India celebrates Engineering Day on the 15th of September every year. Google, this year, decided to honor one of India’s most celebrated engineers -Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. He was the Google Doodle for the day. Behind him on the Doodle, is the work he is most famous for; the Krishna Raja Sagara Lake and dam.
Popularly known as Sir MV, he was a lead player in the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in the North-West suburb of Mysore City. It was early in his career that it was clear he had an affinity for irrigation systems. Soon after his studies, he became the sanitary engineer for the government of Bombay.
During his tenure in Bombay, he implemented a block system of irrigation that would provide irrigation for a large number of villages.
His mantra was: “Work is Worship”. When he looked at naturally occuring waterfalls, he knew that hydroelectric power could be harvested. He clearly had a knack for engineering. The government required his help - they needed to control some of their bodies of water in a better fashion.
A history of works
In 1909, he was enlisted to help prevent more floods in Hyderabad - which had just experienced a flood considered to be one of the worst in its history. It was thought that 15,000 people had lost their lives in the floods due to the Musi river being over capacity.
Flooding was not uncommon to the area, but the 1908 flood was particularly devastating. Some urban planning was thus necessary. Equipped with his knowledge of floodgates and reservoirs, Sir MV began work on remedying the situation .
Sir MV designed reservoirs that stored water that flowed over the Musi river’s capacity. He also built one across the Musi river tributary the Esi. Sir MV then went on to design a drainage system for Hyderabad that would prevent large scale flooding.
The region of Mysore then required Sir MV’s help. He became the Chief Engineer of Mysore State in 1909. He patented automatic weir floodgates at the beginning of the 1900s, and was determined to use them. He went on to implement these at Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) in the biggest project of its kind at the time.
The main irrigation canal, an artificial tunnel that funnels water through it, was 2 miles long - an engineering feat India had never observed at that time in history. The Mysore area was suffering from an intensive drought before Sir MV had arrived. Agriculture was suffering immensely.
However, once the canal was implemented, sugar cane fields were able to be sustained which began a whole new sugar industry. As a result, civil engineering had immensely helped change the fate of a once barren, dry area.
He founded the Government Engineering College in Bengaluru in 1917. A college that was eventually named after him - embodying his craving for continuous societal improvement through technological advancement.
Sir MV was given the status of a Muslim council of state in 1912 in thanks for his contributions to civil engineering. He went to influence the rise of industry through the use of engineering technologies to create further prosperity. He authored books and pamphlets, detailing how the country should industrialize. He wrote an impressive list of books:
- Constructing India - Published 1920
- Rural Industrialization in India - Published 1931
- Unemployment in India: its causes and cure - Published 1932’
- Planned Economy for India - Published 1934
- Nation Building; a five year plan for the provinces - Published 1937
- District Development Scheme - Published 1939
- Prosperity Through Industry - Published 1942
- Village Industrialization - Published 1945
He dabbled in steelwork later in his career as well. He owned the Bhadravathi Steel Plant - creating steelworks that competed on a global market scale.
Even in his old age, he didn’t slow down. He drafted a document named the Rural Industrialization Scheme, asserting that the only way to inspire economic growth in rural areas was through industrialization. The Mysore government accepted the scheme and began its implementation. Soon, many states in India began implementing the scheme. He was also instrumental in suggesting where key infrastructure was to be placed.
In 1941 he founded the All India Manufacturers Organization. It’s motto was: ‘Prosperity Through Industry’. He was awarded the highest honor an Indian citizen can achieve: Bharat Ratna. He was named the Father of the Idea of Planned Development in the citation.
Sir MV showed that in a career of engineering, pausing work and being complacent is a waste of time. Even at an old age, an engineer can still be instrumental in inspiring societal improvement through engineering.
Bushan007. “Sir. Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya Documentary.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyhp7uu7o6c.
Hariharan, Revathi. “On Engineer's Day, Google Doodle Celebrates M Visvesvaraya's Birthday.” NDTV.com, 15 Sept. 2018, www.ndtv.com/india-news/engineers-day-2018-on-engineers-day-google-doodle-celebrates-m-visvesvarayas-birthday-1916818.