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After the big hug, the hard sell
Science, space in the limelight
Beyond nukes
Areas where India and US
want to cooperate

• Science & technology panel
• Space programme
• Farm research
• Clean energy
• Medical research
• Cyber security
• Maritime security

New Delhi, March 2: India and the US today announced the creation of an overarching body to steer collaborative programmes in science and technology, and “committed to move forward” with agreements that will permit India to launch American satellites.

A joint statement ' an expression of intent ' released after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush listed Indo-US initiatives in agriculture, health and energy, including a near-zero emission-clean coal power project.

India and the US will establish and co-fund a “Bi-National” Science and Technology Commission to generate collaborative partnerships in science and technology and promote industrial research and development.

“This commission is expected to function as an umbrella body to coordinate and give direction to existing bilateral programmes in science and technology,” science and technology secretary Valangiman Ramamurthy said.

“The commission will oversee existing programmes, look at new avenues for possible cooperation and take a view from outside of science and technology,” Ramamurthy said.

The joint statement said the US and India would move forward with agreements that will permit the launch of satellites with US-built components and even US satellites by Indian space launch vehicles.

Indian space officials in Bangalore interpreted the phrase “move forward” as suggesting that more negotiations would need to take place before US-made satellites can fly on Indian launch vehicles. Current export control laws in the US do not allow such launches from India.

The statement said it welcomed the US commerce department’s plan to make “exceptions for items that would otherwise require an export licence to end-users in India engaged solely in civilian activities”. This has sparked speculation whether India’s launch vehicle and satellite centres that are still on the “entity list” and thus do not have routine access to US-made components would be removed from the list.

The joint statement has also announced a knowledge initiative on agriculture with a three-year financial commitment to connect universities and businesses to support research and education.

“The knowledge initiative on agriculture is intended to revive basic and strategic research in agriculture,” said Dr Mruthyunjaya, a senior officer in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

India will also participate in the $1-billion FutureGen, an international public-private partnership to develop technology for a near-zero emission coal power project. India has agreed to pump in $10 million in FutureGen, which will create the world’s first zero-emission fossil fuel plant.

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