India Becomes Associate Member of CERN

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India became an associate member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, after the government completed internal approval procedures on the agreement it signed in November 2016.

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.

The instruments used at CERN are purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before the beams are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Becoming associate member of CERN will enhance participation of Indian young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programmes.

It will also provide opportunities to Indian industries to participate directly in CERN projects.

India has been actively involved in CERN’s activities for over 50 years. Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have made substantial contributions to the construction of the LHC accelerator and to the ALICE and CMS experiments, as well as to accelerator R&D projects.

Being an associate member will allow India to take part in meetings of the CERN Council and its committees (Finance Committee and Scientific Policy Committee). Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will open up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology. Also, Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments.


Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 22 member states.

In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific cooperation. India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then.

But India’s involvement in CERN began in the 1960s with researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, participating in experiments at CERN.

In the 1990s, scientists from Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore, too got involved.

Researchers from TIFR, Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology and other institutes built components for an accelerator (LEP) and detectors (L3, WA93 and WA89). India was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002.

On November 21, Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), and Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director-General, signed an agreement to admit India to CERN as an associate member.

But India had to “notify CERN of its final approval for the agreement to enter into force” and become an associate member, which it did on 16 January 2017.

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