Raghunath Anant Mashelkar

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Raghunath Anant Mashelkar
Ramesh Mashelkar Apr09.jpg
Born (1943-01-01) 1 January 1943 (age 72)
Mashel, Goa, Portuguese India (now India)
Residence Thane
Nationality Indian
Fields Chemical Engineering
Institutions CSIR India; Global Research Alliance; National Innovation Foundation
Alma mater Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
Known for Intellectual Property Rights; R&D; Innovation
Notable awards Padma Vibhushan
Padma Bhushan
Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar
G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research

Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, also known as Ramesh Mashelkar.[2] FRS, FREng,[1] FIChemE[3] (Marathi: रघुनाथ अनंत माशेलकर (born 1 January 1943) is an Indian chemical engineer and a former Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR),[4] a chain of 38 publicly funded industrial research and development institutions in India.

Life and work[edit]

Mashelkar studied at the University of Bombay's Department of Chemical Technology (now the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai) where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Chemical engineering in 1966, later on a PhD degree in 1969.[5]

Mashelkar is presently the President of Global Research Alliance,[6] a network of publicly funded research and development institutes from Asia-Pacific, South Africa, Europe and USA with over 60,000 scientists. He is the Chairperson of India's National Innovation Foundation.[7] He has been appointed as the first Chairperson of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR).[8] He is also the chairman of the Reliance Innovation Council formed by Reliance Industries Limited, India.[9]

Mashelkar is the former President of the Indian National Science Academy and the UK Institution of Chemical Engineers (2007–08).[5] He served for over eleven years as the director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research,world's largest chain of publicly funded industrial R&D institutions, with thirty-eight laboratories and about 20,000 employees.[10] He is the third Indian engineer to have been elected as fellow of Royal Society (FRS), London in the twentieth century. He was elected foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2005, only the 8th Indian since 1863 to be selected. On 28 April 2008, he was elected as the foreign associate of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.[11] He is the first Indian to have received this honour. He was elected foreign fellow of US National Academy of Engineering (2003), International Fellow[1] of Royal Academy of Engineering,[1] UK (1996), and Fellow of World Academy of Art & Science, USA (2000). Twenty-six universities have honoured him with honorary doctorates, which include University of London, University of Salford, University of Pretoria, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Delhi University.

National contributions[edit]

In the post-liberalized India, Mashelkar has played an important role in shaping India's science and technology 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 chaired twelve committees established to examine a variety of issues including higher education, national fuel policy,[12] the drug regulatory system[13] and the agriculture research system.[14]

Original contributions to scientific and industrial research[edit]

Overall Contributions[edit]

Mashelkar has made some path-breaking contributions in transport phenomena, particularly in thermodynamics of swelling, superswelling and shrinking polymers, modelling of polymerisation reactors, and engineering analysis of Non-Newtonian flows.[15]

Swelling, superswelling and shrinking polymers: transport & thermodynamics[edit]

Mashelkar made the first molecular level interpretation of volume phase transitions in stimuli responsive gels through his Lattice Fluid Hydrogels Bonding models. These studies led to an understanding of the role of the subtle hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance in determining these transitions and also in molecular tailoring of these intelligent gels. Mashelkar’s original contributions, the first time ever, include biomimetic switching hydrogels (gelzymes), the discovery of molecular recognition induced macroscopic reversible morphological transitions and the discovery of self-healing phenomena in gels.

Sensitivity, selectivity, mobility, memory, self-organization, self-healing and enzyme like activity are some of the attributes of living materials. Synthetic hydrogels have been considered as potential candidates for mimicking life. Among these, it was Mashelkar, who demonstrated self-organization, self-healing & enzyme like activity for the first time.

Mashelkar's studies on lifetime of a dissolving polymeric particle are pioneering. The phenomenon of particle size independent dissolution in polymeric systems and the crucial role of reptation dynamics was demonstrated for the first time. His contribution to the interpretation of the phenomenon of unusual retardation and enhancement in polymer dissolution is pathbreaking, since he was the first to show the crucial role of disengagement dynamics in dissolution, for which he provided a direct evidence through some probing in-situ NMR experiments. Later, he showed the critical role of disengagement dynamics in other macromolecular transport processes.

Engineering analysis of non-Newtonian flows[edit]

Mashelkar has contributed to the understanding of diverse phenomena of interest to engineers in rheologically complex fluids. These cover laminar secondary flows, turbulent flows, free convection and particle motion and deformation.

He investigated the motion and deformation of bubbles, drops and solid spheres in rheologically complex fluids. His original contributions include the discovery of the phenomenon of delayed separation in Non-Newtonian fluids, an original experimental discovery of the presence of dual wakes behind spheres moving in elastic liquids, anomalous wake formation in liquid drops and a new concept of "elastic boundary layer" to explain some anomalous visco-elastic flows.

Role of energetic networks in non-Newtonian flows[edit]

Mashelkar developed the Energetically Crosslinked Transient Network (ECTN) Model, where the role of transient network formed by hydrogen bonds and its distinct difference from the physical networks was explicitly taken into account. He provided the direct evidence of the different character of such networks by doing in situ Rheo-NMR experiments. The application of this model has resolved anomalies, which had baffled analysts for over three decades. These included double stress overshort, time dependent terminal velocities, unusually long restoration times in particle motion in viscoelastic media, etc.

The role of such energetic interactions in phase separation in flowing polymeric fluids was analysed to propose the concept of deformation induced hydrophobicity for the first time. Further, the use of such energetic interaction based networks was made to create shear stable clusters of drag reducers. iop;oiu;iou;' His unified transient network models for analysing the wall-slip problem have opened up new vistas. His pioneering work on role of convective constraint release is the first ever direct molecular level interpretation of the wall-slip phenomenon.

Modelling of industrial polymerisation reactors[edit]

Mashelkar modelled the entire process of industrial polymerisation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Many new important insights into the complex behaviour were obtained. The process of melt polycondensation of PET is accompanied by a desorption of a number of volatile side products accompanied by a series of reversible reactions. This diffusion – reaction problem poses conceptual as well as numerical difficulties in modelling. An apparently anomalous observation of the enhancement of polycondensation rate with increased side reactions, which had remained unexplained so far, was resolved. New strategies for enhancing productivity in industrial reactors emerged as a result of this work. This work has wide ranging impact globally on both theory and practice of polycondensation reactors.


In the year 2005, the government of India set up a technical expert group under the Chairmanship of Mashelkar on patent laws, which was to opine on whether the amendments made in the Indian Patent Law were TRIPS compliant or not. The committee comprised, besides Mashelkar legal luminaries on the issues of IPR, namely Dr. N.R. Madhava Menon and Prof. Moolchand Sharma. It also had luminaries from the scientific world, Prof. Goverdhan Mehta and Prof. Asis Dutta as members.

All the five members of the committee unanimously opined in their 'Report of the Technical Expert Group on Patent Law Issues' that the amendments were not TRIPS compliant, since Article 27 of TRIPS stated that no technology or field could be excluded from patenting as long as it met the basic criteria of novelty, non-obviousness and utility, whereas the Indian patent amendments meant that only new chemical entities satisfying certain criteria could be patented.

This report led to controversy, which was voiced by the Communist Party of India (CPI-M), certain NGOs and certain sections of the drugs and pharmaceutical industry of India, which were keen on maintaining a system that did not allow for incremental innovations to be patented in this sector. Incidentally it was the CPI-M through its report titled Left Parties on Amendments to the Indian Patent Act, which had urged the government to bring in these changes, which were not part of the ordinance that was passed by the government.

