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Tribute to Sir M Vishveshwaraya, One of India’s Greatest Engineers on National Engineer’s Day

I love revisiting the biographies of great personalities. I am a voracious reader and like to share whatever knowledge I gain from reading.

Happy Engineer's Day

Happy Engineer's Day

Happy Engineer's Day

This year marks Sir Mokshagundam Vishveshwaraya's 160th birth anniversary. India celebrates his birth anniversary as National Engineer's day every year. His contribution to public good has left an indelible mark in the history of the country’s progress. His administrative acumen, attention to detail, vision, unwavering dedication and most importantly, transparency in public life have made him a legend to not only the engineers but all professionals worldwide.

I have always admired Sir MV. I believe that his brilliance, dedication, achievements, disciplined way of life make him a role model for the young generation who wish to make their mark in the engineering profession. A person of indomitable spirit and great strength of character, the shackles of poverty of pre-independence India could not constrain him. His journey from a civil engineer to the recipient of India’s highest honor, the Bharat Ratna, is motivational for us all.

Sir M.Vishveshwaraya

Sir M.Vishveshwaraya

Life and Career of Sir MV

He was born on September 15th 1861 in a small village in Karnataka, South India, in a Telugu Brahmin family. His father was a famous Sanskrit scholar. As a young boy, the richness of culture and tradition that he was exposed to was a good foundation for the success he achieved through hard work, dedication and discipline in his life. At the age of 12 after losing his father, though struggling with financial problems, he continued to work hard. He first pursued a degree in Arts and later went on and received his degree in civil engineering from the Pune college of Engineering.

After his successful tenure in the Public works Department of the then Bombay Government, Sir MV was invited to join the Indian Irrigation Commission where he proved his brilliance by devising innovative floodgates to raise the level of water storage in reservoirs. The automatic barrier water floodgate was first installed at the Khadakvasla reservoir in Pune. As a chief engineer, he was responsible for the Krishna Raja Sagar dam, Mysore in Karnataka.

Proving his Brilliance

Another feat that he achieved in his early career was a system to check sea erosion at the Vishakapatnam port. The then King of Mysore, Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, another visionary, invited Sir MV to lead the development of the Mysore kingdom as a Diwan. The king was a staunch supporter of Sir MV’s philosophy that ‘without industries a country cannot grow’. The results were spectacular. Sir MV went on to establish several industries that played an important role in the development of the state and the country, like the Mysore Iron and Steel works, the Mysore soap factory, State Bank of Mysore, the Mysore chamber of commerce, University Visveswaraya college of Engineering, Sri Jayachamrajendra Polytechnic, Century Club and many other industries.

The KRS dam is a testimony to his engineering skills, vision, and above all an example for people of all professions, on how one can contribute to public good and nation development. He was known for his punctuality, dedication, disciplined way of life and his impeccable neatness. He was responsible for the first railway line to be established in the Bangalore-Chikballapur Light Railway Project. He was responsible for introducing compulsory education in the state when he was Diwan of Mysore. This was later included as a fundamental right in the Constitution of Independent India.

True Patriot at Heart

Sir MV stands out as a true patriot and a Nationalist, at par with the leaders in their struggle to free India from the shackles of colonialism. He chose to serve the country as a professional, an engineer to free the country from poverty. He molded the initial and firm steps of self-reliance for the country. In an address at the Association of Engineers of Mysore in 1910, he said that in the west, expenditure on education is considered a national investment. He promptly followed up his words by establishing the University of Mysore, University of Agriculture, Bangalore and a polytechnic at Bangalore. Sir MV also espoused the cause of charity with the purpose of empowerment through self-reliance. A man of high principles and integrity, he dedicated his entire life in the service of the nation. Jawaharlal Nehru’s tribute to Sir MV on his centenary celebrations held in Bangalore in 1960 aptly summarizes the greatness of this son of Karnataka.

Dreamer, thinker, and a man of action, not lost in the past but always thinking of the future, living an integrated life, bringing into existence and giving shape to dreams not for himself but for India and the people of India.

— Jawaharlal Nehru

Fame Followed Sir MV

King George V knighted Sir MV as a Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire for his contribution to public good. He was also awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest honor in India, in 1955. He was never interested in fame or publicity. Nevertheless, fame came automatically to him, as every university in India sought after him to confer him with honors and laurels. Some of the laurels conferred on him are Doctorate- LLD, Mysore University, D.Litt., Andhra University, Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Town planners, India, Honorary Life Member of the Institute of Engineers (India), LLD, Bombay, DSc., Calcutta, Fellowship of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, to name a few.

