A scholar, statesman, educationist and perhaps the most celebrated engineer in India, Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was the embodiment of everything a country needs to strive for a better future.
This year will mark the 48th Engineers Day celebrations in India, held in commemoration of Visvesvaraya's 155th birth anniversary.
Visvesvaraya played many parts in his life and the day is marked as a remembrance of his achievements and spirit of progress.
Born on 15 September 1861 in the village of Muddenahalli in the Kingdom of Mysore (now in Karnataka), Visvesvaraya lost his father, Srinivasa Sastry, when he was 15. Following his death, Visvesvaraya moved with his mother Venkatalakshamma to Bangalore where his maternal uncle H Ramaiah lived.
At Bengaluru, he was admitted to the Wesleyan Mission High School in 1875. Later he joined the Central College from where he graduated with distinction. He then moved to Pune to join the College of Science to study engineering, where he passed his engineering examination in 1883, standing first. He specialised in Civil Engineering.
Visvesvaraya took up a job with the Public Works Department (PWD) of Bombay (now Mumbai) and was later invited to join the Indian Irrigation Commission.
As part of his usual work in the Public Works Department he was engaged in road construction, maintenance of public buildings and laying out plans for city developments, in many important towns.
The Block System of Irrigation, a scheme prepared by Visvesvaraya, was a big achievement. The scheme was prepared at the instance of the President of the Indian Irrigation Commission, 'to make irrigation works in the Bombay Presidency more popular and profitable and yield a reasonable return on the outlay that Government had incurred on them.'
During his stay in Bombay Presidency he came in close contact with men like Mahadeo Govind Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) and Bal Gangadhar Tilak(1856-1920).
He also designed and patented a system of automatic weir water floodgates which were first installed in 1903 at the Khadakvasla reservoir near Pune. These gates were first used at Khadakvasla dam to control the flood of the Mootha Canal flowing through Pune. The gates similar to the ones developed by Visvesvaraya were later used in the Tagra Dam in Gwalior, Krishnasagar dam in Mysore and other large storage dams.
Following the success and at the invitation of Nizam's Government Visvesvaraya took up the appointment of the Chief Engineer at Hyderabad in 1909. Here, he designed a flood protection system to protect the city of Hyderabad from floods, and subsequently earned a celebratory status, reports The Hindu.
Later the same year, Visvesvaraya joined the Mysore Service as Chief Engineer. After three years of his services as the Chief Engineer, Visvesvaraya was appointed as Diwan of the Mysore State by its ruler, Krishnarajendra Wodeyar. Visvesvaraya served as Dewan for six years.
Visvesvaraya received India's highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955 and was also knighted as a Commander of the Indian Empire by King George V for his myriad contributions to the public good.
With inputs from agencies