Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): Good morning freinds and welcome to this press
As you know, Prime Minister arrived very early this morning in
Washington D.C. from Brussels on the second leg of his three-nation tour. This
morning he has had one bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of New Zealand
Mr. John Key, and he has also met some scientists working with the LIGO Project.
So, I am going to brief you on these two meetings.
Insofar as the meeting
with the Prime Minister of New Zealand is concerned, the conversation began
with cricket, as you can imagine, with Prime Minister John Key congratulating Prime
Minister on India very successfully hosting the world T20 championship.
The leaders discussed bilateral cooperation in
a whole host of areas. The Prime Minister of New Zealand alluded to the large
Indian community in New Zealand and said that they are doing very well. New Zealand
is now hosting a large number of Indian students. In fact he said that because
of the decision of his government to permit foreign students to work 20 hours
per week, many more foreign students have started coming to New Zealand than in
Prime Minister Modi said that he would like
more Indian students to study in New Zealand. He said that Indian students
living in New Zealand feel very at home, they feel very safe and secure. And in
this context he encouraged the New Zealand government to undertake more
aggressive and proactive campaigns in Indian universities to attract more
Indian students just as Australia and Singapore have done.
Discussions then turned to trade issues. The
New Zealand Prime Minister said that they had concluded a very successful FTA
with China some years back, and he was very keen on New Zealand signing an FTA
with India as well. Of course he recognized that this is a prospect for the
long term. In the immediate term their interest is in having the RECP
negotiations with ASEAN come to a successful conclusion at an early date.
Prime Minister talked about our interest in
having dairy technology from New Zealand. As you know, New Zealand is one of
the world leaders in terms of dairy technology and food processing. Prime Minister
said that India is the world’s largest producer of milk but when it comes to
processing milk we are not so good. So, New Zealand could find a very good
market in India particularly now that the food processing sector has been opened
up to 100 per cent FDI.
There was also discussion on tourism. The New
Zealand Prime Minister said that Bollywood had done a lot to promote tourism to
New Zealand, a lot many Indian tourists were now coming to New Zealand. In fact
he said he had very recently met Shahrukh Khan. Prime Minister said that yes,
Bollywood had certainly contributed to packaging New Zealand as an attractive
tourist destination, but many more tourists could go to New Zealand if more
aggressive promotion could be undertaken.
In this context both leaders also underscored
the need for direct flights between India and New Zealand. Currently I believe
Singapore Airlines is providing third country service to New Zealand but there
are no direct flight connections between India and New Zealand.
So this, I think, was broadly the discussion
between the Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
After this, Prime Minister met scientists from
the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (the LIGO project)
which, as you know, has resulted in one of the most outstanding scientific
breakthroughs in recent years by proving Gravitational Waves theory of Einstein
correct. Some Indian scientists are now part of the LIGO project. Prime
Minister met three of them who had come here: Prof. Adhikari, Mr. Karan who is
himself a Gujarati, and Nancy Agarwal who is an expert on quantum mechanics as
What was significant about this project is
that now that India has agreed to be a part of this project, the possibility is
that India will become central to the LIGO project partly on account of the
fact that geography favours us. The plan is that the LIGO project has proved
the Gravitational Waves theory based here in the US but now they would like
LIGO projects to be replicated in other parts of the world so that based on
their geographical data also they can prove the Gravitational Waves theory.
Cabinet has already approved an outlay of
Rs.1200 crore for the project in India. It will come up hopefully in the next
five to seven years. And the LIGO people said, in fact Prof. Francis the
Director of the National Science Foundation said that India will become central
in the LIGO project. It was also mentioned that this technology, which is for
pure science, also has other applications which will benefit mankind.
Prime Minister looked at the LIGO project not
only as a very great example of India-US scientific collaboration but also as a
project which has the potential of generating curiosity in a lot of young minds
in India, and in fact creating a whole new generation of Indian scientists who
can get enthused with this remarkable breakthrough in science.
In this context he said that LIGO scientists
going to India should have more interaction with Indian universities, they
should try to meet more of the Indian students to inculcate in them the sense
of curiosity, the sense of discovery. And in fact he said that if scientific
toy makers could create toys based on the LIGO project which could create a
sense of curiosity and wonder in Indian children, then that would have a very beneficial
He also alluded to the fact that he had
created, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, a Science City in Ahmedabad which again
tried to tap into children’s natural curiosity. It was also told to us by the
Director of the National Science Foundation that the Global Research Council,
which has 60 member countries, will be having its meeting in India in May this
Also I must point out that just before Prime
Minister left on his three-nation tour, he met Indian scientists working in the
LIGO project in India, members of the Institute of Plasma Research. So, this in
a sense, explains to you the importance that Prime Minister personally attaches
to the LIGO project, how we believe that this not only has the potential of
creating a massive breakthrough in science and technology, but also enthusing a
whole generation of Indian scientists, and of course creating further
collaboration between India and the US in the area of science.
