Integration, Innovation & Inclusion: Pathways to Progress
By Dr.Raghunath Mashelkar, FRS

Hon’ble Chancellor, His Excellency the Governor of Odisha, Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, distinguished deans and faculty, the proud graduands and their equally proud parents, ladies and gentlemen.

I am privileged to be the Chief Guest for the second convocation of C. V. Raman Global University, an important milestone in the history of this young and aspirational university.

I am immensely grateful to this university for awarding me an Honorary Doctorate. This happens to be my 45th Honorary Doctorate, but the first one from this great state of Odisha. I accept this honour humbly. As a proud alumnus of our university,yes, I am using the word „our‟ purposely, I assure you that I will do my best to help it scale greater heights and enhance its honour and prestige.

I want to congratulate the graduands present here today for achieving a great milestone in your life. This is aspecial day in your life. I also want to congratulate your parents and teachers for giving you the best gift that they could have ever given you in life—education.

Universities can’t build the future of the youth, but they sure can build the youth of the future. You are fortunate that our university has equipped you with new-age skills and tools to create your future.

I am impressed by the remarkably rapid progress made by the university. Within a short period of time, it has become India's leading skills university; it's fantastic global medals can certainly make any university envious. Its unique pedagogy links knowledge and skills seamlessly and facilitates joyful, hands-onlearning experiences. After all, students must “enjoy” what they “do” and “do” what they “enjoy”. I am confident that our university will emerge as the world's preeminent skills university.

Three Pathways to Progress

There are just three pathways that can transform a university from good one to a great one. They are integration, innovation, and inclusion. Let me explain each of them.


Integration is multidimensional. It is integration in the journey of learning, doing, and delivering, it is integration across disciplines, it is integration across borders leading to globalization.

First, the challenge of integration from learning to delivering. In world- class universities, education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship are often integrated seamlessly. Education disseminates known knowledge. Research creates new knowledge. Innovation converts knowledge into agents of social good. However,to ensure that innovation and novel ideas create real-world impacts in our society, we need entrepreneurship. Our university is doing a remarkable job executing this integration, especially with the most important partner—industry. The advanced skills centres established with the help of industry partnerships are truly unique.

The second is integration across disciplines. Breakthroughs in research take place at the intersections of disciplines. Advances are generally the sum total of numerous creative ideas and interdisciplinary endeavors. Indeed, moving from ideas to impact is not a unidimensional process. It is similar to the intermeshed gears in a clock. The challenge before us is to enable this intermeshing. Therefore, what we require are not just chemical, mechanical, or computer engineers, but “solution engineers” and problem solvers, who are experts in integrating disciplines.

The third is the integration within and across national boundaries. Our university must be sensitive to the needs and the aspirations of the people and the society of Odisha, for which I have seen a great deal of laudable evidence. The word "global" university means we must espousea global outlook, and integrate diverse thoughts and cultures with an open mind and further the philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”..

I understand that our university has attracted 223 students from 25 countries even during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to exchange of knowledge and culture, there is a huge opportunity to build a brand in skill in India and across the globe. Besides this achievement in education, we must also foster productive global partnerships in research and innovation.

Looking to the future, the very character of internationalization will not only evolve but also spread rapidly due to the phenomenal advances in Information & Communication Technology. Digitization, virtualization, mobilization, and personalization are the four new megatrends. All these will lead to game-changing collaborative, self-organizing, self-correcting, asynchronous, dynamic, and open systems that are borderless.


Innovation is the successful implementation of a new idea in the market, industry, or society. It is the journey of creativity from minds to markets and from ideas to impact.

I am passionate about innovation. I remember receiving the JRD Corporate Leadership Award on 21st February 1999 from the then Hon’ble Vice President of India. I tried to set an agenda for the Indian innovation movement. I ended by expressing a hope.

“Finally, 1999 will be the year when we will launch a powerful national innovation movement to propel us into the next millennium. It is only through the process of innovation that knowledge can be converted into wealth for our society. Through this movement, every citizen, every constituent of India must become an innovator. 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 Indian must stand for innovation. It is only this innovative India that will signal to the rest of the world that we are not a hesitant nation, unsure of our place in the new global order, but a confident one, that is raring to go and be a leader in the comity of nations”.

I am happy to see a number of initiatives that have been spearheaded by our university. In terms of scientific research, I understand that 468 publications have been published and 45 patents have been filed. Now, the emphasis should be on raising the bar, aiming for breakthroughs in research, having a say not just in India but across the world.

It is paramount to convert invention into innovation. To that end, I am particularly happy about the creation of incubation centres and and the emergence of tech-driven startups that will promote entrepreneurship and raise the next generation of entrepreneurs at our university.

India has transitioned from a “starting-up” nation to the fastest growing “start-up” nation. It is shattering records by producing a unicorn almost every week. Unicorns are companies that are valued at more than one billion dollars.

My analysis suggests that almost 50% of the unicorn start-ups were born in elite institutions such as the IITs and IIMs, and the rest hail from tier 2 or tier 3 cities. This signifies the real democratization of innovation. I hope that we will see a unicorn emerging from our university sooner or later.