His birth anniversary is not a reminder for engineers alone. His life and values, vision, his contribution to public good and nation building beyond the realm of one’s profession are relevant to all fields, even today. His life, values, and work need to be incorporated in the curriculum to inspire the youth about their duty to contribution to nation-building in whatever profession they choose.

Interesting Anecdotes of Sir MV

Some of the stories revolve around him being a stickler for punctuality, and him being a strict disciplinarian. There are other recorded facts about his sense of honesty, integrity and professionalism. He was also known to be neat and impeccably dressed at all times.

He was a man of values. It is said that before accepting the post of Diwan of Mysore, he first obtained the assurance of his family members that they would not seek any official favors from him in his position as the Diwan.

Sir MV believed that Industrialization was important for a country to progress economically and socially. His motto was ’Industrialize or perish, but Mahatma Gandhi’s was Industrialize and perish’. When Gandhiji launched the non-cooperation movement in 1921, Sir MV did not agree with him. In fact, he wrote a letter to Gandhiji asking him to be better dressed before presenting himself at the Round Table Conference. He himself was always immaculately dressed.

The Engineering Accomplishments of Sir MV that Particularly Stand Out

> The Krishna Raja Sagar Dam across the river Cauvery. Sir MV proposed the building of the dam as a way to deal with the drought that was rampant in the then Mysore State, and also to provide electricity to the nearby areas. It turned out to be one of Asia’s largest dams. He invented what is called the block system of irrigation which distributed the benefits of an irrigation system over a large number of villages and prevented misuse or wastage of water.

> The Flood Protection System in Hyderabad: The floods caused by the river Musi, a tributary of River Krishna was devastating. In 1908, one such flood caused unprecedented havoc in the city. Sir MV’s help was sought to find a solution to the problem. He suggested creating storage reservoirs above the city level, to store water that exceeded the river’s carrying capacity. This resulted in the creation of Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs along with a modern system of underground drainage.

Final Thoughts

Sir MV passed away on 12tn April 1962 at the age of 102, after having led a life of high principles, great achievements, immense contribution to the country and public good. His legacy lives on as proof of his love for his country and countrymen. His brilliance par excellence helped improve the lives of innumerable people. His vision was instrumental in leading India on the path of progress, soon after Independence. He will continue to inspire not only engineers but professionals in all fields at all times. He will continue to live in the hearts and ethos of his countrymen for centuries to come.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.



VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 22, 2021:

Thanks Misbah for the visit and kind comments. Yes I have also faced this problem. I read an article and when I try to comment it seems to disappear. I wonder when it will be set right. I am so glad you enjoyed reading about Sir MV. Have a great week, stay blessed.

Misbah Sheikh on September 22, 2021:

Hello, Vidya. I'm happy this article is now visible on my feed. I read it about three days ago but couldn't find it in my feed and gave up hope. This is a very well-written and informative piece about a great personality. I enjoyed reading it.

Thank you for sharing.

Many blessings to you!!

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 22, 2021:

Thanks Lora for the visit and kind comments. Much appreciated. Yes Sir MV was a great visionary who put to practical use his knowledge as an Engineer for improving people's lives. The reservoirs, Dam's, irrigation systems that he envisaged have helped millions of people in our country. The educational institutions started by him have improved the lives of generations of youngsters . His life and accomplishments are truly inspirational. Thanks again, have a wonderful week and stay blessed dear friend.

Lora Hollings on September 22, 2021:

You did an awesome job at writing this article, Vidya. I learned so much about this great engineer who was so revered not only in his home country but in many others too. What an amazing person who did so much for his country and what a legacy he's left behind him. I thoroughly enjoyed your article! Thanks for sharing.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 21, 2021:

Thanks Manatita Sir for your inspiring words. I agree with you, it is divine grace that our country had such great leaders like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and many others who strove to awaken the people and remind them of the rich spiritual heritage of the country and their duty towards their motherland. It is their srruggles and sacrifices that has made India what it is today. I appreciate your deep insight into the culture and history of our country and am grateful to you for sharing your knowledge and your reverence for Bharat mata's seers. Have a great week ahead and stay blessed my friend.

manatita44 from london on September 21, 2021:

India has suffered, true, like my African ancestors. Yet the Divine always compensates. She gave you Netaji Subash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh; Aurobindo and Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna left you with Vivekananda who was a tremendous force, in awakening the Indian soul and consciousness.

