An Indo-Pak bond in science in the making

Scientists visit neighbour to work together on infectious diseases

A team of six senior Indian scientists visited Pakistan last week seeking to establish a connection between the scientific community from either side of the Line of Control to work together on common problems like infectious diseases and crop production.

The quiet tour under the banner of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) took place with the approval of the Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Science and Technology. The Indian High Commission in Islamabad made arrangements for the January 17-18 visit.

The members from the Indian side were Krishan Lal, president of INSA and former director of National Physical Laboratory in Delhi; N Satyamurthy, director of Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research in Mohali, Alok Bhattacharaya from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi; M L Munjal from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Vijay singh from Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana and Alok Maitra, INSA executive director.

“We were well received and had a fruitful meeting with the members of Pakistan Academy of Sciences and senior officials from Quaid-e-Azam university,” Lal told Deccan Herald.

The INSA president also attended a gathering at the University of Agriculture Sciences in Faisalabad en-route to a village where he was born before the Independence.

Regional conclave

INSA is now planning to host a regional scientific conclave around October-November where it plans to invite science academies from India’s neighbourhood including Pakistan to discuss regional issues on which scientists can work together.

The Indian science academy is building a regional scientific network for which INSA officials had visited Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka last year. The Pakistan tour is a part of building the regional network, which if realised, would benefit India in international fora.

Even though scientists from both sides meet each other in international conferences, New Delhi and Islamabad do not have a bilateral relation in science and technology.

India sent an exploratory delegation to Islamabad in 1989 with officials from DST, department of biotechnology, Forestry Research Institute, Dehradun and Unani Council as its members.

But political tension between the two neighbours came in the way of forging a formal linkage between the two research communities.

If revived, the regional linkage would have two advantages. The scientific community could work together for a common problem but more importantly the regional support might give India more voice in international meetings where votes matter, explained an official.

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