Dr. Neal Lane, formerly the Director of the National
Science Foundation and until most recently the Science
Advisor and assistant to Ex-President Bill Clinton for
Science and Technology in the White House was the
featured speaker at the IACCGH luncheon held at the J.W.
Marriott Hotel on April 17 2001.
Mr. Subroto Mukerjee, program manager for the IACCGH
invited Dr. Krishna R. Dronamraju, a member of the
IACCGH to introduce the speaker of the afternoon.
Dr. Dronamraju gave a brief outline on Dr. Lane�s
distinguished career. Before becoming the Director of
the National Science Foundation in Washington, Dr. Lane
was the Provost of Rice University and also held other
distinguished positions like Chancellor of the
University of Colorado. He was a fellow of the American
Physical Society and a recipient of the George Brown
prize for superior teaching at Rice University. Dr.
Dronamraju said that they had both accompanied
Ex-President Clinton to India last year and had been
present when the President gave his important speech on
Information technology and Science and Technology
policy. He invited Dr. Lane to share with the IACCGH his
firsthand impressions of science and technology and how
India and USA can collaborate in a mutually beneficial
Dr. Lane started off his talk by saying that one of
the activities he had enjoyed most in his time in the
White house had been the chance to work on co-operative
endeavors involving India and the U.S. He said that the
U.S. and India have been important partners in Science
and Technology since the early 1970�s. He recognized
that India has a long tradition of excellence in
science, mathematics and more recently, technology. He
said that the world knows of great names such as: C.V.
Raman, Hargobind Khorana, Subrahmanayam Chandrasekhar,
Amartya Sen, S.N.Bose, H. Bhaba, M.N.Saha, Ramanujan,
and others. He said he had the great pleasure of meeting
Dr. Sen in Stockholm when he received his Nobel Prize in
1998. He noted that the enormous contributions made by
men and women from India who came to the U.S. to study,
teach, do research, practice medicine, set up businesses
are one of the reasons of this nation�s success in
science and technology and extraordinary growth in the
Dr. Lane remarked that with President Clinton�s
visit to India last March, we entered a new phase in
Indo -US cooperation. President Clinton talked about
"getting our own economic relationship right".
He said: "The private sector will drive this
progress, but our job as governments is to create the
conditions that will allow them to succeed in doing
Dr. Lane added that science and technology continues
to need more attention, particularly government funding
of R & D. A very important outcome of the trip had
been the agreement signed between our two governments on
the US-India S&T Forum. This agreement puts more
teeth in future co-operation in S&T and he believes
will stand the test of time.
While in New Delhi, he said he had been privileged to
meet the Minister of Human Resources Development and
S&T, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi who is also a fellow
Physicist and also had the opportunity to visit the Tata
Energy Research Institute and had a tour of the Indian
Institute of Technology. He also had the great honor of
meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee during his visit to
Washington past September.
Dr. Lane added that in course of his extensive
touring around the country he finds that three areas
seem to be on everyone�s list: information technology,
biotechnology and nanotechnology. Nanotechnology though
not really a mature technology yet, has immense promise
for the future.
Nanotechnology, he said is a vision, maybe not too
far off, that we will be able to manufacture materials
and devices starting from the molecular level, the scale
of one billionth of a meter, with just the properties we
want and with minimal waste. Significant further
advances in IT are likely to require nanotechnology, to
get the scale and energy down and the speed up.
Companies are being formed right now to develop and
market molecular switches and computer memories. The
implications are as fantastic as the mind can imagine.
And also in biotechnology and medicine, opportunities
are limitless. Researchers have already shown that
cancer cells in mice can be sought out and selectively
killed using nano-scale shells of gold, without harming
the healthy tissue. This work is being done at Rice
University and clinical trials are expected soon in
partnership with the Texas Medical Center.
He added that the vision that such a technology could
ever be developed was that of the legendary Nobel
Laureate Richard Feynman, in a famous 1950�s talk
"There is Plenty of the Room at the Bottom."
It took us a while to catch on and to develop the
necessary tools. But, nano-scale science has progressed
far in the last decade or so, producing such
breakthroughs as: quantum dots; nano-wires, nano-grain
metals, fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, nano catalysis,
nano-fabricated thin films, nano-tweezers;
single-electron transistor and tuning materials to
specified hardness, melting point, color, magnetic
properties and much more. Nanotechnology is all about
working in a very tiny world.
President Clinton included in his last budget (for
FY01 that began last October) an initiative to double
the Federal investment in nanoscale science and
Dr. Lane talked about the interest in India in
nanotechnology. It was one of the issues of possible
expanded cooperation he discussed at the second
high-level meeting in Washington. In spite of recent
cooling off and genuine downturns in U.S. markets, he
said he is optimistic about the future, both for science
and technology and further Indo-U.S. cooperation. Some
barriers remain, e.g., in the areas of intellectual
property, export controls, non-proliferation and perhaps
others. He said there should be no turning back from the
new partnership that was launched during President
He said cooperation between the U.S. and India should
become stronger � in both the public and private
sectors. That is important for both nations. We need to
work together to get a happy outcome here as well, he
He thanked the Chamber for the opportunity to give
Dr. Vishnu Hade, the Deputy Consul General of India
thanked Dr. Lane for a very informative and interesting
overview on Nano technology.