Perspectives from a science diplomat with a success story
“I hope the project will confer economic benefits to the Commonwealth Members of the Caribbean,” wrote Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi against a request for India’s technical assistance and support for a scientific collaboration, which could confer far-reaching economic benefits to 13 Commonwealth member-countries.
I had served as Science Adviser to the Commonwealth Secretary-General during 1987-91 and had the privilege of direct dialogue with every Caribbean Commonwealth Head of Government, all of whom welcomed India’s generous offer to assist these countries.
The $ 2 million project began with no money but India’s offer of $ 1 million in cash and training costs of Caribbean scientists plus 100 days of Sagar Kanya ship time cost of $ 10,000 per day, brought in support from other countries. Caribbean Oceanographic Resources Exploration was such a massive success that it encouraged Ramphal’s successor Chief Emeka Anyaoku “to put in motion new co-operative ventures which can draw on the shared scientific resources of the Commonwealth.” India’s international image, technological leadership and cultural and political standing grew immensely.
Three decades later, it is time to revisit the spirit of
Project CORE and stimulate new models of cooperation in innovation. India with its fast-growing economic strength and willingness to support the cause of less developed
nations should reach out to them.
There are 195 independent nations in the world. Of them, 135 have a population of 10 million or less and 106 have a population of 1 million or less. 25 per cent of the independent nations of the world are isolated, economically weak and lack access to mainstream technologies, products or global markets.
In this backdrop, big science achiever nations, businesses and investors should come forward and knit a Pacific project focusing on the technology-economic interface. It is also my firm belief that technology sharing will project a new paradigm for boosting international peace and co-operation.