| Manmohan Singh: On a new path
London, Sept. 17: Manmohan Singh, who will pass through London on Monday for talks with Tony Blair, will focus on Indo-British scientific cooperation, the Indian high commissioner in London, Kamlesh Sharma, told a meeting of distinguished scientists at the Royal Society last night.
Sharma was speaking at a gathering held at the society's Carlton House Terrace headquarters to honour the Bangalore-based Indian chemist, C..R. Rao, 'who has written over 1,000 papers, 36 books and has 32 honorary doctorates'.
To prepare the groundwork for the Prime Minister's visit, Sharma had intensive discussions yesterday with David King, Blair's chief scientific adviser.
'King came up with some splendid ideas,' said Sharma, who explained that the two Prime Ministers would discuss the sharing of 'intellectual capital'.
According to Rao, Singh will tell Blair he is reconstituting the scientific advisory committee which was active until 1989 when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister.
Rao, who headed the committee at the time, left The Telegraph with the strong impression that he expected to play a leading role in it, though he would not say whether he expected to be its head again.
It is clear there is much discussion among top Indian scientists about the direction in which Indian scientific progress should proceed. 'I have just taken a call in my hotel room from my very good friend, Bikash Sinha (the Calcutta-based nuclear scientist),' Rao revealed.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Rao ' 'I have been a fellow of the Royal Society for 24-25 years' ' gave his opinion on whether India should build more nuclear reactors.
This is one of the most controversial issues facing the world's scientists. On one hand, rapidly developing as well as developed nations have to move away from coal-fired generators if they are to meet the requirements of the Kyoto accord on global warming. On the other hand, building nuclear reactors raises a whole host of other problems, not least terrorism and security.
Asked about a recent BBC report that India would need to build at least 25 nuclear reactors, Rao said India was capable of operating its nuclear reactors with perfect safety.
'We can't do without nuclear energy and our scientists are able to do this for themselves,' said Rao, who has long been a member of the Atomic Energy Commission. 'We need an input of 20,000 mw of nuclear energy.'
Rao added that India would 'show the way to the world' when the 500 mw fast breeder reactor near Chennai came onstream. 'The Prime Minister is due to open this,' he said.
As part of the intensifying Indo-British engagement in science, Harry Kroto of Sussex University is flying to India for an education conference in Delhi on October 25, after which he will address large groups of children on the wonder of science in both Bangalore and Hyderabad.
'I am told there will be 25,000 children at these gatherings,' said Kroto, who won the 1996 Nobel Prize for chemistry. 'I shall talk to them about things like sustainable development and how science affects their lives,' he said.
Singh's cabinet will line up at Panchvati ' a conference hall that is part of 7 Race Course Road ' when he departs for London on Sunday. The ceremony over, the Prime Minister will take the helicopter to the international airport.
This follows a system being set in place to avoid ritualistic farewells at the airport, yet wish the Prime Minister well.