Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was the preeminent engineer of India whose skills and knowledge were used for good of the public. Sir MV, as he was popularly known, was one of the finest engineers, a highly respected statesman and a visionary thinker – qualities that earned him India’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna.
Sir Visvesvaraya, who was born in Muddenahalli, a village in Karnataka, in September 1860, is best-known as the chief designer of the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad as well as the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mysore.
A bright student, Sir Visvesvaraya completed his high school education from Wesley Mission High School and his graduation from Central College, in Bengaluru. He then pursued a course in civil engineering at the prestigious College of Engineering in Pune, where he was awarded the James Berkley Gold Medal for outstanding performance. He led a simple life, was a strict vegetarian, and a teetotaler.
Sir Visvesvaraya had many engineering marvels to his credit, such as, designing and patenting a system of automatic weir water floodgates that were first installed in 1903 at the Khadakvasla Reservoir near Pune.
He also founded the Mysore Soap Factory, the Parasitoide Laboratory, the Mysore Iron & Steel Works (now known as Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Ltd) in Bhadravathi, Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic Institute, Bangalore Agricultural University, State Bank of Mysore, Century Club, Mysore Chambers of Commerce, and other industrial ventures.
Jawaharlal Nehru once described Sir Visvesvaraya as “a 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.
Little wonder, his birthday on September 15 is observed as Engineers Day in India.