ILC-I’s Pride & Honour - Dr. R. A. Mashelkar
Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, President of ILC-I, has been awarded the second highest national civilian Award, the PadmaVibhushan, by the Indian Government, in recognition of the stellar services rendered by him in the fields of science and technology.
His contribution, as one of the leading international scientists, has been acknowledged by India through this very prestigious award which is given to only a select few individuals for their achievements. He has already been conferred several awards and honorary degrees by different national and international universities, organisations.
Dr. Mashelkar was conferred the Padma Vibhushan Award by the President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi, on the 31st of March 2014 at a glittering function attended by the Vice President, the Prime Minister of India, the leaders of the various political parties, and other eminent personalities.
It is indeed a moment of pride and national honour for all of us at ILC-I to be a part of this glorious occasion.
Dr. R. A. Mashelkar - the Humble genius.
Dr.R.A.Mashelkar, National Research Professor is presently also the President of Global Research Alliance, a network of publicly funded R&D institutes from Asia-Pacific, Europe and USA with over 60,000 scientists.
Dr. Mashelkar served as the Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with thirty eight laboratories and about 200,000 employees for over eleven years. He was also the President of Indian National Science Academy and President of Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK).
Dr. Mashelkar is on the Board of Director of several reputed companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd, Tata Motors Ltd, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Gene Medix Life Sciences Ltd, Indigene Pharmaceuticals Ltd, ICICI Knowledge Park, Thermax Ltd, Piramal Life Sciences Ltd, and KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Microsoft.
Dr. Mashelkar is only the third Indian engineer to have been elected (1998) as Fellow of Royal Society (FRS) London in the twentieth century. He was elected Foreign Associate of National Academy of Science (USA) in 2005, Associate Foreign Member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2011); Foreign Fellow if US National Academy of Engineering (2003); Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, U.K. (1996); Foreign Fellow of Australian Technological Science and Engineering Academy (2008) and Fellow of world Academy of Art & Science, USA (2000)
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 first scientist to win it. In June 1999, Business India did a cover story on Dr. Mashelkar as “CEO of CSIR Inc”, a dream that he received himself had articulated, when he took over as DG, CSIR in July 1995. On 16 November 2005, he received the Business Weeks (USA) award of ‘Stars of Asia’ at the hands of George Bush (Sr.) then former President of USA. He was the first Asian Scientist to receive it.
Deeply connected with the innovation movement in India, Dr. Mashelkar is currently the Chairman of India’s National Innovation Foundation, Reliance Innovation Council, Thermax Innovation Council and Marico Innovation Foundation. He is also the President of the International Longevity Centre-India.
Thirty universities have honoured him with doctorate, which include Universities of London, Salford, Pretoria, Wisconsin and Delhi.
The President of India honoured Dr. Mashelkar with Padmashri (1991) and with Padmabhushan (2000), which are two of the highest civilian honours in recognition of his contribution to nation building. On the 31st of March 2014, Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, was felicitated with the second highest civilian award, the PadmaVibhushan by the President of India.
When Dr. Mashelkar took over as the Director General of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (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 publicity funded R&D institution. This initiative has transformed CSIR into a user prestamos personales focused, performance driven and accountable organization. This process of transformation has been recently heralded as one of the ten most significant achievements of Indian Science and Technology in the twentieth century.
Dr. Mashelkar has been propagating a culture of innovation and balanced intellectual property right regime for over a decade. It was through his sustained and visionary campaign that growing awareness of Intellectual Property Right (IPR) has dawned on Indian academics, researchers and corporate. 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 base 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 Organisation (WIPO) as a member of the International Intellectual Property Right Commission of UK Government and as Vice Chairman on Commission in Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) set up by World Health Organisation (WHO), he brought new perspectives on the issue of IPR and the developing world concerns.
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 and also of the scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet set up by successive governments. He has chaired twelve high powered committee set up to look into diverse issues of higher education national auto fuel policy, overhauling the Indian drug regulatory systems, dealing with the menace of spurious drugs, reforming Indian agriculture research system etc, he has been a much sought after consultant for restructuring the publicly funded R&D institutions around the world; his contribution in South Africa, Indonesia and Croatia have been particularly notable.
World Elders Day’ Address
Dr R.A.Mashelkar, FRS
I wish to extend my warm greetings to all my senior citizen friends on the occasion of the International Day of the Older Persons or also known as the World Elders Day.
It is my privilege to be present on this occasion.I thank all the organisations, who have come together to organise this wonderful event.
