One of India’s finest engineers

Visvesvaraya is a household name in Karnataka. There are roads, localities, educational institutions, manufacturing facilities, museums, among other things, named after him in the state.

Sir M. Visvesvaraya (1860-1962) was an eminent civil engineer, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore. He was responsible for the design and implementation of several irrigation, dam, water supply and flood protection projects all over India. For his contributions to the public good, the Queen knighted him in 1915.

Hard work and pride in work were his hallmarks.

Remember, your work may be only 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.

– Sir M. Visvesvaraya

While he was the Diwan of Mysore, he established the state’s first engineering college in the Cubbon Park vicinity in Bangalore, in 1917. It was called College of Engineering in those days, as a part of Mysore University. Subsequently it was renamed University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering (UVCE) and currently is the only engineering college in Bangalore University. Most of the other colleges in the state (including BMSCE, where I studied) are now affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University, that was established by the Karnataka government in 1998.

Undoubtedly, he was one of the finest engineering brains and his birthday is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India.

(Picture received as a Whatsapp forward)

Apart from the Queen, Independent India too honoured Sir MV, conferring him with the Bharat Ratna award in 1955. Till this day, after more than 60 years of the award and with 48 recipients, he remains the only engineer to have received this honour from the Indian Government.

On his 100th birthday in 1960, Sir MV saw himself on a stamp. Only eight people have been featured on an Indian postage stamp during their lifetime, and at that time Sir MV was the second person to receive this honour.

Stamp issued in 1960 (Photo: Wiki Commons)

One other significant thing Sir MV did was to establish The Century Club, in the same Cubbon Park area as the engineering college in Bangalore. He was motivated, after a visit to Bangalore Club, then known as Bangalore United Services Club. The staff of the club had asked him to take off the Mysore turban that he always wore, and put on an English cap if he wanted to enter the club. During those days most of the clubs were only for the Britishers, so being allowed inside was in itself a big thing. This disturbed him no end and he decided to start a club that would allow Indians with no strings attached. On his request, Krishnaraja Wadiyar, who was the Mysore Maharaja at the time, sanctioned space in Cubbon Park, and The Century Club was founded in 1917 with 100 members. Sir M. Visvesvaraya was the first President of the Club. Through the club, Sir M. Visvesvaraya was keen to promote what he felt was good in English society, particularly their orderly habits, punctuality, restraint in speech and social behaviour. (Source: Century Club resources)

To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money

– Sir M. Visvesvaraya

Today, more than ever, India needs engineers who put public good before anything else.

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