“This collaboration has been vital in achieving a broad range of shared goals, including sustaining economic growth and job creation; allowing our citizens to live longer, healthier lives; developing clean sources of energy; and protecting our environment for future generations” stated official press release of state department.
The U.S.-India Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2005, established the Joint Committee meeting (JCM) to plan, coordinate, monitor, and facilitate bilateral cooperation in science and technology. The JCM biennially convenes leaders from both countries to provide strategic guidance for our S&T initiatives.
The Commission, co-chaired by the Science Advisor to the U.S. President and the Indian Minister of Science and Technology, has met twice, in June 2010 and in June 2012. The Joint Commission developed an action plan for 2012-2014 that includes joint projects, joint workshops, exchange visits of scientists, and establishment of virtual networking in various disciplines such as basic and applied sciences; atmospheric, environmental and earth sciences; health and medical sciences; data sharing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education; innovation; and women in science.
To realize the potential of science and technology, India and the United States maintain active engagement aimed at fostering cooperative cutting edge research and building public-private partnerships that support technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship.
Working Together on Cutting Edge Science Research and Development
Under the auspices of an agreement signed in July 2011 between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the DOE and the DAE are exploring collaborative mechanisms to develop next-generation, high-intensity superconducting radio frequency proton accelerators and enhance cooperation in related physics research.
Tackling the Scourge of Diabetes
Approximately 62 million Indians and 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Under a 2012 agreement between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Indian Council of Medical Research are conducting cooperative research aimed at developing a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying diabetes and identifying innovative solutions to prevent and treat the disease. A joint workshop on this subject was organized by ICMR and NIDDK in partnership with the India-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF).
Through a unique U.S.-India social innovation partnership involving the U.S. National Institutes of Health, India’s Department of Biotechnology, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PATH, Bharat Biotech, Stanford University, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and a range of other public and private partners, collaborators recently released the results of a Phase 3 clinical trial involving a new rotavirus vaccine: ROTAVAC®. Positive results from the Phase III clinical trial, involving more than 6,000 participants in India, showed that ROTAVAC® has an excellent safety and efficacy profile, and could be recognized as the first entirely new vaccine developed within India in over 100 years.
Low-Cost Medical Technologies
The U.S. National Institutes of Health signed two Joint Statements in 2013 with India’s Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology. The Joint Statements are intended to initiate new areas of bilateral scientific collaboration focused on the development of low-cost, diagnostic, and therapeutic medical devices, and to continue such existing collaboration.
Joint Astronomy to Better Understand Our Solar System
Through a partnership between the U.S. Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory Laboratory and the Indian Initiative in Gravitational Observations (IndIGO) and other institutes in India, both sides are working to build a world-class gravitational wave detector in India that will greatly enhance a network of detectors under construction in the United States, Europe, and Japan to study gravitational waves emanating from some of the most cataclysmic events in our universe – black holes, neutron stars, and supernovas. This research may improve our understanding of the Big Bang. India has proposed realizing this goal in its Twelfth and future Five-year Frameworks.
Collaborating on Innovative Science and Technology Research
The United States and the Indian Department of Science & Technology (DST) endowed the India-U.S. Science & Technology Forum (IUSSTF) in 2000 with matching funds to facilitate mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in science, engineering, and health. Over the past ten years, the IUSSTF has facilitated more than 12,000 interactions between Indian and U.S. scientists. In 2012-2013, IUSSTF supported over 30 bilateral workshops, four advanced schools, 10 virtual joint research centers, three innovation/technology transfer programs, and dozens of student and faculty fellowships. The IUSSTF, in partnership with the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Science and Engineering Research Board, has supported 35 U.S. and 100 Indian students for summer internships in U.S. and Indian academic/research institutions respectively. The Khorana Technology Tranfer course was launched during July 2012 in partnership with DBT for training of Indian scientists on U.S. best practices on technology management. In April 2013, IUSSTF held its fifth U.S.-India Frontiers of Science symposium involving 60 young Indian and U.S. scientists, and plans are underway for the 2014 U.S.-India Frontiers of Engineering. Both events are done in partnership with the U.S. National Academies to nurture linkages among young leading scientists and engineers.
