Sir M. Visvesvaraya : India’s engineer & statesman

sir mv

Dr. M Visvesvaraya. (Sir MV):

Born in a poor family in Muddenahalli of Karnataka (erstwhile Mysore State) on 15-Sep-1860, Sir MV went to Bangalore for higher education. After graduation, he went on to become one of the greatest engineers & statesman India had ever produced. His contribution was not just in engineering infrastructure projects (like dams & bridges) but he has also been instrumental in setting up of several industries & sectors including iron & steel, soaps, silk, sugar, banking & aeronautics.

Why celebrate Sir M Visvesvaraya’s birthday as Engineers’ Day:

His achievements can run into hundreds of pages but I would like to limit this inspirational article to a few of his personal qualities & habits which we can try to imbibe into our own lives and inspire future generations.

  • Honesty & Work Ethics
  • Discipline
  • Free from ego
  • Dedication & excellence

Honesty & Work Ethics: While being in Govt service, Sir MV was entitled to an office car but he refused it without second thoughts. While all of his colleagues accepted such office cars and used them for personal use as well, Sir MV saved money for several years and finally bought a car for his personal use.
Here is another interesting anecdote about Sir MV’s work ethics. When a friend visited him one fine evening, he was working on a document and was asked to wait. After sometime, Sir MV turned off the lamp, kept his pen & papers aside & pulled out another lamp and took another set of pen and papers. The friend found it strange and hesitatingly asked him if there was something wrong in the other pen, paper & lamp. Sir MV calmly explained him that he was doing office work till then and hence was using office lamp and stationery. Now that he will be doing his personal work (with his friend), it would require his personal lamp & stationery!!

Discipline: Sir MV used to wake up at 4:30am every morning and would report to office by 7am with clean and tidy clothes which he used to himself wash and iron. From 7am, he used to work till 8pm. Whenever he was supposed to deliver a speech, he would rehearse it for hours with discipline. His punctuality was so sharp that there are even folklores about it, one being that people of Mysore used to set their watches after seeing him on his way to office.

Free from ego: During his old age, Sir MV visited USA with his Indian group to learn about a steel factory & metallurgical procedures. A friendly American officer guided them throughout the factory and after demonstrating all the usual mid-sized equipments, the officer finally demonstrated a gigantic machine and told them that in order to understand how it works, one has to climb the 75 foot ladder. While his group members who were mostly youngsters hesitated to step forward (thinking they are highly qualified to climb on ladders), Sir MV immediately removed his coat & shoes and started climbing the ladder.

Dedication & excellence: He did his work with passion & dedication and always gave his best. One of his popular quote being: “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 mv with nehru

Here is a 15 min video clip about Sir MV, his qualities, achievements and contribution to the nation:

An engineer is not only someone who has the knowledge of design and execution, but also stands by ethics, dedication & excellence and Sir MV is the epitome of these values.

Today being the birth anniversary of Sir MV, India celebrates “Engineers Day” in his memory to inspire engineers across the nation.

Happy Engineers Day!!