U.S.-India Bilateral Cooperation on Science and Technology
Science and technology cooperation strengthens the U.S.-India strategic partnership by promoting economic growth and enhancing the well being of our citizens. While government policies aim to create an enabling environment for joint research and the commercialization of that research, we also work to foster ties with the private sector and at the scientist-to-scientist and institution-to-institution level, which are critical to the long-term sustainability of our science and technology partnership. A number of recent developments highlight the strong momentum in our science, technology, and innovation cooperation:
Science and Technology
Second Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation: The United States hosted a second U.S.-India Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation in Washington on June 11, 2012. The U.S. and India Joint Commission for Science and Technology Cooperation is working to finalize a new 2012-2014 Action Plan to enhance cooperation over the next two years, and recently established three new standing expert working groups to implement activities in the following areas: basic and applied sciences, health and medical sciences, and atmospheric, environment, and earth sciences. The second Joint Commission meeting featured thematic discussions on policy initiatives to strengthen bilateral research cooperation and best practices for retaining and advancing women in science. The U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment Board also reported its progress. The Endowment Board, established by Secretary Clinton and Minister Krishna in 2009, announced in May the Board’s first grant recipients for entrepreneurial projects that commercialize technologies to improve health and empower citizens. In preparation for this meeting, the United States and India also held several workshops June 8 to explore ways the United States and India can work together to build innovative capacity and technology commercialization and to foster science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) Project: India committed more than $100 million to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)-led consortium that is developing a 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, potentially one of the world’s most-powerful telescopes. The Indian consortium partners include the Indian Institute for Astrophysics, the Inter-University Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Araybhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences. The Indian government’s latest step makes it a 10-percent shareholder in the consortium, providing it Partner status alongside institutions from Canada, Japan, and China. Then-Minister of Science and Technology Chavan announced India’s decision to join the TMT Project as an observer in June 2010.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Fermilab “Project X”: DOE and India’s Department of Atomic Energy signed an Implementing Agreement on Discovery Science that would provide the framework for India’s participation at Fermilab in the research, development and construction of a next-generation, high-intensity superconducting radio frequency proton accelerator, also known as “Project X/HISPA.” The resulting facility will be used by U.S. and Indian scientists for research in particle physics and other related fields.
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO): The United States’ LIGO Laboratory and India’s Indian Initiative in Gravitational Observations (IndIGO) are jointly working on a plan to create a world-class gravitational wave detector in India. India will contribute $250 million (with $150 million to be spent during India’s 12th five-year plan, commencing April 1, 2012) toward implementation of this project in India. The United States will provide the interferometer components to be placed in the host facility in India. The placement of this detector in India will greatly enhance a wide network of detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan to test fundamental physics in the form of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and to study some of the most unusual astronomical objects in our universe – black holes, neutron stars, and supernovas – and possibly shed light on the Big Bang.
Science and Engineering Research Board: The United States and India are eager to share science and technology knowledge and experience to enhance research capacity and infrastructure. The United States National Science Foundation (NSF) is receiving visitors from India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST) and the National Science and Engineering Research Board (NSERB) who are interested in learning more about NSF processes including merit review as DST develops an NSERB to be modeled after the NSF. Prime Minister Singh announced plans to establish the NSERB in December 2008.
The Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum: The Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum (IUSSTF) was endowed in 2000 with PL-480 funds to facilitate bilateral scientific cooperation by funding exchanges, workshops, and joint research projects. Over the past ten years the IUSSTF has facilitated travel of more than 11,000 scientists between the United States and India, established 24 virtual joint research centers and organized more than 30 training programs and 150 bilateral conferences, many of which have resulted in long-term partnerships. IUSSTF serves as a secretariat for U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy and U.S.-India S&T Endowment Board.
- U.S.-India Dialogue on Women in Science (WIS) Issues: WIS is a priority area for engagement between the United States and India, and both countries discussed cooperation in this area at the U.S.-India Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation on June 11, 2012. The joint statement of the 2011 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue prioritized WIS as an area for bilateral engagement. Embassy New Delhi’s annual workshops in 2009, 2010, and 2011 in association with India’s Department of Science & Technology identified areas for collaboration on WIS issues. The upcoming 2012 WIS workshop will focus on best-enabling practices for women in science. The United States, India, and Brazil co-sponsored an event focusing WIS on the sidelines of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2011.
U.S.-India S&T Endowment Board: In May 2012, Secretary Clinton and Minister Deshmukh announced the first grantee award of the U.S.-India S&T Endowment Board, which was established in 2009 with an annual budget of $2 to $3 million per year to promote commercialization of innovative technologies in part through grants of up to $500,000 for jointly-developed technology solutions with the potential to improve health and empower citizens in both countries. The first-round winner and runners up include a partnership to create a cold-chain storage solution to keep farmers’ produce fresh, the development of a shoe to help Parkinson’s sufferers to walk, and metabolic screening for newborns. The Board has established a biannual process to solicit proposals and has selected six finalists for the second round of awards.
Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD): On June 9, 2012, the first direct U.S.-India advanced science and education network began supporting enormous data flows between the United States and the science center of India in Bangalore. Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation—and as part of a public-private partnership featuring a $6M contribution by Tata Communications and housed by the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) of the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Bangalore—the new link is part of the NSF-funded advanced global GLORIAD network. GLORIAD is designed to support the most advanced big-data research today, as well as education and health-related research, and its Indian partners at the ICTS are also launching the first open, science-driven, science-managed network exchange in India.
Millennium Alliance: In May 2012, the Indian Government pledged $5 million toward the Millennium Alliance, a joint initiative announced in December 2011 by USAID and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) that will identify, support, and scale innovative, game-changing, and cost-effective solutions to the base of the pyramid development challenges in India and around the world. USAID has contributed $7.7 million to the Alliance, which is being matched by FICCI, with the goal of raising $50 million in the coming year.
Open Government Platform: As part of the India-U.S. Dialogue on Open Government launched in November 2010, the two countries in March jointly launched an open-source web portal called the “Open Government Platform” (OGPL), which will be provided to third countries later this year, starting with Rwanda. Leveraging the ICT strengths and the democratic commitment to robust civic engagement of both India and the United States, this open-source platform will provide public access to government information via a user-friendly website. The open source code for OGPL was released into the public domain May 21, 2012.
- U.S.-India Innovation Exchange: Then-U.S. Chief Technology Officer Chopra in November 2011 attended the Government of India’s “Global Innovation Roundtable,” which included participants from 15 governments and highlighted innovation’s role in addressing economic growth and development challenges. During the June 2010 U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Minister of External Affairs S. M. Krishna announced the U.S.-India Innovation Exchange. The first delegation under the Exchange traveled to India in September 2010. India plans to host a second Global Innovation Roundtable in November of this year.
- U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation: Both countries are committed to using their space programs to expand the frontiers of scientific knowledge and produce tangible benefits for their populations. By exchanging and utilizing satellite-based scientific data about the Earth, its climate, weather, and geophysical features, the United States and India are working together to share information on ocean winds, tropical weather and monsoons, and climate change for a number of applications, including improved agricultural productivity. The bilateral Civil Space Working Group last met in July 2011, with a follow-up discussion on Earth Science in December 2011. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed an implementing agreement in March 2012 that formalized the exchange of data obtained from instruments onboard ISRO’s Oceansat 2 satellite. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and ISRO signed implementing agreements in March 2012 that formalized the exchange of data obtained from the Oceansat-2 and the Global Precipitation Measurement/Megha-Tropiques satellite missions.