Linking Research and Education
India established its Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) in 2008. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) continues to receive visitors from SERB and India’s Department of Science & Technology interested in learning more about NSF’s merit review processes. In January 2013, the U.S. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering signed an agreement with SERB at the IUSSTF board meeting to launch a new jointly funded collaborative research program on hypertension. DST and NSF are discussing plans to partner through NSF’s Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide, which focuses on providing U.S. Graduate Research Fellows opportunities for enhanced professional development through research collaborations in top caliber research environments in India. SERB has initiated the S.N. Bose Scholar program, implemented by IUSSTF, providing fellowships to 50 Indian and 30 U.S. students for internships at S&T institutions in each other’s country. The NSF in partnership with the Indian Department of Science and Technology, has also launched a Virtual R&D Network Joint Center in the area of mathematics and statistics covering exchange of faculty, students, postdocs, and joint workshops involving Indian and U.S. universities. NSF and DST are also working on summer internship program for U.S. students in Indian universities to be launched in 2013 under EAPSI program.
Cooperation in Clean Energy
Recognizing the need to address climate change, ensure mutual energy security, and build a clean energy economy that drives investment, job creation, and economic growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama launched the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) under the U.S.-India Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation on energy security, energy efficiency, clean energy, and climate change. The MOU was signed on November 24, 2009 during Prime Minister Singh’s visit to the United States. As a priority initiative under the PACE umbrella, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Government of India signed an agreement to establish the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC) on November 4, 2010 during President Obama’s visit to India. The overall aim of the JCERDC is to facilitate joint innovative research and development through public-private consortia in the three priority areas: Solar Energy, Building Energy Efficiency, and Second-Generation Biofuels in multi-institutional public-private partnerships. The JCERDC is funded by the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program is being administered in India by the India-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF). Three consortia namely (1) Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS); (2) U.S.-India Joint Centre for Building Energy Research and Development (CBERD); and (3) U.S.-India Consortium for development of Sustainable Advanced Lignocellulosic Biofuel Systems (SALBS), with more than 80 academic and industrial partners, were launched during 2013.
Promoting Women in Science and Technology
In 2010, the United States and India identified “Women in Science” as a priority area for bilateral engagement. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, in partnership with IUSSTF and DST, has jointly convened annual workshops to advance this initiative since 2009. These workshops have identified mentoring and networking of women science professionals in both countries as areas for bilateral engagement. The IUSSTF has elevated this issue to a flagship program. In December 2012, both sides established a standing steering committee to develop women in science initiatives and convened a workshop to share best practices for promoting women in science professions under the auspices of the U.S.-India Joint Committee meeting on science and technology cooperation. In May 2013, the U.S. Department of State led a delegation of U.S. technology executives to India to learn about challenges and opportunities for women in the Indian Information and Communication Technology sector. An Indian delegation will visit the United States for discussions with concerned agencies to develop a long-term sustainable program in this area.
Developing the World’s Most Powerful Telescope
Since 2010, India has committed to contribute as a member in the Thirty Meter Telescope to a California Institute of Technology-led consortium that is developing one of the world’s most powerful telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The Indian consortium partners include the Indian Institute for Astrophysics, the Inter-University Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics, and the Araybhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences. The State of Hawaii granted a building permit for the project in April 2013.
Funding Joint Projects to Leverage S&T Capacity for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Established in 2009 with an annual budget of $2 to $3 million per year, the Science and Technology Endowment Board (STEB) promotes commercialization of jointly developed innovative technologies with the potential for positive societal impact. Projects focus on improving health and empowering citizens. To date, STEB has awarded four grants, two in the health area (a mobile phone-based diabetes diagnostic and a device to manage fecal incontinence) and two in empowering citizens (improved refrigeration for transporting agricultural products from field to market and providing financial services for the unbanked). This year, seven proposals made it to the final stage of review. Five new awards are being announced on the margins of the 4th U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi on June 24, 2013.
Public-Private Partnership to Harness Data Networks
On June 9, 2012, the first direct U.S.-India advanced science and education network began supporting enormous data flows between the United States and the science center of India in Bangalore. The project, part of the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD), is a jointly funded public-private partnership between the NSF and Tata Communications, and is housed at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences of the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Bangalore. Since connecting India to GLORIAD, Bangalore scientists have become engaged in an international challenge to improve patient care using genomics data and moving an unprecedented three terabytes of data in a single download with partners at the Harvard Medical School.