The controversy got highlighted in the media, since some of the text in the report was reported, without attribution to the original source, especially that of Prof. Shamnaad Basheer. There was an accusation of plagiarism. This accusation was highlighted through two editorial pieces published simultaneously in the Times of India[16] and The Hindu.[17]

According to Prof. Shamnaad Basheer, this allegation was unfounded. As cited on his blog he wrote "It is unfortunate that my blog has been selectively quoted to support allegations that the Committee 'plagiarised' from my report. This is not correct, as amply borne out by the last sentence in the blog: "To be fair to the Committee, they did include the crux of my submission in an Annex to their Report." In other words, the Committee did include the key points in my submission as an Annexure, as they did with every other submission (about 24 in all) that was made to them. Merriam Webster defines ‘plagiarising’ as "presenting as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source." Those with the patience to read the entire report including the Annexures would have gathered that some of the Committee’s observations were borrowed from my report and not 'plagiarised'.

On 19 February 2007, Mashelkar withdrew his report from the government in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry due to the alleged plagiarism,[18] admitting to flaws in the report,[16][19] and further clarifying that "This is the first time such a thing has happened."[18]

CPI-M and patent law experts raised the Mashelkar controversy in the Indian Parliament, demanding that the report be "trashed" and given the industry capture evident in his report, that the issues be referred to a joint standing committee.[20][21]

However, the Government of India did not accept this position and referred the report back to the technical expert group to re-examine and correct the inaccuracies.

However, subsequently, an article published in the Times of India claimed plagiarisation in the book co-authored by Shahid Ali Khan and Mashelkar, in that certain paras from the text from British IPR expert Graham Dutfield were quoted without attribution. Subsequently, Mashelkar, while admitting this unfortunate error reported that the attribution was correctly given with the first possible opportunity that arose with the publication of the Indian edition of the book in 2006.

Awards & recognition[edit]

Mashelkar has received over fifty awards and honorary doctorates and is a member of numerous scientific bodies and committees.[22] The President of India honoured Mashelkar with Padma Shri (1991) and with Padma Bhushan (2000),[23] which are two of the highest civilian honours in recognition of his contribution to nation building. He was appointed an International Fellow[1] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[1] in 1996. In 2013, he was awarded Gomant Vibhushan Award, the highest civilian honour of the state of Goa.[24]

On 25 January 2014, he was awarded Padma Vibhushan, 2nd highest civilian honour of India by the President of India.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "List of Fellows". 
  2. ^ IChemE Gala Awards Programme, 25 October 2007 Welcome by IChemE President, Dr Ramesh Mashelkar
  3. ^ Curriculum vitae
  4. ^ CSIR
  5. ^ a b The Chemical Engineer, issue 800, Feb 2008, page 50
  6. ^ Global Research Alliance
  7. ^ National Innovation Foundation - India
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ http://www.ril.com/OurCompany/Innovation.aspx
  10. ^ "R.A. Mashelkar, F.R.S.". Essence. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Retrieved 1 June 2007. 
  11. ^ Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  12. ^ ‘National Auto Fuel Policy’
  13. ^ ‘A Comprehensive Examination of Drug Regulatory Issues, including the Problem of Spurious Drugs’
  14. ^ ‘ICAR reorganisation’
  15. ^ http://www.mashelkar.com/work/research-papers
  16. ^ a b Mitta, Manoj (22 February 2007). "Mashelkar takes back report after plagiarism row". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  17. ^ Park, Chan; Achal Prabhala (12 February 2007). "First attempt to dent a compromised patent system". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  18. ^ a b Bagla, Pallava (22 February 2007). "‘Plagiarism' in his panel’s report, Mashelkar tells Govt to withdraw it". The Indian Express. Retrieved 18 June 2007. 
  19. ^ Sharma, Ravi; Sara Hiddleston (22 February 2007). "Mashelkar committee on Patent Law withdraws report; seeks more time". The Hindu. Retrieved 18 June 2007. 
  20. ^ "Trash Mashelkar panel report on patent law: CPI-M". The Hindu. 22 February 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  21. ^ "`Scrap Mashelkar report'". The Hindu. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  22. ^ http://www.mashelkar.com/about/awards-and-recognitions
  23. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. 
  24. ^ "R A Mashelkar conferred Gomant Vibhushan award". The Times of India. May 31, 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  25. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 

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