I especially thank Dr. Vinod Shah for this opportunity. Let us all applaud him hugely for his amazing lifelong commitment and his great contributions to the cause of the elderly, especially the phenomenal work of Janaseva Foundation in old age homes.
I am now 77 years old and I belong to the category of the club of the world elders. And this club is expanding every day. As you know, 2 people reach 60 years every second. So by the time, I would have finished my speech, we would have added 2000 people to this club, both from the developing and developed world.
But the challenges that the elders face are different in the developing and developed world. The developed world became rich first and then it became old.We in the developing world are going to old first and then become rich. So there is a big challenge.
The challenge has become bigger after the Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has destroyed lives and livelihoods. The poor are the worst hit. And we have further added to the pool of the poor. In 100 days around 100 million families moved from poverty to extreme poverty. Being poor is a challenge. But being poor and old is a bigger challenge. And that is exactly what our International Longevity Centre is trying to address.
I have been privileged to be the President of the International Longevity Centre-India for over a decade now. This is a not for profit organisation working for the cause of population ageing.
Serving ILC-I has been a great learning for me.
And I learned a lot from our founding father, the late Dr. S. D. Gokhale, the renowned gerontologist, whom we all revere and admire. On this World Elders Day, I will like to pay my humble respects to him by recalling his pioneering contributions, before I present my own thoughts to you.
Dr Gokhale had the vision and foresight to perceive the longevity revolution that was knocking on our door in the early 90’s- something that the policy makers did not visualise then.
Ageing is a universal phenomenon that no one escapes and hence it needs the utmost global attention to address its issues and concerns.
ILC-I, under the sterling leadership of Dr. Gokhale, pioneered the policy making process on this, both in India and the world. He himself contributed to the formulation of the international policy on ageing, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) of 2002. He also contributed to India’s National Policy on Older Persons of 1999, as a member of the policy formulation committees.
The present pandemic that has challenged the global population has posed a particularly serious challenge for the elderly. This is the section of the population that is the most vulnerable to the corona virus and as a result, it has restricted the elderly to stay safe in their homes.
Such a forced isolation has impacted the mental, physical and emotional health of the older persons. Not being able to go out and exercise, not being able to meet friends and relatives or socialise, has been a taxing situation for the seniors.
ILC-I believes in ‘Celebrating Age and Creating a Society for all Ages’. It has been working actively with a direct interface with senior citizens. It decided to contribute its own humble bit to address this concern so that the elders could cope with this challenging situation and stay active and healthy!
Over the last few months we have created special videos for senior citizens to engage them with exercises to keep their minds and bodies fit.
Simple exercises have been instructed by a professional physiotherapist to keep oneself physically fit in the limited confines of one’s home. Exercises for the mind, exercises for honing the fine motor skills of the elderly under the guidance of a medical doctor, have all been uploaded on the official YouTube channel of ILC-I. We invite all the seniors to visit us and benefit from it.
We have to create opportunities for the elderly, where they can add value The elderly can add enormous value to the society. We at ILC-I have started a programme, where the senior citizens can add value by promoting values in education of young children. As we know we badly require value-based education today. So in our program, the elderly with their infinite wisdom and understanding of the word, interact with school children imparting them precious values, which they might miss in their education in schools and indeed even at home. And this is a win-win situation. The children acquire precious values and the elders feel younger in the company of the young.
This is the digital age. How can we make the elders digitally literate? The trigger for our foray in this came in a program organised by ILC-I, which was centred around their safety. Here is the story.
ILC-I’s well-received programme of the Mobile Literacy Training for senior citizens was also modified to make it a virtual training programme. Special videos on how to use various social media communication apps like Google Duo, the very important and informative app devised by the Government of India-the Arogya Setu app have also been created by us for maintaining and enhancing the mental and physical well-being of the elderly in these trying times.
To mark the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which falls on the 15th of June, ILC-I, had held an online essay competition in which seniors were asked to write down their personal experiences on how they have helped prevent elder abuse of some senior citizen in their vicinity. The best five essays were put up on the official ILC-I Facebook site and all participants were given e-certificates.
This activity was welcomed by the senior citizens and from the essays received, it was heartening to note the efforts made by them to address the incidents of elder abuse and help stop it further. It also had a kind of cathartic effect for the seniors who were writing about them.
Another competition that we had organised was an online poetry competition for seniors to pen down their thoughts through an original poem, on how they have dealt with this lockdown and how it worked with regard to Intergenerational bonding/ Solidarity and the time spent with their families.
