India and the US have agreed to stepping up Science & Technology coordination between the two countries in cross-cutting areas relating to energy, agriculture, affordable healthcare, nutrition and monsoon forecasting. This was agreed upon during a meeting between Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the US President for Science & Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology and Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Planning, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences in New Delhi today. The meeting was held in the context of the ongoing Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, India and the US have embarked upon a strategic relationship which specifically identifies science, technology and innovation as a major focus of future relationship in the 21st century.
In his address Dr. Kumar stated that there are major issues facing us in the areas of food, agriculture, nutrition, energy and water. In this connection research on monsoon is very crucial, as well as forecasting extreme events like floods and droughts, pests, crops etc. There is a need to work towards making agriculture resilient. He stated the need for further research on forecasting various hazards like cyclones and in this connection, usage of instrumental spectra aircraft is essential. Dr. Holdren agreed to look into this aspect. He also appreciated the sharing of data on issues relating to monsoon and flood and agreed to further strengthening the exchange of data. Dr. Kumar raised the importance of facilitating exchange of scientists from both the countries by addressing bottlenecks relating to Visa for S&T professionals. He urged for a liberal visa regime to ensure seamless issuance of visas for Indian scientists willing to work in the US. He also expressed India’s preparedness to substantially increase resource investment in promoting agricultural crops leading to affordable innovation in key sectors. Dr. Holdren also responded favourably to addressing issues such as Visa for S&T professionals and stepping up resources for S&T cooperation.
There was general consensus on substantially increasing financial outlay by both sides, for example, the Indo-US Science and Technology Endowment Fund which is currently 30 million dollars could have its corpus increased and the current allocation of 50 million dollars for both the sides for next 5 years could be enhanced to 100 million dollars.