At the inaugural Sustainability Award Ceremony hosted by the Shroff Foundation in Pune on December 6, 2023, Dr. R A Mashelkar, renowned scientist and former director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), delivered an impassioned speech emphasizing the critical importance of sustainable practices in today's world.

As he took the stage, Dr. Mashelkar's presence commanded attention, his words carrying the weight of years of expertise and dedication to scientific progress. Addressing the esteemed audience, he began by expressing his gratitude to the Shroff Foundation for spearheading initiatives that recognize and celebrate sustainability efforts.

Dr. Mashelkar began, "we find ourselves facing unprecedented challenges brought on by climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. The urgency of the situation demands decisive action, and it is heartening to see organizations like the Shroff Foundation taking the lead in promoting sustainability."

Dr. Mashelkar underscored the need for collective action, emphasizing that individual efforts, while commendable, are not sufficient to address the scale of the challenges ahead. "We must move beyond mere rhetoric and embrace action leadership," he urged. "It is not enough to talk about sustainability; we must embody it in our actions, both as individuals and as organizations."

Decarbonization emerged as a central theme in Dr. Mashelkar's discourse. He stressed the imperative of reducing carbon emissions to mitigate the impacts of climate change. "Decarbonization is not just a buzzword; it is a moral imperative," he declared. "We must transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources and adopt carbon-neutral practices across all sectors of society."

Furthermore, Dr. Mashelkar highlighted the importance of decentralization in fostering resilience and sustainability. "Centralized systems often exacerbate environmental degradation and inequality," he explained. "Decentralization empowers local communities, promotes resource efficiency, and reduces vulnerabilities to systemic shocks."

He also said that India had always been a country that could do more from less, and that this was the essence of Gandhian Engineering, which he had coined and propagated. He said that India had the potential to become a global leader in innovation, and that it needed to combine technology and policy to achieve this. He said that India also needed to balance the four Es: environment, ecology, ethics, and equity, and that this was the true meaning of sustainability. 

Throughout his speech, Dr. Mashelkar painted a compelling vision of a future where sustainability is not just a goal but a way of life. He spoke of harnessing the power of innovation and technology to drive sustainable development, emphasizing the role of science and research in finding solutions to pressing environmental challenges.

In conclusion, Dr. Mashelkar reiterated the need for concerted action and visionary leadership to build a more sustainable future for generations to come. "The time for action is now," he asserted. "Let us commit ourselves to the cause of sustainability, not just in words but in deeds. Together, we can create a world where prosperity is harmonized with environmental stewardship, and where every individual has the opportunity to thrive in harmony with nature."