Engineers' Day 2020: The Story of M. Visvesvaraya, the First Engineer of India

Engineers' Day 2020: The Story of M. Visvesvaraya, the First Engineer of India

Every year on the 15th of September, Engineers’ Day is celebrated in India. The day is celebrated as a tribute to the first, and one of the greatest ever engineer hailing from India Sir M. Visvesvaraya. M. Visvesvaraya was an expert in irrigation techniques and flood management and became famous for his pioneering work in modern irrigation techniques, as well as, flood control and mitigation. He was also referred to as the precursor of economic planning in India.

Early Life & Childhood

India’s legendary dam builder Sir MV was born in 1861 to a poor Telegu family at Chikkaballapur, a little over 50 km from Bengaluru. His parents were well regarded Sanskrit scholars. Sir Visvesvaraya completed his primary education from his hometown itself, and later moved to the city of Bengaluru for pursuing his higher studies in Arts. He later changed his career path and pursued a civil engineering degree from the College of Engineering, Pune. Sir M. Visvesvaraya always believed that deep down he was an innovator. From Pune, he completed his engineering degree-holding expertise in irrigation and flood disaster management.

Work & Legacy

After completing his degree, Sir MV earned a license in civil engineering from the University of Bombay and began working with erstwhile Bombay’s Public Works Division. He would later join the Indian Irrigation Commission. His claim to fame came because of his groundbreaking work in the irrigation fields. He designed the revolutionary ‘automatic barrier water floodgates’ – which was first installed in Pune in 1903 at Khadakvasla reservoir. After serving as an engineer for four decades, M. Visvesvaraya would later become the architect behind Krishanasagar dam, the largest dam in India.

Sir Visvesvaraya cared deeply about education that led him to establish the Government Engineering College in 1917 at Bengaluru, which was later renamed as the Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology.  Apart from being an engineer and an educator, he was highly industrious. Sir M Visvesvaraya was a member of the Governing Council of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Later, he would become a member of the Tata Iron and Steel governing board. Besides, Sir M Visvesvaraya has also authored two books in his illustrious career - Reconstructing India and Planned Economy of India.

The legend passed away in the year 1962, but his legacy and spirit still lives in the minds of young engineers committed towards nation-building.

Trivia & Facts

  • Sir M Visvesvaraya was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award – the highest civilian award in the country for his immense contribution to the development of India.
  • Sir M Visvesvaraya served as the Diwan of Mysore, where he founded the Mysore Soap Factory, Bangalore Agricultural University, State Bank of Mysore and Mysore Iron and Steel Works.

Sir M Visvesvaraya is immensely honored in Karnataka and he even has his own lyrics in one of the blockbuster movie angarada Manushaya released in 1972, the longest-running movie in Kannada film industry. The lyrics translated in English goes by: “If Visvesvaraya had not toiled. And allowed Cauvery to flow. And not built Kannambadi?. Would this precious land have harvested gold? Prosperous Kannada land, our prosperous Kannada land?”