India and the UK today clinched two new key agreements on solar energy and nano technology as part of their wider science and technology cooperation. Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, met his UK counterpart, Jo Johnson, here for the fifth Indo-UK Science and Innovation Council meeting today to establish the India-UK Networked Centre on Solar Energy. “The UK is among themost important countries where we have a very dynamic engagement. In India, we are taking up renewable energy in a big way, and in the solar area we will have an even more active engagement with the UK now,” he told reporters at the Indian High Commission today.
Describing his UK visit as “very successful and upbeat”, he elaborated on the new solar pact as being focused on research projects around micro-grid systems for connectivity of remote areas.
India will be investing Rs 50 crore over a period of five years in the network, with matching contribution from Research Council UK under the ‘Newton Bhabha’ program.
The council also announced access to Indian researchers to the Neutron Scattering facility of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford.
“We had a very good meeting with the vice-chancellor and other scholars working in the biomedical field. This tie-up will help us in our Nano mission and development of advanced nano materials. India is currently third in the world in terms of nano technology,” the minister said.
Science and Technology (S&T) is seen by both governments as among the most important elements in India-UK bilateral cooperation, which started with signing of the inter- governmental S&T agreement in 1996.
In 2006, a new orientation was given to S&T cooperation with setting up of the Science and Innovation Council (SIC).
The SIC, headed by the science ministers of India and UK, is the apex body to review overall bilateral scientific cooperation and it is held once in two years, alternatively in India and the UK.
The fourth SIC meeting was held in November 2014 in New Delhi, co-chaired by Dr Harsh Vardhan and Rt Hon. Greg Clark MP, then UK Minister for Universities, Science and Cities.
The ‘Newton Bhabha’ initiative was signed during that meeting.
The fifth meeting took place in London today, which covered a wide range of topics.