Raghunath Anant Mashelkar
|Other names||Ramesh Mashelkar|
|Alma mater||Institute of Chemical Technology (B.E., PhD)|
Global Research Alliance
National Innovation Foundation
Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, also known as Ramesh Mashelkar, (born 1 January 1943) is an Indian Chemical Engineer, born in a village Mashel in Goa and brought up in Maharashtra. He is a former Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). He was also the President of Indian National Science Academy (2004-2006), President of Institution of Chemical Engineers (2007) as also the President of Global Research Alliance (2007-2018). He was also first Chairperson of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), Foreign associate of US National Academy of Engineering and the US National Academy of Sciences.
Mashelkar studied at University of Bombay's University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT; now the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai) where he obtained BE degree in chemical engineering in 1966, and PhD degree in 1969. He currently serves as chancellor of the institute.
He served as the director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - a network of thirty-eight laboratories-for over eleven years. Prior to this, he was Director of National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) for six years.
He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University(2007-2012), at University of Delaware (1976, 1988), and at Technical University of Denmark (1982). He has been Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Professor at Monash University for thirteen years (2007-2019).
He has been a member of External Research Advisory Board of Microsoft (USA), Advisory Board of VTT (Finland), Corporate Innovation Board of Michelin (France), Advisory Board of National Research Foundation (Singapore), among others.
As Director of India's National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) during 1989-1995, Mashelkar gave a new orientation to NCL's research programmes with 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.
As Director General of CSIR, Mashelkar led the process of transformation of CSIR. The book 'World Class in India', has ranked CSIR among the top twelve organizations, who have managed the radical change the best in post-liberalised India.
The process of CSIR transformation has been heralded as one of the ten most significant achievements of Indian Science and Technology in the twentieth century, by eminent astrophysicist Prof. Jayant Narlikar, in his book, The Scientific Edge.
Mashelkar campaigned strongly with Indian academics, researchers and corporates for strengthening the IPR ecosystem. Under his leadership, CSIR occupied the first position in WIPO's top fifty PCT filler among all the developing nations in 2002. CSIR progressed in US patent filing to an extent that they reached 40% share of the US patents granted to India in 2002.
Led by Mashelkar, CSIR successfully fought the battle of revocation of the US patent on wound healing properties of turmeric (USP 5,401,5041) claiming that this was India's traditional knowledge and therefore not novel. Mashelkar also chaired the Technical Committee, which successfully challenged the revocation of the US patents on Basmati Rice (USP 5,663,484) by RiceTec Company, Texas, (2001). This opened up new paradigms in the protection of traditional knowledge with WIPO bringing in a new internal patent classification system, where sub-groups on traditional knowledge were created for the first time. This led to the creation of India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, which helped in prevention of the grant of wrong patents on traditional knowledge.
He pioneered the concept of Gandhian Engineering in 2008 (Getting More from Less for More People). His paper with late C.K. Prahalad titled `Innovation’s Holy Grail’ has been considered as a significant contribution to inclusive innovation. His other contributions amplify the concept of More from Less for More.
He was a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and also of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet set up by successive governments. He has chaired twelve high powered committees set up to look into diverse issues ranging from national auto fuel policy to overhauling the Indian drug regulatory system & dealing with the menace of spurious drugs. He was appointed by the Government as Assessor for the One-man Inquiry Commission investigating into the Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1985–86), and as Chairman of the Committee for investigating the Maharashtra Gas Cracker Complex accident (1990–91).
Deeply connected with the innovation movement in India, Dr. Mashelkar served as the Chairman of India's National Innovation Foundation (2000-2018). He chaired Reliance Innovation Council, KPIT Technologies Innovation Council, Persistent Systems Innovation Council and Marico Foundation's Governing Council. He co-chairs the Maharashtra State Innovation Society.
Mashelkar has made contributions in transport phenomena, particularly in thermodynamics of swelling, superswelling and shrinking polymers, modelling of polymerisation reactors, and engineering analysis of Non-Newtonian flows.
He won the TWAS Lenovo Science Prize, which is the highest honour given by The World Academy of Science. The citation for the prize given read as “for his seminal contributions in mechanistic analysis, synthesis and applications of novel stimuli responsive polymers.”
His prize winning work has been recently highlighted in Current Science, some highlights are as follows: Mashelkar and co-workers researched on smart hydrogels, which are water swollen crosslinked networks of polymers. They respond to stimuli such as pH, temperature, electric field, etc. and undergo volume phase transition. They have enormous potential as sensors, actuators, soft robots, controlled drug delivery systems, etc. Mashelkar and co-workers discovered and demonstrated for the first time a class of smart hydrogels that exhibited unique biomimicking functions: thermoresponsive volume phase transitions similar to sea cucumbers, self-organization into core-shell hollow structures similar to coconuts, shape memory as exhibited by living organisms, and metal ion-mediated cementing similar to marine mussels. Besides this, his group also created switching biomimetic hydrogels showing enzyme like activity (gelzymes). Achieving self-healing in permanently cross-linked hydrogels had remained elusive because of the presence of water and irreversible cross-links. Mashelkar and co-workers demonstrated for the first time that permanently cross-linked hydrogels can be engineered to exhibit self-healing in an aqueous environment. Mashelkar and co-workers demonstrated for the first time a novel enzyme mimicking hydrogel (gelzyme) in the form of a polymeric chymotrypsin mimic, whose hydrolytic activity could be rapidly, precisely and reversibly triggered on / off by UV light and pH. Unlike the enzyme-based systems, gelzyme offered additional features: greater tailorability; complete reversibility; and stability in hostile environments.
In 2005, the Indian government established a technical expert group on patent laws under the chairmanship of Mashelkar. Its purpose was to determine whether amendments made in Indian patent law were TRIPS compliant. The committee unanimously concluded that the amendments were not TRIPS compliant.
The report generated controversy when editorials published simultaneously in the Times of India and The Hindu alleged parts of the report had been plagiarised. Mashelkar subsequently withdrew the report due to the alleged plagiarism, admitting to flaws in the report whilst stating, "This is the first time such a thing has happened." He later also explained that the technical flaw was not the alleged lack of attribution but it was citing the attribution at the end of the report than in the body of the report due to the style adopted for the report.
The controversy was raised in the Indian Parliament, with demands that the report be "trashed" and the issues be referred to a joint standing committee. However, the government instead referred the report back to the technical expert group to reexamine and correct the inaccuracies. The report was resubmitted after corrections in March 2009 and was accepted by the Government as such.
Dr. Mashelkar has received several awards and is a member of numerous scientific bodies and committees. So far, 42 universities from around the world have honored him with honorary doctorates, which include Universities of London, Salford, Pretoria, Wisconsin, Swinburne, Monash and Delhi.
Honours by President of India: (highest Indian civilian awards)
Election to Prestigious Academies (International):
Election to Prestigious Academies (National):
Presidency of Top Academic Bodies
Awards and Honours: International