An overwhelming response to the event was marked by the ingenious creativity of senior citizens who found an outlet for their emotions to be expressed so freely. And there was a rider to this- the best three poems are to be filmed by ILC-I to depict visually the poem of the three winners, with the winner either reciting or singing his or her own poem. The first video is in its final edition stages and will soon be uploaded on our YouTube channel. Please do visit it.
In the offing are many more such online activities that seniors can access, enjoy, engage and keep themselves busy and occupied in the present stressful times.
ILC-I, as the Satellite Centre of the United Nations’ International Institute on Ageing (Malta) for the SAARC region , will also be holding, 4 webinars in the first quarter of the next year on Ageing in Asia. We, at ILC-I hope to be able to keep all our elders active and healthy as we face this challenge for mankind.
Let me end by giving you ten Mashelkar Mantras.
First, you can't help getting older but you don't have to feel old. To me age is just a number. You are as old as you feel.
Second, age is mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
Third, you must do everything possible to make sure that you're adding life to your years as you add years to your life. And you can do this if you live your life and forget about your age.
Fourth, you don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing. Similarly, you don't stop playing when you grow old, you grow old will you stop playing. Also you don’t stop thinking and creating when you grow old, you grow old, when you stop thinking and creating. So keep on thinking and creating, laughing, playing and you will live long.
Fifth, your date of birth is not decided by you but your date of departure from this earth is in your hands and that day will depend upon how you live, physically, mentally and spiritually.
If you maintain the highest standards in each of these, physically by exercising, mentally by meditating. But also spiritually by continuously exploring the beauty of the inner world, having a sense of meaning and purpose, loving and being loved, tapping into inner peace and joy, being of service to others, bringing comfort to someone feeling lonely and anxious. If you do this you will age gracefully.
Sixth, those who love deeply and give graciously never grow old. They may die of old age but they die young. So keep on loving, keep on giving.
Seventh, even an old tree can spring new buds. Ideas and creativity is not the prerogative of the young.
Let me explain by taking scientific community as an example, since I am a scientist. And I have seen that Hildebrand wrote his book on diffusion in solids, when he was celebrating his 100th birthday. Sir G I Taylor wrote a single author paper in Journal of Fluid Mechanics on stability of soap films, when he was 93. Professor John Goodenough got the Nobel prize when he was 97, but as he approaches his century, he is still busy in his laboratory.
Coming nearer home my Guru, Bharat Ratna Prof C N R Rao. He is 86 now. But he is still in his laboratory at in the morning. His enthusiasm for research is the same as it was when he was in his twenties. And he produces the same number of papers as he did 10 years ago.
My favourite is Keki Gharda. He has donated so generously to ILC-I a over the past several years. We are beholden to him, because we have survived and succeeded in serving the cause of the humanity mainly because of him.
He just celebrated his 91st birthday. Keki Gharda is an innovator par excellence. He built his entire billion dollar enterprise of Gharda Chemicals based on his research and innovation. But to him Innovation is a way of life. Even at the age of 91, I find that he behaves like a 19 year old, and any time you meet him, he's talking about the next breakthrough technology of his dreams. And not only does he dream but he's investing all the wealth that he has created in not conceptualising but actualising a world-class breakthrough of technologies that will surprise everyone. So it just doesn't matter how old you are, all that you need is a purpose, perseverance and passion.
Eighth, you are never too old to have a new dream or set a new goal. When Dr Narendra Jadhav, the then VC of the then Pune University opened the Ph D program for the senior citizens, the response from them was amazing.
Ninth, remember the quality of life has improved vastly. So today’s sixty is yesterday’s fifty. So just subtract ten years of your life as your real age, and you will not only feel younger but live longer.
And finally my tenth Mantra. There is no limit to human endurance, there is no limit to human achievement, there is no limit to human imagination, excepting the limits you put on yourself.
Yuichiro Miura is the oldest person in the world to ever climb to the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 80. He first set the record in 2003 at the age of 70, but reclaimed the record – after other people had beaten it – when he was 80 years old in 2013.
This leads me to an important point. If you do not put any limit on what you can achieve then what it means is that you have to say to yourself that your best is yet to come no matter how old you are. And for this I have a simple mantra for you.
It doesn't matter whether you are 60 or 70 or 80 or 90. Make it a practice that every morning when you get up, you say to yourself that my best is yet to come and maybe today will be the day when the best will come. You will have a new lease of life and you will live long and you will live a life that is full of happiness, contentment , full of peace and full of tranquility.
Please take care, all of you and your beloved families.
Thank you !