When talking about successes, Dr. Mashelkar believes it’s just as important to look at failures and what we can learn from them. Reflecting on his own successes and failures and helping others learn from his own experiences, he has created a book of his own life featuring what he calls his five Mashelkar Mantras. These are as follows:
- Aspirations are your possibilities, so keep them high.
- You must have purpose, perseverance, and passion, for yourself, your society, your nation, and the whole world. Perseverance is important as quitters are never winners and winners are never quitters.
- Hard work is vital. There is no such thing as instant success, it’s all toil. Dr. Mashelkar is 79 but still works 24 hours a day, month after month, year after year. As he says, “Work hard in silence and let your success make all the noise.”
- Create your own doors. If there is no opportunity, make your own. Regarding the importance of creating your own opportunities, Dr. Mashelkar gives an example from his own life. Unable to find funding for equipment for his line of study, he instead changed his focus of study. The result was his being awarded the Bhatnagar Prize, one of India’s highest scientific awards for his new work in modeling and simulation. As he says, “create your own doors”.
- There is no limit to Human endurance or achievement. Again, Dr. Mashelkar draws on his own experiences to give an example of the importance of exceeding the limits you put on yourself. He recalls the reaction of his mentor, Professor Rao, India’s most celebrated scientist. When Dr. Mashelkar became a fellow of the Royal Society, his mentor’s response was simply ‘not bad’. He gave the same short response when Dr. Mashelkar received an American Academy Award in Science; only the seventh person to receive this. After further similar short responses, Dr Mashelkar one day asked his mentor what he had to do to impress him. His mentor told him that he was climbing a limitless ladder of excellence, and this was just one rung of many. Dr Mashelkar understood instantly that no matter what he achieved, the best was still to come.
Trust in yourself
Having lived such an interesting and varied life, Dr. Mashelkar believes in the importance of potential, and what must be done to realise this. When asked what advice he would give his younger self, Dr Mashelkar stresses the importance of trusting yourself that you can meet and exceed your potential. He refers to a story told to him by Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder. As an 18-year-old college dropout, Gates recalls telephoning a company manufacturing computer hardware and offering his software to them. Instead of telling this young man to go away, the company said to come back in one month. Gates says this was fortunate as he had not yet made the software he was trying to sell! It is this self-confidence that Dr. Mashelkar believes each of us needs to succeed.
A changing India
With India changing and experiencing such growth, Western governments need to reassess their approach to India in terms of the emergence of the digital world and immigration. What worked for governments 10 years ago is no longer suitable or relevant, yet there still appears little change in their approach. Referring to this, Dr. Mashelkar stresses the importance of openness, likening our minds to parachutes that only work when opened. He added, “We are all missing out on the benefits of being one global family because of extreme nationalism. Openness in terms of thinking and creating new models is the way forward”.
A green and positive future
In terms of what the future holds out for all of us, Dr. Mashelkar points to the pandemic as being almost a trailer for what the effects of climate change will be in terms of global pressures on supply and demand channels. Such effects have given all of us the opportunity to see what can happen to global trade when climate change starts to be felt more. Whilst stating that not learning this lesson is the worst-case scenario, Dr. Mashelkar also offers a more hopeful view. He said, “The other scenario is that better sense prevails when dealing with climate change. It is not a single nation problem; we are all together in this. The hope is we realise the futures of our grandchildren and their great-grandchildren matter, that the future of Humanity matters. When this happens, we can work together as one family.”