ir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, KCIE (popularly known as Sir MV; 15 September 1861 – 12 April 1962) was an Indian engineer, scholar, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. He is a recipient of the Indian Republic’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955. He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire (KCIE) by King George V for his contributions to the public good. Every year, on his birthday, 15 September is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India in his memory. He is held in high regard as a pre-eminent engineer of India. He was the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mysore as well as the chief designer of the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad.
Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was born on 15 September 1860, into a Mulukanadu Brahmin (Smartha Brahmins)Telugu family to Mokshagundam Srinivasa Shastry and Venkatalakshmamma in Muddenahalli village, Chickkaballapur District,(Bifurcated from Kolar District ). 60 miles from Bangalore, Mysore State (now Karnataka), India. Visvesvaraya lost his father at the age of 12. He enrolled for primary school in Chikballapur and attended high school in Bangalore. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Central College, Bangalore then affiliate of the University of Madras in 1881 and later studied civil engineering at the prestigious College of Engineering, Pune
Upon graduating as an engineer from the College of Science Pune, Visvesvaraya took a job with the Public Works Department (PWD) of Mumbai and was later invited to join the Indian Irrigation Commission. He implemented an extremely intricate system of irrigation in the Deccan area.
He also designed and patented a system of automatic weir water floodgates that were first installed in 1903 at the Khadakvasla Reservoir near Pune. These gates were employed to raise the flood supply level of storage in the reservoir to the highest level likely to be attained without causing any damage to the dam. Based on the success of these gates, the same system was installed at the Tigra Dam in Gwalior and the Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) Dam in Mandya/Mysore, Karnataka.
In 1906–07, the government of India sent him to Aden to study their water supply and drainage system. The project prepared by him was implemented in Aden successfully.
Visvesvaraya achieved celebrity status when he designed a flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad. He was instrumental in developing a system to protect Visakhapatnam port from sea erosion. Visvesvaraya supervised the construction of the KRS Dam across the Kaveri River from concept to inauguration. This dam created the biggest reservoir in Asia when it was built.
He was called the “Father of modern Mysore state” (now Karnataka): During his service with the government of Mysore state, he was responsible for the founding of (under the patronage of the Mysore government) the Mysore Soap Factory, the Parasitoide Laboratory, the Mysore Iron & Steel Works (now known as Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Limited) in Bhadravathi, the Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic Institute, the Bangalore Agricultural University, the State Bank of Mysore, The Century Club, Mysore Chambers of Commerce, University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering, Bangalore and numerous other industrial ventures. He encouraged private investment in industry during his tenure as Diwan of Mysore. He was instrumental in charting out the plan for road construction between Tirumala and Tirupati. He was known for sincerity, time management and dedication to a cause.
After opting for voluntary retirement in 1908, he took a foreign tour to study industrialised nations and after, for a short period he worked for the Nizam of Hyderabad, India. He suggested flood relief measures for Hyderabad town, which was under constant threat of floods by Musi river. Later, during November 1909, Visvesvaraya was appointed as Chief Engineer of Mysore State. Further, during the year, 1912, he was appointed as Diwan (second Minister) of the princely state of Mysore. He was Diwan for 7 years.
With the support of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, Maharaja of Mysore, Visvesvaraya made good contribution as Diwan to the all-round development of Mysore state. Not only the achievements listed above, but many other industries and public works owe their inception or active nurturing to him. He was instrumental in the founding of the Government Engineering College at Bangalore in 1917, one of the first engineering institutes in India. This institution was later named the University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering after its founder. He also commissioned several new railway lines in Mysore state.
Visvesvaraya was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1911.In 1915, while he was the Diwan of Mysore, Visvesvaraya was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) by the British for his myriad contributions to the public good. After India attained independence, he was awarded with the nation’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955. He was feted with honorary membership of the international Institution of Civil Engineers (based in London) and a fellowship of the Indian Institute of Science (based in Bangalore). He was awarded several honorary doctoral degrees like D.Sc., LL.D., D.Litt. from eight universities in India. He was president of the 1923 Session of the Indian Science Congress. Sir M.V. was awarded honorary Membership of London Institution of Civil Engineers for an unbroken 50 years. He was the most popular person from Karnataka, in a newspaper survey conducted by Prajavani.
Visvesvaraya has received recognition in various fields, most notably the education sector and the engineering sector. Visvesvaraya Technological University which is based in Belgaum, the University to which most engineering colleges in Karnataka are affiliated to, has been named in his honour, as well as prominent colleges like University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering, Bangalore, Sir M. Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bangalore and Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur. College of Engineering, Pune, his alma mater, has erected a statue in his honor.The Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, a museum in Bangalore is named in his honor.
The Visvesvaraya National Memorial Trust manages a memorial of Visvesvaraya at his birthplace Muddenahalli. The memorial exhibits his awards, titles and personal belongings, including his living room, spectacles, cups, his copy of the Webster’s dictionary, and a block with which his visiting cards were printed. Models of the Krishna Raja Sagar dam, which Visvesvaraya designed and supervised the construction of, are also exhibited. The memorial is located adjacent to his house, which was refurbished and regarded as a temple by the locals.