Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya (Kannada:ಸರ್ ಮೋಕ್ಷಗುಂಡಂ ವಿಸ್ವೆಸ್ವರಯ್ಯ) was an eminent engineer and statesman and played a key role in building of modern India.
Sir M. Visvesvarayya was born on September 15, 1860 in Muddenahalli village in the Kolar district of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore (present day Karnataka). His father Srinivasa Sastry was a Sanskrit scholar and Ayurveda practitioner. His mother Venkachamma was a religious lady. He lost his father when he was only 15 years old.
Visvesvarayya completed his early education in Chikballapur and then went to Bangalore for higher education. He cleared his B.A. Examination in 1881. He got some assistance from the Government of Mysore and joined the Science College in Poona to study Engineering. In 1883 he ranked first in the L.C.E. and the F.C.E. Examinations (equivalent to B.E. Examination of today).
Career as an Engineer:
When Sir M. Visvesvarayya cleared his engineering, Government of Bombay offered him a job and appointed him Assistant Engineer at Nasik. As an engineer, he achieved some marvellous feats. He planned a way of supplying water from the river Sindhu to a town called Sukkur. He devised a new irrigation system called the Block System. He devised steel doors to stop the wasteful flow of water in dams. He was the architect of the KrishnarajaSagara dam in Mysore. The list is endless.
As Dewan of Mysore:
Sir M. Visvesvarayyaled a very simple life. He was a strict vegetarian and a teetotaller. He was known for his honesty and integrity. In 1912, Maharaja of Mysore appointed Visvesvarayya as his Dewan. 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. As Dewan of Mysore, he worked tirelessly for educational and industrial development of the state. When he was the Dewan many new industries came up. The Sandal Oil Factory, the Soap Factory, the Metals Factory, the Chrome Tanning Factory were some of them. Of the many factories he started the most important is the Bhadravati Iron and Steel Works.
Retirement and demise:
Sir M. Visvesvarayya voluntarily retired as Dewan of Mysore in 1918. He worked actively even after his retirement. Sir M. Visvesvarayya was honoured with Bharat Ratna in 1955 for his invaluable contribution to the nation. When he reached the age of 100, the Government of India brought out a stamp in his honour. Sir Visvesvarayya passed away on April 14, 1962 at the age of 101.
Honours and Laurels conferred:
- 1904: Honorary Membership of London Institution of Civil Engineers for an unbroken period of 50 years
- 1906: “Kaisar-i-Hind” in recognition of his services
- 1911: C.I.E. (Companion of the Indian Empire) at the Delhi Durbar
- 1915: K.C.I.E. (Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire)
- 1921: D.Sc. – Calcutta University
- 1931: LLD – Bombay University
- 1937: D.Litt. – Benares Hindu University
- 1943: Elected as an Honorary Life Member of the Institution of Engineers (India)
- 1944: D.Sc. – Allahabad University
- 1948: Doctorate – LLD. Mysore University
- 1953: D.Litt. – Andhra University
- 1953: Awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Town Planners, India
- 1955: Conferred ‘ BHARATHA RATNA’
- 1958: ‘Durga Prasad Khaitan Memorial Gold Medal’ by the Royal Asiatic Society Council of Bengal
- 1959: Fellowship of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore