A dangerous optimist, Mashelkar is uniquely multifaceted. In 1998, this scientist received the J.R.D. Tata Corporate Leadership Award, an exclusive honour reserved for Indian Corporates. In 1998, he was also elected Fellow of Royal Society, the topmost honour reserved for world’s pathbreaking scientists. But then he also pioneered `Gandhian Engineering’ -`More from less for more people’ - catering to the needs of the poor. And why? Mashelkar says, as a poor boy, he studied under streetlights. He understands the pains of poverty.
Mashelkar valiantly fought and revoked the wrong US patents on turmeric and Basmati rice based on India’s traditional knowledge. But to US multinationals, he licensed patents based on modern knowledge of Indian laboratories, pioneering the trend of reverse transfer of technology.
He is a Director on boards of India’s leading companies, from Tatas to Reliance. 36 global universities have bestowed honorary doctorates upon him. The Government’s trust in him shows through the twelve high-powered Mashelkar Committees, many of them on contentious issues.
As its leader, Mashelkar transformed CSIR, the world’s largest chain of laboratories-heralded as one of the top ten achievements of Indian Science & Technology in the 20th century. He has received Padmavibhushan at the hands of President of India and Star of Asia at the hands of George Bush (Sr), former US President.
If God permits one wish, Mashelkar says he will ask for one day on earth again in 2050 to see his dream coming true - India as a leading advanced nation.