Director's Corner

9 March 2006


Barry Barish
Meeting the President of India

One reason for our holding a GDE meeting in India is to provide an opportunity to explore the possibility of Indian participation in both the GDE and ILC R&D program. These discussions will hopefully be a first step toward an eventual full partnership for India on the ILC. Several of us have come to India in advance of the Bangalore GDE Workshop, specifically to meet with government officials, and to visit Indian institutions and laboratories.

President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

The highlight of our government visits was a one-hour visit with the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss collaboration on the ILC. In addition to myself, our delegation consisted of Jonathan Dorfan (SLAC Director), Albrecht Wagner (DESY Director), Pier Oddone (Fermilab Director), Bob Kephart (Fermilab) and Shekhar Mishra (Fermilab). Shekhar arranged for the meeting, and we were also accompanied by Indian physicist, Professor RK Shivpuri of Delhi University.

Our meeting with the President was very interactive and stimulating. He had read materials that were sent to him; he had previously visited CERN, and he recently attended a meeting in India on grid computing. The discussions had a wide range, but he made several important points. First, it was clear that the President resonates with the kind of science we do and especially with our goals of answering the "big questions." He told us an anecdote about a recent visit to a school, where some of the students asked him very probing questions about the universe. He commented what a worthy human endeavor it is to try to understand such questions. On a more practical level, the President asked us questions about the goals of the ILC and how they relate to what will be done at the LHC, our needs for computing to bring the data to India, other possible applications of ILC technology that might be beneficial for India, and more generally, what are the benefits to India in participating?

Our meeting was at the Presidential Palace, an impressive very large sandstone building. Following the meeting, we adjourned outside for a group photos (see today’s image of the week) and for a walk through the beautiful and blooming Presidential garden.

In addition to our meeting with the President, we had very productive meetings in Delhi with Prof. V. S. Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST) and some of his associates. We also had a meeting with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in Mumbai.

The meeting with Dr. Ramamurthy explored how to develop broad Indian participation and how to identify technical areas in which Indian scientists can learn, contribute and bring technological know-how back to India. He made it clear that these points are very important to him. We talked about identifying Indian scientists who could participate as GDE members and also the value of sending young scientists to our laboratories to learn the physics and technologies of the ILC.

The meeting with Dr. Kakodkar occurred after we had visited the principle Indian institutions and laboratories. This provided us with a good opportunity to discuss specific areas in which India can contribute to the ILC R&D and design efforts which are consistent with the skills and interests that we have identified during our visit. Dr. Kakodkar expressed enthusiastic support for our approach to involve India in specific short term R&D work and to nominate two Indian physicists to become members of the GDE. He explored with us how participation will help train scientists, including in accelerator physics, and he expressed special interest in how industry will be brought into our project.

It is fair to conclude that there is significant interest in India at the government level in supporting our hopes of bringing India into the ILC R&D and GDE efforts as full partners. I will write about our meetings with Indian scientists and visits to their laboratories next week.