India joins CERN as an associate member

November 23, 2016 05:09 am | Updated 05:09 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The magnet core of the world’s largest superconducting solenoid magnet  at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

The magnet core of the world’s largest superconducting solenoid magnet at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

India on Monday became an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory and best known as operator of the Large Hadron Collider, which found the elusive Higgs boson in 2012.

India was inducted as an ‘Observer’ at CERN in 2004. The latest upgrade allows Indian companies to bid for lucrative engineering contracts and Indians can apply for staff positions at the organisation.

The associate membership would cost India CHF (Swiss Franc) 11.5 million (approximately Rs. 78 crore) annually though it still wouldn’t have voting rights on decisions of the Council. “Most decisions of the Council proceed by consensus but the most significant outcome is that our industry can bid for developing sophisticated equipment, software and instruments,” said Arun Srivastava, Secretary, Atomic Energy Commission.

Operational from January

The agreement was signed on Monday by Sekhar Basu, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), and CERN Director General Fabiola Gianotti in Mumbai.

The Union Cabinet had cleared India’s participation last year and though the deal was signed on Monday, it will formally become a member around January after depositing an instrument of ratification.

“We can choose to apply for full membership after two years or continue with this status for five years,” Mr. Srivastava told The Hindu .

CERN is based in Geneva on the French-Swiss border. It has 22 member states and four associate member states and other associate members transitioning to full member status.

Associate members pay about 10 per cent what full members pay.

Active involvement

Though India was invited to be member of CERN at least two years ago, it tarried. Incidentally, Pakistan became an associate member of the body in 2014. This, even though India’s association with CERN goes back decades with an active involvement in the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in the areas of design, development and supply of hardware accelerator components/systems and its commissioning and software development and deployment in the machine.

Indian scientists have played a significant role in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, one of the two large experiments that led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson.

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