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Chancellor Merkel, PM Manmohan Singh, counterparts Annette Schavan and Kapil Sibal flag off the Science Express
© BPA, Steffen Kugler
Strengthening scientific ties: Kapil Sibal visits Germany

July 01, 2008

On a five-day visit to Germany, India’s Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Kapil Sibal, participated as the Guest of Honour at the Festive Assembly of the Max Plank Society (MPS) held on 27th June in Dresden. He also took part in the opening ceremony of the Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau on 29th June.

In his joint address with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Max Planck Society’s Festive Assembly, Sibal commended the excellent, mutually beneficial and wide-ranging cooperation in science and technology between India and Germany. He also mentioned the widely-successful Indo-German Science Express, which attracted over 2 million visitors in India.

The science exhibition on wheels, a joint venture of MPS and India’s Department of Science and Technology, was jointly launched by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chancellor Merkel during her visit to India in 2007. India and Germany had also signed eight agreements for cooperation in science and technology during the Chancellor’s visit.

Chancellor Merkel, in her address, called India a strategic partner for Germany and referred to her warm relations and productive interaction with the Indian Prime Minster. Merkel also lauded the growing and excellent cooperation in different areas between the two countries.

Sibal welcomed the new initiative by MPS to set up partner institutes in India for computer sciences and material sciences. The two sides are currently discussing the framework for setting up the partner institutes, which are to become centres of international excellence attracting the best researchers from India and the world. India and Germany are also looking at cooperation in the field of bio-engineering.

As part of his visit to Germany, Kapil Sibal attended the inauguration of the 58th Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau on 29th June. Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, was also present at the event. Since 2001, India’s Department of Science and Technology sends young scientists, selected from all over India, to attend the meeting of the Nobel Laureates at Lindau. This year, together with 500 other young researchers from over 60 countries, 23 young Indian researchers will listen to lectures given by Nobel laureates and hold discussions with them in small seminar groups or during the programme, from 29th June to 4th July.

Lindau is a small island town on Lake Constance in the southwestern part of Germany. Every year this island comes alive to host the Meeting of Nobel laureates – providing a scenic interface for the interaction among Nobel laureates, young scientists and students who aspire to be scientists, from all over the world.

In his address to the young scientists Sibal urged the Indian students to benefit from the interaction and learn how Germany had achieved excellence in research and technology and translated it to the economic benefit of its people. Minister Schavan emphasised the importance of partnership with India in the field of Science and Technology.

Schavan is due to visit India in September on Sibal's invitation to attend the 50th Anniversary of IIT-Madras, which was set up with Germany as a partner country. During the visit the two Ministers will launch the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre. The German Minister of Education & Research has already visited India twice.

Traditionally India has been a close partner of Germany in the field of science and research. Science, technology and engineering are key pillars of Indo-German relations. Indo-German research programmes have covered a broad variety of fields including space research, nanotechnology and energy.

In February 2008, the India’s Department of Science and Technology and the Humboldt Foundation signed a Science Cooperation Agreement in Berlin. Regular science conferences and research opportunities in both the countries are the main elements of this agreement. The conferences which take place alternately in both the countries provide an opportunity to the scientists to gain much needed insights into the current scenario of science in their partner country.

On the occasion of the 2007 EU-India science summit organised under the German EU presidency in New Delhi, India became partner in the €1.2 billion Facility of Antiproton and Ion research (FAIR) project. A large number of research projects, between India and Germany, are supported by organisations such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). At the same time, world class Germany research institutions like the Max Planck Institutes and Fraunhofer Institutes are active in India.

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by Swati Sharma
© German Information Centre New Delhi
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