreement to enter into force” and become an associate member, which it did on Monday.
“As an associate member India will have full access to all data generated at CERN. As there are many experiments in CERN, there will be plenty of information available. When we were not an Associate member, India could data only from those experiments where we were participating,” Dr. Basu had said.
“As an associate member, India can participate in all experiments. We may have to pay additional charges for participating in the experiments. We can choose the experiments where India wants to participate,” he further added.
There are other benefits of becoming an associate member. Whenever any CERN facilities get upgraded and go through maintenance, it will provide opportunities for Indian industries to participate. The Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will allow it to work in areas of advanced technology.
India has been actively involved in CERN’s scientific activities for over 50 years. “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 in R&D projects,” said Dr. Gianotti in a CERN release.
In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation. India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then. But India’s involvement in CERN began in the 1960s with researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai participating in experiments at CERN.
In the 1990s scientists from Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore too got involved in CERN experiment. Researchers from TIFR, Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology and other institutes built components for an accelerator (LEP) and detectors (L3, WA93 and WA89).
India was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002. The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding states. Currently, CERN has 22 member states. Besides India, Turkey, Pakistan, Ukraine are associate members and Serbia and Cyprus are associate members in the pre-stage to membership.