India to follow Pakistan, may become CERN member soon, says official

The Large Hadron Collider is preparing for running at higher energy in 2015 (Image: Maximilen Brice/CERN)

The Large Hadron Collider is preparing for running at higher energy in 2015 (Image: Maximilen Brice/CERN)

Months after Pakistan becoming a member of CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab that claims to have cracked Higgs Boson in 2012 and went ot win a Nobel prize next year, India has woken up to the necessity of joining the prestious research outfit.

“The government has approved India’s associate membership of CERN. But it will take about a year for formalities to be completed. Because now it will be for the CERN council to go through the formalities. That is the normal time,” a scientist with the science and technology ministry told the media at the Bose Institute.

He said the approval came at the end of March after CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) director general Rolf Dieter Heuer had appealed India to be a member in his February visit.

Heuer had said India, which has observer status, would be “committing a mistake if it did not bid for CERN’s associate membership.”

Observer status means India can attend council meetings and receive council documents without taking part in the decision-making procedures of the organisation. But as an associate member, India would be entitled to attend open and restricted sessions of the organisation.

The fees to become an associate member was $11 million per annum. While India is pondering the associate membership status, Pakistan moved ahead of India in December last year and signed to join CERN’s associate membership.

CERN discovered the Higgs Boson (God’s Particle) at its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. Later, it was closed for two years for maintenance and re-opened in March this year.

The ministry official said India’s participation with CERN “continues” and it will also be involved in the upgradation of two of its detector experiments – CMS and ALICE.

The decision is not surprising in view of the country planning its own underground Neutrino project in Tamil Nadu in a couple of years to conduct particle research. In Asia, Japan is another major country cooperating with CERN to provide similar tunnel construction for future particle research.

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