Union Minister Harsh Vardhan has suggested several areas like marine ecosystems and protection of indigenous intellectual property in which India could further collaborate with South Africa.
The minister was on a three-day visit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Red Fort Declaration signed by then president Nelson Mandela and then Prime Minister Deve Gowda, which formed the basis for cooperation between the two countries.
Vardhan, the Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, suggested several more areas to which this collaboration could be extended, including solar and wind energy, marine ecosystems, and protection of indigenous intellectual property.
Vardhan and his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor jointly launched a booklet highlighting the collaborative successes in science and technology through robust networking of the best researchers and academic institutions.
So far, the cooperation has been focussed in fields like Astronomy & Astrophysics, Agriculture Sciences, Green Chemistry, Indigenous Knowledge System and Health Sciences, where both countries have complementary strengths.
But since the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July last year, the S&T cooperation has seen a significant boost with the launch of eight new projects in Astronomy which will help to augment the International Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project led by South Africa, Vardhan said.
He visited the SKA site in the Karoo desert and was appraised of the progress of the mega-telescope project in which India is a member country.
Indian scientists will be contributing in several design work packages of SKA, notably the Telescope Manager System which will be the controlling nerve centre behind the functioning of the SKA observatory.
The SKA project will address some of the most interesting science goals in astrophysics, ranging from the very early Universe to the search for intelligent life out there.
A multi-institutional project on HIV Vaccine Research Collaboration has been also initiated this year, aimed at developing preventive HIV vaccine and the identification of biomarkers and development of novel techniques for diagnosis and management of tuberculosis.
"This is a unique project where our two countries will use science for addressing the health care needs of our people in the area of HIV/TB," Vardhan remarked.
A new programme on 'grass root innovation', aimed towards sharing of open source technologies and IPR protection of traditional knowledge systems has also been launched for co- development of products through value addition, validation through product deployment and market ready technology transfer with a focus on affordability.
"Both India and South Africa have a rich pool of traditional knowledge which we can leverage by providing the scientific knowledge base required for technology development for societal benefit," Vardhan said.
India, as a leading country in the International Solar Alliance partnership, has extended an invitation to South Africa to join this alliance.
The two ministers also agreed that both countries could benefit from an understanding of the ocean processes which shapes the climate and coastal eco-system through collaboration in the blue economy, looking at the marine eco- system, including the living and non-living resources of the ocean.
Both India and South Africa are maritime nations and are a part of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
The Indian expedition to Antarctica is also launched from Cape Town.
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