Sir M. Visvesvaraya’s life is an inspiration in itself. He was born in Muddenahalli in the Chikkaballapur Taluk of Kolar District (Mysore State), on the 15th of September 1861.
He completed his early education in Chikkaballapur, then he came to Bangalore for higher education. He joined the Central College.
In Karnataka, his stories of struggle during his school days and how he used Street lamps to study during his student life is what every parent tell their children.
Sir MV came to Bangalore with his pocket empty and with no roof over his head!
A family from Kodagu, was looking for a tutor for the children. Visvesvaraya, himself a student, became their tutor. He lived with them and also earned a few rupees.
Nothing stopped this lad, even though poverty-stricken he stood high in the B.A. Examination in 1881. He got some help from the Government of Mysore and joined the Science College in Poona to study Engineering. In 1883 he ranked first in the L.C.E. and the F.C.E. Examinations (these were like the B.E. Examination of today).
His success as an engineer and Diwan of Mysore is very well known. Let us see few unknown stories which reveal his life principles.
- Once visvesvaraya was working with pen and paper in the dark with a lamp. His friend came to meet him. Visvesvaraya quickly blew the lamp, brought another set of lamp, pen and paper near his friend. Upon being asked, on why he did so, Visvesvaraya replied “That was office work and I use it only for that purpose”
- Once he received a letter from his friend asking for a place to stay for a few days, he intended to stay in the government guest house. Visvesvaraya made arrangements for his friend to stay at the government guest house by paying a month’s rent of 250 rupees.
- He used the government car only for his official purpose. Even though he didn’t own a car initially he didn’t make use of the government car for his personal works.
- He was a great man with work ethics. He was sincere to his work and made sure he used office facilities only for the office purposes. He never misused his powers, unlike many people in power today.
Age was No Barrier!
To learn about metallurgy procedures he made a trip to USA with his other Indian engineers at an old age. An American officer showed them new equipments and procedures. They came across a giant machine with 75 foot ladder. The rest of the engineers who were very young compared to visvesvaraya hesitated to step forward but he was the first person to start climbing.
Visvesvaraya lived for 101 years and he never considered age as a barrier to learn something new in life. He never let his old age and physical weakness stop him from trying something new.
Time Sense :
Visvesvaraya was never late for his work . He worked from 6am to 8pm and was considered to be a disciplined man and when it came to his work he was extremely punctual and disciplined.
His time sense didn’t even spare a minister who was 3 minutes late for a meeting. The minister had to take visvesvaraya’s advice to be on time.
It’s said that his time sense impressed many people that there were instances of people setting time after seeing him.
Giving Back to The World :
It was the time when Bhadravati Factory was in trouble and visvesvaraya was the chairman at that time. It took a few years for the government to pay him his salary, which was more than 100,000 rupees. He denied accepting it saying “Start an institute where boys can learn some profession”
People wanted to name the institution after visvesvaraya, he denied again. He asked it to be named after the king back then, the institution is “Sri Jayachamaraja Polytechnic Institute” in Bangalore.
Probably, this is what showing value for money means. Not accepting salary for his hard work and time, insisting to use the money for social welfare and upon that he denies to take credit. He was a genuine nation builder.
Preparation Before Work :
He once visited his Primary school in his hometown. People were already aware of his great achievements and success. He was asked to speak a few words to the children. He spoke for just five minutes and returned home disappointed. The reason for his disappointment was the unprepared speech. He wanted to make it up . He prepared a speech for the school children, visited the school after a few days again and delivered his speech.
He always made sure he prepared well before his meetings, appointments and speeches. A high attribute of many successful people.
Belief In Equality:
It was the time when British officers were given highest esteem in Mysore Kingdom and they were provided with comfortable chairs at the Mysore Durbars during Dasara whereas the Indian ministers were asked to stand or either sit on floor.
Visvesvaraya was totally against this and because of this bifurcation he stopped going to Durbars. After repeated incidents like this, the government decided to allot chairs for Indians as well.
Once a British officer wrote him a letter to arrange comfortable cushions at the Durbars to rest their feet as the height of chairs were pretty big.
Visvesvaraya replied to the letter saying “The height of the chair has been reduced” He never encouraged bossism and discrimination or treating Indians ill. He brought in some changes in the government offices to treat all people equal and nice.
He was surely a man of great deeds, ethics and values. He dedicated his life for the development of modern India and is considered an eminent engineer and will always remain the true Bharat Ratna.
We are celebrating Engineers Day on his birthday.
A very Happy Engineers Day to all engineers.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth