India has become an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). The European research organisation, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. The agreement was signed by Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Government of India, and CERN Director General Dr Fabiola Gianotti on November 21.
India will not have a chance to vote unlike CERN’s 22 member states but will have a say in meetings related to finance and research. Indian scientists will also be allowed to participate in CERN projects and bid for tenders. Post-doctoral and staff positions will be available to Indian scientists for a limited duration at CERN said Gianotti.
As an associate member, India will be required to contribute 11.5 million Swiss francs every year to CERN to meet the research centre’s operating costs. Indian can stay as an associate member subject to a review every five years or become a full member in two years. Israel is the only non-European country that has been granted full membership.
India’s relationship with CERN dates back more than 50 years. Since the 60s, physicists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research have been actively participating in experiments. India and CERN first signed a Cooperation Agreement in 1991 setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation and was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002. Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have also contributed to the development of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)–the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider.