‘It is better to work out than rust out.’ – Sir M Visvesvaraya
This quote by Sir M Visvesvaraya defined him throughout his life. Popularly known as Sir MV, Visvesvaraya was held in high regard as a pre-eminent engineer of India. He was recognised for engineering the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam in Mysuru and was one of the chief design engineers for bringing up a system for flood protection in Hyderabad. To commemorate the birth anniversary of Sir M Visvesvaraya and honour his achievements, every year September 15 is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
Sir Visvesvaraya completed his primary education in Karnataka’s Chikballapur. It is said that he had to go through many hardships during his studies. This was also majorly due to the early loss of his father when Sir MV was 12. For his high school education, he went to Bangalore and in 1881, he completed his graduation in Arts. Later, Sir Visvesvaraya pursued civil engineering from the College of Science in Pune. After that, he got a job with the PWD of Mumbai and started as an assistant engineer.
Pre-eminent engineer of India
Sir MV undertook many complex engineering projects during his lifetime that earned him recognition. One of his most important projects was installing an irrigation system with water floodgates at the Khadakvasla reservoir near Pune to raise the food supply level and storage to the highest levels known as ‘block system’ in 1903. He also registered for a patent for this system. Sir MV also served as the 19th Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1919 and during his tenure as the Diwan, in 1915 he was awarded ‘Knight’ as a commander of the British Indian Empire by King George V, hence the prefix ‘Sir’. For his contributions, the government awarded him with India’s highest honour ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1955.
Among his many titles and names, Sir Visvesvaraya was also called the ‘Father of Modern Mysore’. He was responsible for numerous structures in Mysuru like the Brindavan Gardens, the State Bank of Mysore, the Mysore sugar mills, among others.
Sir MV was asked to resign as the Diwan of Mysore in 1918 when he openly opposed reservation in government services as he was a strong advocate of meritocracy and wanted schools be opened for children of backward classes. Sir Visvesvaraya passed away at an age of 101 on April 14, 1962.