Raghunath Mashelkar advocates making innovation part of national agenda
“Finally, 1999 should be the year where we should launch a powerful national innovation movement to propel us into the next millennium. The I in India should not stand for imitation and inhibition, it must stand for innovation. The I in IIT must stand for innovation. The I in industry, the I in CSIR must stand for innovation. The I in every individual Indian must stand for innovation.”
So said Raghunath Mashelkar in 1998 in his closing remarks when he won the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award, the first scientist to win it. These same lines were his opening remarks at the Melting Pot 2020 Innovation Summit organised by Career Launcher Educate, an education platform, along with Kestone, an integrated sales and marketing services company.
The two-day event, being held in Hyderabad on November 14-15 brought people from the academia, corporate houses, research and innovation centres together to suggest ways to spur entrepreneurship among young people.
While delivering his conference keynote on the agenda of ‘Making Innovation Part of the National Agenda,’ Mashelkar came up with various one-liners elucidating his message for young entrepreneurs. He is a Fellow at the Royal Society, former Director General of CSIR and is currently the Chairman of India’s National Innovation Foundation, Reliance Innovation Council, Thermax Innovation Council, KPIT Technologies Innovation Council and Marico Innovation Foundation.
Excerpts from his talk and message to entrepreneurs:
1. If you have the art of listening, you learn
Mashelkar said innovation was not only a way of life but something that will propel the nation towards growth. There is enormous energy in India, and the idea is to spot the innovation.
2. Innovation should not be periphery, but the core
Expressing appreciation towards grassroots innovation, Mashelkar gave multiple examples of various innovations coming from small villages and towns. He said, “Everyone is someone and the 1.25 billion Indians are not just 1.25 mouths but 1.25 minds” that can drive innovation and be the change.
3. Leapfrog to pole vault
Mashelkar spoke about ‘Mission Kurukshetra’, a challenge by Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, to the 1.43 lakh employees of Reliance, which is aimed at seeking innovative ideas for the company’s next engine of growth. While the genesis of the mission came from Mashelkar, he stressed on innovative and sustainable growth within corporate houses.
4. Jugaad to systematic approach
Mashelkar said he is ‘dangerously optimist’ about how the association of academia and corporate entities can drive the change towards innovation. With the formation of various incubators and accelerators, he applauded the initiatives.
He added, “Research converts money into knowledge, innovation converts knowledge into money.”
5. Best practice to next practice
In his opinion, the key drivers of change are talent, technology, and trust. However, he said that in India, trust was a crucial factor as not many trust each other.
6. Incremental to disruptive innovation
By giving examples of how people of Indian origin like Satya Nadela and Sundar Pichai hold leadership positions in some of the biggest companies of the world, Mashelkar said he was optimistic that people of the next generation will create startups in India that will take over global giants.
7. Doing well by doing good
Lastly, Mashelkar spoke about the MLM Innovation. He said,
“The construct of the ecosystem lies in more performance from less resources for more people.”
His aim is to see innovation that is ten times better but ten times cheaper than before.