Finally innovation must be embraced as a way of life at our university. Hon'ble President Obama said that education and innovation are the currencies of the 21st century. I say that education in innovation and innovation in education are the currencies. This university must build on both.The classrooms must be reinvented to keep pace with changing times. It is the innovative combination of digital and physical learning that will nurture future winners.


India needs growth, but more importantly, it needs inclusive growth. No Indian should be left behind. This means education for all, and research and innovation that create products and services which are affordable and accessible to all.

Our university exemplifies the concept of inclusive education. I was very impressed with the Safal program that is based on the strong beliefs that skills can change life and that educating girls educates an entire nation.

This unique Safal program facilitates the education of orphan and destitute girls across the state.The girls benefit from different levels of education and learn new skills. The university bears the cost of their education. To my mind, this is inclusion in education at its best.

In the same way, research and innovation at our university must be inclusive. Let me explain by giving an example of such inclusive innovation: My mother Anjani Mashelkar brought me up against the odds that a poor, widowed, and uneducated woman faces. She asked me to never forget our humble beginnings and use science to help the poor. I created the Anjani Mashelkar Inclusive Innovation Award in her name after her passing. The award recognises and celebrates game-changing inclusive innovations that are affordable, tech-driven, scalable, and sustainable. The award honours those who create not just the best practice but also the next practice. Here are some examples ofinclusive innovation; five of the thirteen awardees in the last 11 years:

-iBreast is a high-quality and simple breast cancer screening that avoids painful mammography and is available for every woman at an affordable cost of $1 per scan.

-Sanket is a pocket-size, high-tech ECG machine that provides accurate reports immediately at the cost of ₹5 per test.

-Save Mom is an IoT-based maternal healthcare solution that remotely monitors pregnancies of poor rural women at the cost of ₹1 per day.

-Oral Scan is an innovative optical device that detects oral cancer rapidly and accurately at ₹250, as against a biopsy that typically costs ₹2500.

-Dozee is an IoT-based remote monitoring system with 98.4% medical accuracy; it converts any bed into an ICU bed injust 10 minutes at 10% of the cost of a full-fledged ICU system.

As I always like to say, science must solve, technology must transform, and innovation must impact. These five brilliant examples of inclusive innovations are transformative and affordable solutions that can save millions of lives.

Building Engineers for our Future

In order to be a leading university that raises world-class engineers, we must strengthen the minds as well as the mindsets of our engineering graduates so that they can help build a better future.

Much has been written about the mind of an engineer. For an engineer, two things are important. The first deals with learning habits of mind. These include curiosity, open-mindedness, resourcefulness, ability to reflect, resilience, ethical approach, and cooperation and collaboration.

Then there are engineering habits of mind. These include visualizing, analyzing, improving, adapting, systems thinking, problem finding, and finally creative problem-solving.

Our university must empower our students to develop the learning habits of mind as well as the engineering habits of mind.

An eminent education expert said that two-thirds of today's senior school students will end up in jobs that do not exist today. In that case, how do we impart future-ready skills to our students and prepare them for the digital age? While the nature and type of jobs will keep evolving, there are certain skills that are essential regardless of changing times. What are they?

It is generally agreed that the top 10 skills include complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, collaboration, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision making, service orientation, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility.

We test students by examining their domain knowledge, be it mechanical, electrical, or metallurgical engineering. We have to devise new tools of evaluation that assess students based on these top 10 skills.

Let us remind ourselves that the word “engineer” comes from the French word "“ingenieur”", that literally means “an ingenious one”. To my mind, our ingenuity guides us to explore new tools of knowledge from adjacent disciplines and is key to our success. Finally, I would like to quote the inspiring inscription on the Lamme Medal of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, USA: “The engineer views hopefully the hitherto unattainable”. I firmly believe that it is in this new interconnected world where the engineers from our university will not only “view” the unattainable but also“attain” the unattainable.

Five Mashelkar Mantras

The beginning of your own life is not in your hands, but where you end up is. So remember, your aspirations are your possibilities, therefore, always keep your aspirations high. You can’t predict your future at the beginning of your journey.

While studying Newton’s laws of motion in school, I did not realize that I would sign in the same book as Newton did and be ceremoniously inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.

Second, there is no substitute for hard work or success. Unlike instant coffee,success is a continuous pursuit.

I have worked 24x7, week after week, month after month, year after year, and will do so till I take my last breath. The golden rule is the following: work hard in silence; let your success make all the noise.

Third, purpose, perseverance, and passion matter. It is always too early to quit and never too late to start. Quitters are never winners and winners are never quitters. Interpret FAILURE as your first attempt in learning. Your best guru is your last mistake as long as you learn from it.

Fourth, strive to be a part of a solution, and not of a problem. If you can’t find the way, create your own ways. You will knock on many doors; don’t get frustrated if they don’t open. Create your own doors.

Fifth, human endurance, human achievement, and human imagination are all boundless. The only real limits are the self-imposed ones.

Be “limitless” in terms of your imagination. So every day when you wake up, no matter how old you are, say to yourself that my best is yet to come and today may be that day.

What it all boils down to

My young friends, my best wishes and choicest blessings will always be with you as you ascend this limitless ladder of excellence and bring glory not only to yourself, to your family, but also to our beloved university, state, and motherland.