Both Indians and Americans have long been recognized as being leading innovators in information technology, biomedical research, biotechnology, agriculture, and many other high-tech fields. “India has the scientific and technological base to join the United States as equal partners in pushing forward the frontiers of research,” said Dr. Dobriansky, something that would result in “a very positive impact on the lives of all of our citizens.” Indeed, a key to mutual economic growth and prosperity is to increase linkages among U.S. and Indian knowledge bases: the two nations’ scientists, engineers, researchers, academics, and private sectors.
A new Science and Technology Framework Agreement signed in fall 2005 by Secretary Rice and Minister Sibal establishes, for the first time, intellectual property rights protocols and other provisions truly necessary for conducting active collaborative research. The agreement also builds the framework within which Indian and U.S. scientists in government, the private sector, and academia can collaborate very actively in such areas as basic and engineering sciences, space, energy, health, and information technology.
For many, these new opportunities for increased scientific collaboration come as no surprise. Scientific and economic links between India and the United States have been strong since the very early 1960s—first in agriculture, then spreading into a broad range of areas involving most U.S. governmental agencies. The benefits are currently visible in many parts of the United States, where many experienced Indian scientists and engineers are working as a result of such active collaboration.
Under this S&T Framework Agreement, the United States and India would cofund a $30 million Bi-national Science and Technology Endowment Fund that is designed to generate collaborative partnerships in science and technology, as well as to promote industrial research and development. In addition, the United States and India are exploring the potential for cooperation in Earth observation, satellite navigation and its application, space science, natural hazards research, disaster management and support, and education and training in space. U.S. instruments are to be provided for India’s upcoming first lunar mission, the Chandrayan 1; at a time when the United States had not gone to the moon for many years, this represents an opportunity for the two nations to collaborate on efforts to understand Earth’s closest neighbor.
Despite the number of initiatives listed, said Dr. Dobriansky, she felt as if she had merely scratched the surface of Indo–U.S. collaboration. Calling the countries “natural allies [who were] finally realizing the full potential of close corroboration,” she declared that with the help of the innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs in the audience, the benefits of U.S.–Indian friendship would be felt by all among both peoples, from farmers to physicists. She concluded by expressing her support for the day’s discussions, her eagerness to be apprised of their outcome, and her thanks for having been given the opportunity to address the symposium.