- Born on September 15, 1861, in the Muddenahalli village of Karnataka, Visvesvaraya completed his school education in his hometown and later on went to study Bachelor of Arts at the University of Madras. He then pursued a diploma in civil engineering at the College of Science in Pune.
- Having played a role in major public works projects across the nation, he later served as the 19th Dewan of Mysore and wrote two books on the Indian economy. Here is a look at his life and his legacy.
- After completing his engineering from the Poona College of Science, Visvesvaraya accepted an offer to work as an Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department (PWD) of the Government of Bombay
- He was 22 at the time and one of his first projects was to construct a pipe syphon across one of Panjra river’s channels. On November 15, 1909, he joined the Mysore service as Chief Engineer, ultimately assuming the position of the 19th Dewan of Mysore
- However, he took voluntary retirement in 1918 because he did not agree with the proposal to set aside state jobs for the “non-brahmin” community.
- After his retirement, he presided as chairman or became a member of various committees including the Bombay Technical and Industrial Education Committee, Bombay University Committee for Promoting Chemical Industries and the Cauvery Canal Committee.
Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was a renowned Indian engineer and statesman who made significant contributions to the field of engineering and played a crucial role in the development of infrastructure in India. Some of his most significant engineering works and contributions include:
Krishna Raja Sagara Dam: Visvesvaraya is best known for his role in designing and supervising the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam (KRS Dam) across the river Kaveri in the state of Karnataka. The dam, completed in 1931, serves as a major water reservoir, providing water for irrigation and drinking purposes to the surrounding regions. It also produces hydroelectric power.
Block System: Visvesvaraya introduced the automatic weir water floodgates, which became known as the "Visvesvaraya trap" and the "block system." This innovative engineering solution allowed for efficient management of water resources in dams, preventing wastage and ensuring controlled water flow.
Flood Control and Irrigation: Visvesvaraya played a pivotal role in the development of irrigation and flood control systems in various parts of India, including the Mysore Plateau and the Deccan region. His work in this area greatly contributed to agricultural development and water resource management.
Public Works Department: Visvesvaraya served as the Chief Engineer of the Mysore State and later as the Diwan (Prime Minister) of Mysore from 1912 to 1919. During his tenure as Diwan, he implemented numerous infrastructure projects, including road and rail networks, that improved connectivity and transportation in the state.
Industrial Development: Visvesvaraya was a proponent of industrialization in India and played a role in setting up several industries, including the Bhadravati Iron and Steel Works in Karnataka. This project was instrumental in promoting industrial growth in the region.
Flood Protection in Hyderabad: He was also involved in designing a flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad, which helped mitigate the damage caused by the Musi River floods.
Planning and Education: Visvesvaraya was a strong advocate for scientific and technical education in India. He played a significant role in the establishment of educational institutions like the Government Engineering College in Bangalore (now known as Visvesvaraya Technological University) and contributed to the development of engineering education in India.
Honors and Awards: In recognition of his contributions, Visvesvaraya was awarded several prestigious honors, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1955.
- During his three-month visit to Japan in 1898, Visvesvaraya realised that education largely determines the health of an economy.
- In his, “Memoirs of Working Life”, which was published in 1951, he noted that while in Japan there were some 1.5 million girls in school, there were only over 400,000 of them in Indian schools, “notwithstanding the vastly greater population in our country”
- Visvesvaraya was instrumental in the setting up of the University of Mysore in July 1916, as he was the Dewan of Mysore at the time.
- He believed that the aim of an educational institution should be in line with the “state of the country’s civilisation and of its material prosperity”, and that the conditions inside a university should not be very different from the ones a student has to encounter in real life
- After taking a voluntary retirement from state service in 1918, he continued work including on the Mysore Iron and Steel Works and established the Sir Jayachamarajendra Occupational Institute in Bangalore in 1943, which was later renamed Sir Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic.
- This institute was meant to impart special training to technicians keeping in mind the impending industrial development of India.