Dr. Raghunath Anant Mashelkar is known for his own world-class scientific research, for his transformative science and innovation institution leadership, for his pioneering different movements such as evolving global systems for traditional knowledge protection to helping create strong yet balanced IPR systems, to inclusive innovation movement based on the concept of Gandhian Engineering that he pioneered. He has been an influential thought leader in shaping Science, Technology & Innovation policies in post-liberalised India.
The President of India honored Dr. Mashelkar with three of the highest civilian awards, namely Padmashri (1991), Padmabhushan (2000) and Padma Vibhushan (2014).
He has received a record of 45 honorary doctorates from universities around the world, from London to Pretoria to Wisconsin to Monash to Swinburne to Delhi.
Key Positions Held
He was the Director of National Chemical Laboratory (1989-95) and later became the largest serving head of three major organizations, namely Director General of CSIR (1995-2006), Chairman of National Innovation Foundation (2000- 2018) and President of Global Research Alliance (2007-2017). He has been the President of Indian National Science Academy (2004-2006)
Global Honours and Awards
Dr. Mashelkar has many firsts to his credit. He was the first Indian to win the most prestigious TWAS-Lenovo Science Prize (2018), the highest science prize by the World Academy of Science, the first Indian from India to be elected a Fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors (2017), and the first Asian Scientist to win the Business Week (USA) award of `Stars of Asia’ at the hands of George Bush (Sr.), the former President of USA and the first and only scientist so far to win the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award (1998).
He is only the third Indian engineer to have been elected have Fellow of the Royal Society since 1660, the seventh Indian scientist to have been elected as a Foreign Fellow of the US National Academy of Science since 1863, and seventh Indian to have been elected as Foreign Associate of American Academy of Arts & Science since 1780.
He has been elected as a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Engineering (2003), Associate Foreign Member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2011), Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, U.K. (1996), Foreign Fellow of Australian Technological Science and Engineering Academy (2008), Corresponding Member of Australian Academy of Sciences (2017) and Fellow of World Academy of Arts & Science, USA (2000).
He is a jury member for the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize of Engineering, which is considered as being equivalent to the Nobel Prize in Engineering.
Global Leadership Role
Dr. Mashelkar drafted the historic Pretoria Declaration on ‘Global Knowledge Pool for Global Good’, which led to the formation of the Global Research Alliance (GRA). Its members included CSIR (India), CSIRO (Australia), FhG( Germany), DTI (Denmark), VTT (Finland), Battelle (USA) and SIRIM (Malaysia) with over 60,000 scientific and allied staff. He served as GRA’s President during 2007-2017.
He has been the only non-English President of the prestigious UK Institution of Chemical Engineers (2007) in its history and that too in its Golden Jubilee year.
He has been a member of the External Research Advisory Board of Microsoft (USA), Advisory Board of VTT (Finland), Corporate Innovation Board of Michelin (France), Advisory Board of Prime Minister’s National Research Foundation (Singapore), Corporate Innovation Board (Michelin), among others.
He was a World Bank consultant for restructuring R & D institutions in several countries around the world, such as Indonesia, Croatia, Serbia, Vietnam, Turkey, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Dr. Mashelkar’s connections with the international academic education and research community are deep and wide. He has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard University (2007-2012), at Delaware University (1976, 1988), and at Technology University of Denmark (1982). He has been Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Professor at Monash University for fifteen years (2007- 2022), a record for this most prestigious professorship.
In India, he has been a Chancellor of Assam University, Silchar (2003-2005), Chancellor of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (2013-2016.) and presently the Chancellor of Institute of Chemical Technology (2010- till date) and Chancellor of Jio Institute (2020 – till date.)
He has been the Chairman of the Research Advisory Council, IITB-Monash Research Academy, Mumbai (2014- till date), Chairman, Board of Governors of IISER, Kolkata (2010-2014), IISER, Mohali (2010-2014), IIT, Gandhinagar, (2011-2014) and National Institute of Pharmaceuticals Education and Research, Mohali (2001-2005).
Dr. Mashelkar has been on the Board of Directors of several reputed companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd., Tata Motors Ltd., Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Thermax Ltd., Piramal Enterprises Ltd., KPIT Technologies Ltd. Godrej Agrovet Ltd, etc. He chaired the Boards of GeneMedix Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd., Vyome Biosciences Pvt. Ltd. and Invictus Oncology Pvt. Ltd.
He promoted innovation in the corporate world. He chaired Reliance Innovation Council, KPIT Technologies Innovation Council, Thermax Innovation Council, Persistent Systems Innovation Council and Marico Foundation’s Governing Council. He currently chairs the New Energy Council of Reliance, which is making multi-billion dollar investments in the total value chain, ultimately leading to one of the world’s highest producer of green hydrogen.
