India and UK’s two new key agreements on solar energy and Nano technology

India and UK confirmed 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, make contact with his UK counterpart, Jo Johnson, for the fifth Indo-UK Science and Innovation Council to establish the India-UK Networked Centre on Solar Energy.

“The UK is among the most 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 informed reporters at the Indian High Commission. Reporting his UK visit as “very successful and upbeat”, he presented on the new solar pact as being emphasized on research projects around micro-grid systems for connectivity of remote areas.

India will be spending Rs 50 crore over a period of 5 years in the network, with matching contribution from Research Council UK under the ‘Newton Bhabha’ program. The council also declared 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 stated.

Science and Technology (S&T) is observed by both governments as among the most important elements in India-UK bilateral cooperation, which started with the signing of the inter- governmental S&T agreement in 1996. In 2006, a new orientation was considered to S&T cooperation with setting up of the Science and Innovation Council (SIC).

The SIC, led 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 conducted 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, which will cover a number of topics.