Scaling up Innovation to Solve Global Development Challenges
In May 2012, the Indian Government, through the Department of Science and Technology, pledged $5 million toward the Millennium Alliance (MA), a joint initiative between USAID and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) that is working to identify, support, and scale innovative, game-changing, and cost-effective solutions to developmental challenges in India and around the world. To date, USAID has contributed $7.7 million to the Alliance, which is being matched by FICCI. In September 2012, the MA issued a call for concept notes that led to 1,400 submissions. The MA partners announced the first nine awardees on the margins of the Strategic Diaogue on June 24, 2013.
Arsenic Removal from Drinking Water
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is leading a multi-stakeholder engagement to develop models for providing safe drinking water in rural areas, one of the national water strategy priorities. Technology providers, Government of India Ministries, nongovernment organizations, and financing parties will engage to deploy the latest arsenic mitigation technologies in a 25-village cluster affecting approximately 125,000 people as a pilot program in early 2014, with U.S. companies providing the technology and knowhow.
Making Governments More Transparent and Accessible
The United States and India announced in July 2011 the launch of an open-source software platform with the goal of combining elements of both countries’ respective open-government sites that house government data. The Open Government Platform (OGPL) enhances data transparency and citizen engagement by making more government data, documents, tools, and processes publicly available through a freely available, open source platform. Through the availability of these data in useful machine-readable formats, innovators, developers, media specialists, and academics can develop new applications and insights that will give citizens more information to make better decisions, and most importantly, spur innovation and create economic opportunity. The United States and India have worked with Ghana and Rwanda on pilot projects.
Advancing Plant Health Systems in India and South Asia Project
As part of the efforts under the U.S.-India Agricultural Dialogue, USAID/India’s Agriculture and Food Security Program launched a Participating Agency Service Agreement with the FAS/Office of Capacity Building and Development to provide technical assistance and training to strengthen the institutional capacity of India’s National Institute of Plant Heath Management (NIPHM). This training should enable NIPHM to become an International Plant Protection Convention recognized leader for training the international plant health community in South Asia and improve the capacity of India’s Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen quarantine facilities. The outcome encourages collaboration on research projects and strengthens the plant health management and bio-security network in South Asian countries.
Expanding Civil Space Cooperation
The U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group held its fourth meeting in Washington, DC, on March 21, 2013. The Joint Working Group engaged in a broad range of discussions and endorsed expanded work in a number of areas including measures to improve the use of earth observation data to promote sustainable development and promote the compatibility and the interoperability between the U.S. Global Positioning System and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. Under agreements signed in March 2012, NASA, the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are cooperating on ISRO’s Oceansat-2 mission and the Global Precipitation Measurement and ISRO-French Space Agency Megha Tropiques missions. NASA and ISRO signed an agreement for activities related to India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. Further, NASA and ISRO are pursuing discussions on the potential development of a joint dual frequency (L & S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging Satellite Mission. The two agencies will also explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and other destinations.
Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Under the 2008 MOU on Earth Observations and Earth Sciences between India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), collaboration includes development of Research Moored Array for African Asian Australian monsoon studies through RAMA moorings and generating useful data to understand the Indian Ocean and changing climate, research on climate variability, tropical cyclones, and monsoons, as well as research on key pelagic fish stocks and harmful algal blooms. A Statement of Intent is currently being produced to facilitate current and future research partnerships in living marine resource research. U.S. and MoES Geological Survey are in the process of finalizing a MOU on earth sciences research that will include collaboration on cropland monitoring and water studies.
Under the 2010 U.S.-India Agricultural Dialogue, a “monsoon desk” at the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) has been established for working together towards improved monsoon prediction. Under the International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), which is steered by NSF, MoES will conduct deep ocean seabed core sample drilling in the Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean utilizing the “JOIDES Resolution” facility. This research is expected to shed light on global climate change and variations in Indian monsoons. Discussions continue on the signing of an MOU between the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and MoES for weather and climate studies that include development of airborne research aircraft.