In August 1997, Business India named Dr. Mashelkar as being among the 50 path-breakers in the post-independent India. In 1998, Dr. Mashelkar won the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award, the only scientist so far to win it in 30-plus years.
Science Institution Leadership
When Dr. Mashelkar took over as the Director General of CSIR, he enunciated “CSIR 2001: Vision & Strategy”. This was a bold attempt to draw out a corporate like R&D and business plan for a publicly funded R&D institution. This initiative has transformed CSIR into a user-focused, performance driven and accountable organization. This process of CSIR transformation has been heralded in the book ‘Scientific Edge’ by Jayant Narlikar as one of the ten most significant achievements of Indian Science and Technology in the twentieth century.
Earlier, as Director of India’s National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) during 1989-1995, Mashelkar gave a new orientation to NCL’s research programs with a strong emphasis on globally competitive technologies and international patenting. NCL, which was involved only in import substitution research till then, began licensing its patents to multinational companies.
Dr. Mashelkar has been propagating a culture of innovation and balanced intellectual property rights regime for over three decades. It was through his sustained and visionary campaign that growing awareness of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has dawned on Indian academics, researches and corporates. He spearheaded the successful challenge to the US patent on the use of turmeric for wound healing and also the patent on Basmati rice. These landmark cases have set up new paradigms in the protection of India’s traditional knowledge base, besides leading to the setting up of India’s first Traditional Knowledge Digital Library. In turn, at an international level, this has led to the initiation of the change of the International Patent Classification System to give traditional knowledge its rightful place.
As Chairman of the Standing Committee on Information Technology of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as a member of the International Intellectual Property Rights Commission of UK Government and as Vice Chairman on Commission in Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) set up by World Health Organization (WHO), he brought new perspectives on the issue of IPR and the developing world concerns.
16 Mashelkar Committees
He has chaired sixteen high-powered committees, popularly known in India, as ‘Mashelkar Committees’ set up to look into diverse national issues. These have ranged from National Auto-fuel Policy to Reforms of the Indian Drug Regulatory System to Reforms in higher education. He chaired the High Powered Review Committee to review the Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) in 1998, where the Committee recommendations were fully accepted by the Government of India to create NITs.
He had an early exposure to dealing with complex national tragedies. At the age of 42, he was appointed the Technical Assessor for the One Man Inquiry Commission set up to investigate the world’s worst man-made disaster, namely the Bhopal gas tragedy, where overnight over 2000 people lost their life.
He was appointed Chairman of the Committee for investigating the Maharashtra Gas Cracker Complex accident (1990) when 34 people died.
Shaping Science, Technology and Innovation Policy
In the post-liberalized India, Dr. Mashelkar has played a critical role in shaping India’s S&T policies. He was a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India set up by successive governments for thirty years. He was also a member of PM’s National Innovation Council.
He pioneered the concept of Gandhian Engineering, getting ‘more from less for more’. His paper on the subject in Harvard Business Review coauthored with C K Prahalad has been named among the top ten ‘must read’ papers in innovation. It has also influenced the thinking on inclusive innovation around the world.
Along with Prof Anil Gupta, he has championed the movement of grassroots innovation in India over the past three decades, giving a place of pride for the innovations done by the people for the people.
He co-authored with Ravi Pandit a book titled ‘Leap Frogging to Pole Vaulting: Creating the Magic of Radical yet Sustainable Transformation’, which won the best business book of the year award in the Tata Lit Festival in 2019.
The ASSURED framework for assured success in innovation that was proposed by him in this book has been widely used.
He pioneered the concept of the Golden Triangle, integrating traditional medicine, modern medicine, and modern science, which led to several major national initiatives.
Dr. Mashelkar has been contributing to social causes all his life. He has chaired the Corporate Social Responsibility Committees of Reliance, Tata Motors, Godrej Agrovet, etc.
He has been the Chairman of the Tata Affirmative Action Program (TAAP) Governing Council from 2012. TAAP supports programs to help scheduled casts and scheduled tribes.
Since 2007, he has been the President of the International Longevity Centre, India, which focuses on the challenges of the elderly, especially the poor ones.
He has set up in his mother’s name Anjani Mashelkar Foundation, which gives the Anjani Mashelkar Inclusive Innovation Awards. Since 2007, these recognized innovators, who make high technology work for the poor.
Since 2011, he has been the President of Pune International Centre, which is India’s leading think tank, well known for its outstanding policy research. He has been the Chairman of the Governing Council of Kherwadi Welfare Association, an organization that creates a livelihood for the deprived and gives school dropouts a second chance.
He is the President of Swarupvardhini, an organization that does many activities for social inclusion and supports the education of deprived children.
He chairs several awards committees that serve important social causes. These include Jamnalal Bajaj Awards for preserving and propagating Gandhian values, Earthcare Awards for outstanding climate change initiatives, FICCI – ISA awards for sanitation, etc.