The Indo-French scientific cooperation is more than three decades old. The Inter Governmental Agreement for Cooperation in the field of Science and Technology was concluded on 18th July 1978 in New Delhi. The Indo –French S&T cooperation has a long and rich history wherein strong bonds have been created between Indian and French Scientists.
The Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR) or Centre Franco-Indien Pour la Promotion de la Recherche Avancée (CEFIPRA) is a model for bilateral R&D cooperation in advanced areas of science and technology. The Centre was established in 1987. CEFIPRA supports high quality research groups through collaborative research projects in advanced areas of basic and applied science to nurture scientific competency. It also provides linkages between industry and academia of France and India by leveraging the research skills of academia to enhance the competitiveness of the Industrial partner involved. For enabling knowledge-sharing on science and technology in the areas of current relevance, it also organizes seminars/workshops. In 2016, the organization in association with the Embassy conducted 152 scientists exchange programmes from France to Indian and India to France. It also held 4 seminars and published 115 research papers in 2016. The organization also recommended 16 Collaborative Scientific Research Programme and 5 Industry academia Research & Development Programme and 29 Indian research students were trained in France in 2016. As there is a strong desire from both the countries to create an enabling environment which strengthens the Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) of both the countries and ability to translate knowledge towards creating global common goods, the organization has also introduced different innovative programmes through public private partnership mode. In order to help research scholars, CEPIFRA started Raman-Charpak fellowships in 2013 for Indian and French scholars and in 2016, 25 Indian and 6 French have been selected for the Fellowship.
Besides under the umbrella of the CEFIPRA, collaboration to develop better water technologies is underway through a variety of joint projects in the form of ‘Indo-French Cell on Water Sciences’ at Bangalore, ‘Indo-French Centre for Ground Water Research’ at Hyderabad and ‘Indo-French Programme for Research on Weather & Climate’ at Goa. Since 2008, the Geological Survey of India and the Bureau de Recherches Geologiques at Minieres have expanded their cooperation on areas of geo-thermal energy, ground water resource management, sub-soil storage of CO2 and geological mapping. Combined research and training of scientists in the fields of biotechnology, bioinformatics, pharmacogenomics and agrarian research (ICAR) is separately undertaken between our Department of Biotechnology and laboratories of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA). During the visit of our Prime Minister in April 2015, an MoU has been signed between Dept of Biotechnology, CNRS and Universite Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) regarding setting up of a National Institute of Marine Biololgy and Biotechnology in Goa with hub and model network of laboratories in marine regions of Andaman and Lakshadweep..
There are several Indo French Joint labs operational in India and France. Most of them are virtual labs where the researchers work in their own institutions and exchange their findings and occasionally meet to discuss further. Therefore, these are projects with no physical existence of one roof where researchers work together.
An important development in the field of bilateral S&T cooperation has been the signing of an agreement in January 2016 in New Delhi to establish a Joint Indo-French Science and Technology Committee. During Prime Minister’s visit to France in April 2015, both countries had agreed to establish the joint committee to further enhance the existing bilateral cooperation.
A number of MoUs have been signed between India and France to strengthen bilateral cooperation in area of applied and theoretical sciences. During the visit of our Hon’ble Prime to France in April 2015, CNRS signed an MoU with Department of S&T, Government of India for furthering cooperation in the field of science and technology. In order to further enhance cooperation, during the visit of French President Hollande to India in January 2016, agreements were signed between the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and between Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and French CNRS/Telecom Bretagne/Université de Bretagne occidentale/Université de Bretagne Sud/ENSTA Bretagne/ENI Bretagne. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sponsored Ph.D. Fellowships was also signed between Thales and Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai.