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Science alliance strengthened during Merkel’s India visit

By T. V. Padma, IANS

New Delhi : The deepening and strengthening scientific collaboration between India and Germany, that included the setting up of a joint science and technology centre here, was in some ways overshadowed by the media focus on the nuclear deal during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit this week.

The two nations have agreed to enhance collaboration and networking across a range of issues, with a focus on reducing the impact of climate change and developing clean energy technologies, according to the science portal www.scidev.net.

During the visit, the two countries committed $14.5 million each over the next five years to set up a joint science and technology centre.

Indian Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and German Minister for Education and Research Annete Schavan also signed six memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on research collaboration in advanced materials, energy, biomedical technologies and promoting scientist exchange programmes.

The Indo-German Science and Technology Centre will be located in New Delhi and foster collaboration with Indian industry and scientific institutes.

Public-private partnerships are expected to cover much of the project costs, says Yash Pal Kumar, head of the international science and technology cooperation division of India’s Department of Science and Technology.

One of the centre’s first projects will be on “lean manufacturing” – making lighter and stronger components to lower industry costs and enhance efficiency. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi and Germany’s Technical University Darmstardt will collaborate on this.

India and Germany also agreed to set up an Indian version of Germany’s Max Planck Institute, consisting of a network of centres of excellence across universities and scientific institutes that already collaborate with the original Max Planck Institute.

This will allow Indian scientists who have benefitted from Max Planck science fellowships to maintain links with their host German scientific institutes. Indian researchers make up the largest foreign group of scholars in international Max Planck research schools.

Under the MoUs, research on clean, alternative energy sources will be conducted by Anna University in Chennai in India together with the Technical University Darmstadt in Germany.

Germany’s Helmholtz Association and the Indian Council of Medical Research along with Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi will collaborate on infectious disease research.

India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany will conduct polar and marine science research.

The two countries also issued a joint statement agreeing on the need to find effective, practical solutions to address climate change, including mitigation and adaptation strategies to support the economic and social development of developing countries.