India should join CERN as associate member: Physicist Heuer

With neighbour Pakistan becoming the first and the only Asian country to be an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, it is time for India to enroll itself for the same, a top physicist said.

PTI| Updated: Feb 06, 2015, 12:07 PM IST

Kolkata: With neighbour Pakistan becoming the first and the only Asian country to be an associate member of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, it is time for India to enroll itself for the same, a top physicist said.

"I think it's time for India....And that will be great with both the countries becoming associate members of CERN," Director General of CERN, Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer said.

In December, in presence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Ansar Parvez and Heuer signed on the dotted lines which would admit Pakistan to CERN's Associate Membership, subject to ratification by the government of Pakistan.

India, however, was yet to send its application for the associate membership of the world's largest particle physics laboratory, Heuer said.

"No, the application (from India) has not reached us yet but I never lose my optimism...And I expect the application papers this year.

"Procedures are different in different countries. Some take more time while some take less. But as I have said I am optimistic and I also have confidence and I am looking forward to that (the application)... I have still 10 months 25 days to go in my mandate as DG... May be that (would be of) help (to) you (India)," Heuer pointed out.

".....Today in the global road it does not matter whether you are a small or a big country. You have to interact, you have to network internationally. And by having all different types of people at CERN" you are into international club, the CERN Director-General said.

He was in the city to participate in the seventh 'International Conference on Physics and Astro-Physics of Quark Gluon Plasma' (ICPA-QGP).

"For India and many other countries which are members of CERN their scientists can participate in the experiments, they can contribute to the experiment, can analyse the data. But I think that's a small part. What's important that you involve more of the community, more of the country's brains to participate in the endeavour...," Heur pointed out.

For India, the membership would also open doors for mega experiments for its scientists and will enable its industries to participate in bids for CERN contracts across various sectors, he stressed.

"But for that there has to be a political will..," he said.

If India wants to be an associate member of CERN, it would have to pay an annual amount of US $10.7 million.

Atomic Energy Commission of India has already cleared the application procedure but the government is yet to.

Former Homi Bhabha professor Bikash Sinha said, "I like to point out in this regard that the Atomic Energy Commission, which is the apex body for this transaction, has cleared it (application).

"The definition of a Commission in our country is that once it clears that is almost a law. But in this case something happened I don't know why. I tend to share the optimism of Heuer that before he quits, it must be there," he said.

Pakistan, the first Asian country was the third in the world after Turkey and Serbia to be honoured with CERN's associate membership.

"In December the signing happened but I am waiting for the ratification of the Pakistani government which should come this month and then as I officially receive the ratification they (Pakistan) will become an associate member of CERN," the German particle physicist added.

Being an associate member, Pakistan would be able to participate in the governance of CERN attending the meetings of the CERN council.

Besides, it will also allow Pakistani scientists to be members of the CERN staff as well as participate in its training and career-development programmes.

The CERN was founded in 1953 by 12 European countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and erstwhile Yugoslavia.

Other countries like Austria, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovak Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Israel joined afterwards. It now has 21 member states.