Tribute to Sir Visvesvaraya

P K Nanda
“Work for a Cause, not for applause. Live life to Express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence Noticed, Just make your absence felt”
As a tribute to this genius Sir M Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, 15th September is celebrated every year in the country as “Engineers’ Day” to commemorate the birthday of the legendry Engineer Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. It was on this day in 1861, when the great legendry, eminent engineer and visionary son of India Sir M. Visvesvaraya was born to a Sanskrit Scholar cum Ayurvedic Practitioner Srinivasa Sastry and a religious lady Venkachamma in village Muddenahalli in district Kolar of erstwhile princely state of Mysore.
Educational qualifications
Sir Visvesvarya passed his matriculation in 1876 at the age of 15 years, did graduation in 1880 and later studied Civil Engineering at the college of Science Pune now known as College of Engineering Pune. Sir Visvesvarya led a very simple life. He was known for his honesty, integrity and discipline.
His Service Career
After completing his Civil Engineering Degree, he secured a guaranteed appointment as Assistant Engineer in Public works Department in Bombay Presidency in 1884. It was a privilege for a student who was standing first at Science College. He earned quick promotions by virtue of his merit and dint of hard work and rose to the highest position occupied by any Indian during the British Rule. During his tenure at Bombay his services were often requisitioned for organization of Irrigation, sanitary and water works in all parts of the Presidency. He laid down his office in Bombay in 1908 only after 24 years of service.
Immediately after his retirement, his services were requisitioned by the Nizam of Hyderabad as the city was reeling under floods. He was asked to advice and assist the Government in the reconstruction of Hyderabad city to frame proposals for future protection of city from floods. He completed his assignment within a short period and then left Hyderabad as he wanted to lead a quiet retired life. But it was not so. Immediately thereafter on great insistence from the Dewan of Mysore, he joined Mysore state in Nov. 1909 as a Chief Engineer and Secretary Railways. Three years later in 1912, he was appointed as Dewan of Mysore state by then Maharaja of Mysore. Before accepting the position of Dewan of Mysore, he invited all his relatives for dinner. He told them very clearly that he would accept the prestigious office on the condition that none of them would approach him for favours. Sir M. Visvesvarya an architect of many housing schemes but had no house of his own.
The Statesman
Today perhaps many people know Sir M. Visvesvaraya as one of the ablest Engineers of India and creator of KR Sagar Dam on Kaveri River and vrindavan gardens in Mysore, but very few really know his role as one of the builders of modern India, his role in industrializing India, his views on education, planning and so on.
He is undoubtedly the best known Engineer of India. He was an able administrator, educationist and a foresighted planner. His name ranks high among those who promoted industrialization of India. He is known for his dictum “Industrialize or perish”.
Sir M. Visvesvaraya was a strongly monitored officer and introduces Auditing of works for achieving of targets.
When it came to large scale Engineering project Sir M. Visvesvaraya was known to think beyond Engineering. He would take up a project only if he was convinced that is was economically feasible and that it served a social purpose. As Dewan of Mysore state, he was instrumental in galvanizing the state into progress. A number of industrial workshops, agriculture, schools and training institutes were set up. Public libraries were established. The university college of Engineering (Now known as University Visvesvaraya college of Engineering) & Maharani’s College of Women came into being.
In fact he established the Mysore University, as until then all the colleges in Mysore state were under the Madras University. Interestingly he had a tough fight on his hands to achieve this. His clinching argument was, “If Australia & Canada Have universities of their own for a population of less than a million, why cannot Mysore with the population of less than 6 million have a university of its own”?
Sir Visvesvaraya lived for 101 years, 6 months and 12 days and left for heavenly abode on 12th April’1962. But he left an indelible mark to be emulated and followed by all, particularly the Engineering fraternity. He once said, “Remember your work may only be to sweep a railway crossing, but it is your duty to keep it so clean that no other crossing in the world is as clean as yours”. This quote is a reflection of his obsession for perfection and excellence.
Bharat Ratna with a British knighthood
In recognization to his outstanding contribution to the society, Government of India conferred ‘Bharat Ratna’ on this legend in the year 1955.” He was also awarded the British knighthood by King George V, and hence has the honorific “sir”.
On 55th Engineers Day today, let us all resolve to make a better tomorrow by working on the ideals of this great visionary Engineer, because the development of any nation depends on the Engineers and in this hour of challenge, particularly the challenge, particularly the challenge of reconstruction of our country and our state in particular, Engineers have a pivotal role to play. All of us should take a pledge today to rededicate ourselves with greater zeal and selfness enthusiasm to the cause of rebuilding our country and our state, ensuring that our country becomes the most progressive and developed country of the world. So let us all work together to make our country and our state a better place to live in. This will indeed be our best tribute to the great visionary, engineer and statesmen Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya.
(The author is an engineer)

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