Gandhi contributed in a different way and Bose, the scientist, did unspoken miracles with plants and flowers. jai Bharat Mata! Jai to Its awesome Seers!

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 20, 2021:

Thanks Manatita for the encouraging comments. Much appreciated. What a wonderful insight saying that Sir MV was a vibhuti sent by God. I agree with you. His exemplary life and accomplishments are a source of inspiration to the young professionals today in whatever field they choose. Have a great week ahead, dear friend.

manatita44 from london on September 20, 2021:

A beautiful account of a seemingly very noble soul. Some are Vibhuti's, sent by God at a time when they are most needed. They leave a mark not only on the Indian, but on the world Consciousness. Yes, they do not seek fame, but fame, nevertheless, does come to them by virtue of an exemplary life. A most wonderful Read.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 18, 2021:

Thanks Flourish for the visit and kind comments. Yes Sir MV and Gandhi had different ideologies. Gandhiji's attire was symbolic of the masses of the country which he was leading on the path to independence. On the other hand, Sir MV believed in dressing properly always. Each had their own principles and believed in following it in their way. But both were Patriots in their own way and had the country's interest at heart. Both had a huge role in making India what it is today and are revered by our people Have a blessed day and a great week, dear friend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 18, 2021:

I had never heard of him or his contributions. I thought it was a bit humorous that he asked Ghandi to be a little bitter dressed in some situations, Cannot say that I disagree.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 17, 2021:

Thanks Chitrangada for the visit and comments. Congrats on having three engineers in the family and celebrating Engineer's day. They play a vital role in the economy of our country. There are a few in our family too. While wishing them, I remembered the accomplishments of Sir MV and decided to write an article about him. I am glad you liked it. Have a great weekend, hlessings and love.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 17, 2021:

Hello Vidya ji!

A wonderful description of Sir M Vishveshwaraya, and his immense contributions to India. A well written and informative article indeed.

We celebrated Engineers Day on 15th September, as there are four engineers in my family.

Thank you for sharing this valuable information for the benefit of the readers.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 16, 2021:

Thanks Emge for the visit and comments. I have always admired Sir M V for his brilliant contribution to public good, his immense work in the field of education. India is what it is today due to his belief and dedicated efforts in industrialization right after independence. We need more leaders like him who selflessly serve the country in their chosen professional field. Have a great day and a blessed time ahead.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 16, 2021:

Hi Bill, thanks for the visit and comments. Much appreciated. I am glad you liked the article. Sir M V was a brilliant and fascinating personality. His engineering acumen was par excellence. The KRS dam at Mysore and the flood protection system in Hyderabad and various educational institutions and industries are testimony to his brilliance. Have a blessed and wonderful day friend.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 16, 2021:

He was a genius, nice of you to have written about him

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 16, 2021:

I couldn't find this in the feed earlier. Thankfully it just popped up. Wonderful article about a fascinating man. Thanks for sharing!

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 15, 2021:

Thanks Pamela for your kind comments. I am glad you liked the article and found it interesting. Sir MV was truly a genius. His Engineering accomplishments have saved millions of people in the country. His outstanding work in the field of irrigation, education, infrastructure development are remembered by our people even today. His dedication, discipline, patriotism, honesty, integrity are a source of inspiration for young professionals in not only Engineering but all fields of work. His birth anniversary is a reminder of his greatness to all of us.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on September 15, 2021:

Thanks Peggy for the kind comments. I am glad you enjoyed learning of Sir MV. Yes he was truly an extraordinarily brilliant leader. He has done wonderful work in various fields like infrastructure, education, finance, etc. His immense work in nation building has helped our country progress a lot after Independence. His life and achievements are a source of inspiration to young professionals for generations to come.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 15, 2021:

This is an amazing man, and I understand why you would celebrate his life, Vidya. I did not know much about him before, so you well-documented article was very interesting to me. Thank you for sharing all of this information.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 15, 2021:

What an amazing man who left a legacy behind worthy of admiration. I enjoyed learning about Sir M Vishveshwaraya and National Engineers Day. Thanks for writing this article, Vidya.

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