India joins CERN as an associate member

India joins CERN as an associate member

India joins CERN as an associate member India will now have the right to speak in basic science experiments at the Geneva-based European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the world’s largest particle physics laboratory – that discovered the elusive Higgs Boson or the God particle.

On Monday, India moved away from being an observer to become an associate member state in an agreement signed by the Department of Atomic Energy and CERN. With this, the country joins associate member states of Turkey, Ukraine, Cyprus, Pakistan and Serbia.

With the exception of not being able to vote, India as an associate member state will sit on the CERN council and have a stronger voice in scientific and finance meetings.

India will also have to contribute 11.5 million Swiss francs every year to the capital or to the operating costs of CERN’s programmes, which the country did not have to as an observer member. The amount is 10% of 1.1billion Swiss francs of CERN’s annual budget paid by 20 European member states that are part of the governing council.

“This is a historic day; a win-win situation,” said Fabiola Gianotti, director general, CERN, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). “India has been contributing in an important way by participating in experiments, and technology to build components. The goal now is to expand collaboration in new technology and experiments, and increase opportunities to train teachers and students.”

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.

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.