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Israel plans thrust on science and technology collaboration

By P. Sunderarajan

NEW DELHI DEC. 24. Indo-Israel ties in science and technology are all set to get a major push with the two countries proposing to double the investment under the ongoing science and technology collaboration to $1 million from $0.5 million each in the next biennial period starting October 2004.

Israel's Minister for Science and Technology, Eliezer Moodi Sandberg, said his country was keen on strengthening science and technology ties with India considering that the latter had a rich base of scientists and technologists and the two countries could benefit by synergising their activities.

He told that Israel was particularly interested in developing research collaboration in space application for improvement in agricultural productivity, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Mr. Sandberg, who is here on a four-day visit, said Israel was specially interested in human genome research and in collaborating with scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation towards utilising satellites for better management of land and other resources. "Israel may be a small country. But, the limitation is only in terms of land area. The sky above the country is unlimited. We want to make the best use of it."

Mr. Sandberg, who is visiting Bangalore apart from Delhi, said he would, among other things, discuss with the ISRO scientists the possibility of Israel's participation in India's proposed unmanned mission to the moon. "We don't know the details of the mission as yet. Perhaps, some form of participation could emerge after discussions with the ISRO scientists. In any case, we are interested in fostering ties with the ISRO."

During the visit to Bangalore, he will sign a memorandum of understanding with the ISRO for the inclusion of a set of three wide field ultra-violet telescopes as part of the payload of the GSAT-4 satellite scheduled to be launched in 2005. Israel had earlier proposed to install these telescopes on a Russian satellite.

With Russia finding it difficult to accommodate them, Israel has chosen to utilise the services of the ISRO.

Mr. Sandberg's itinerary here included discussions with scientists at the IIT, and the CSIR's Institute for Genomic and Integrated Biology.

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