So, these were the two meetings that Prime
Minister had this morning. He is presently meeting some members of the Indian
community, and in the evening he will be leaving for the Nuclear Security
Summit. I will try to schedule a later briefing to brief you on Prime
Minister’s interventions at the Nuclear Security Summit. Thank you.
Question: Do you have a list
of the names of the scientists?
Spokesperson: Yes, I think I can give you the names. Dr.
France Cordova is the Director of the National Science Foundation of the United
States. Dr. Fleming Crim is the Assistant Director (Mathematical and Physical
Sciences), NSF; Ms. Rebecca Keiser, Head, Office of International Science and
Engineering, NSF; Prof. David Reitze, he belongs to Caltech and he is the LIGO Director.
The Indians were: Prof. Rana Adhikari, the lead experimenter on LIGO-Caltech;
Ms. Nancy Agarwal, a young Indian origin scientist working on computation of
LIGO data in MIT; and Mr. Karan Jani, a Postdoc Researcher in Georgia Tech
working on LIGO.
Prime Minister in fact had this question,
when the meeting began he said that you know I am just curious that when Einstein
discovered this 100 years ago, how could he do so because he did not have the
benefit of the modern technological aids and scientific instruments that present
day scientists have. So he asked Karan, you tell me how could Einstein have
done it? And Karan in fact said that I think Prime Minister that it is because
Einstein had curiosity, he had self confidence, and he had a fantastic base in
mathematics. Prime Minister quipped that this was a typical Gujarati answer!
Question: Is there a concern
that could be expressed on this forum about what is called the lack of an
independent regulatory authority when it comes to India’s own nuclear
programme? Is that something that India has been faced with in the past
editions of the Nuclear Security Summit?
Spokesperson: As I said, I am not going to be briefing you
on the Nuclear Security Summit as yet. The summit is yet to begin. As I said,
let the summit begin, let Prime Minister make his interventions and then I will
do a detailed briefing on the Nuclear Security Summit.
Question: Just a report that
has come in says that China has reportedly once again blocked India’s second
attempt at proscribing Masood Azhar.
Spokesperson: As I said, this is not a general briefing
where I am going to brief you on other issues unrelated to Prime Minister’s
engagements here in Washington. There will be a time and place for that as
Question: Are there any other
bilaterals slated for today?
Spokesperson: Today there is no other bilateral slated.
There will be some pull asides when the Prime Minister attends the NSS and
there will be some meetings tomorrow. I am not at liberty to disclose those
till those meetings happen because many times there are scheduling issues and
then people draw the wrong conclusions. So, let those meetings be scheduled,
let them happen and then I will give you readouts on those.
Question: …(Inaudible)… what exactly is the
intervention? When Indian Prime Minister will be intervening during the
deliberations, what exactly is the context?
Spokesperson: Basically, as you know, there are three
sessions in the NSS dealing with various aspects. There is going to be a
scenario-based discussion also where you take a hypothetical situation involving
nuclear terrorism and things like that. The Prime Minister will be outlining
India’s roadmap, India’s vision and the measures India has taken to ensure
nuclear safety and security.
Question: What are they likely to discuss at the NSS?
Official Spokesperson: As I said, this is
not a briefing on the NSS, so I cannot tell you in advance.
Question: Just a logistical
question. Will we be getting some of those remarks that Prime Minister makes?
Spokesperson: Most of these remarks are in closed
session but I have worked out with the Prime Minister’s team that I will be
tweeting relevant portions of Prime Minister’s intervention. I think that will
be the best way. Of course you will have to wait for me to do the formal
briefing to give you details beyond 140 characters.
Question: And for tomorrow
as well, will he be making a speech which will be public?
Spokesperson: Basically, I think these are closed-door
discussions. So, I do not think ...
Question: Will he be making
an intervention tonight also?
Spokesperson: Yes, he will be intervening tonight as well.
Question: As far as this US-India civil nuclear agreement is concerned, is
there more to be discussed about this or is this already done?
Official Spokesperson: The agreement is
completely done. In fact the two governments have done their bit and now it is
for the private players. As you know, Westinghouse is in discussions with
Question: But finally, Prime
Minister or India has given a final to US companies to come up this year or the
deal may go to someone else as far as land is concerned.
Spokesperson: As I said, now these are commercial
negotiations and it is between the commercial entities. As far as the umbrella
framework of the 123 Agreement is concerned, that is very much in place.
Thank you all.