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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya


First among planners in India—an outstanding engineer, able administrator, great economist, social reformer, educationist and statesman, Sir M. Visvesvaraya was born on 15 September 1861 in an orthodox middle-class Brahmin family in a village near Nandi Hills in Mysore State. Having lost his father at an early age, the burden of maintaining the family fell on his shoulders, and he rose to the occasion and managed to maintain the family and arried on his studies as well.

Visvesvaraya showed promise from the early days of his educational career. Receiving his early education in Chickballapur, a small town, he joined the Central College, Bangalore and passed the Bachelor’s degree with distinction in 1881. Winning a scholarship of Mysore Government he joined the Poona College of Science and passed engineering in 1883 topping the engineering graduates list of Bombay University.

He started his professional career as an Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department of the Bombay Government in March 1884. He worked in Nasik and Khardesh District and designed a water supply scheme for the town of Dhulia. Among some of his notable contributions to engineering are the water supply and drainage of Sukkur in Sind (1894-95), construction of wells on the Tapti river-bed for water supply to Surat city, he designed a system of automatic gates to raise the storage level of Lake Fife at Khadakvasla, permanently by 8 feet, at the same time allowing flood waters to escape above the level. Visvesvaraya also prepared a project for a modern type of sewerage scheme for the first time for Poona. He also advised on the sanitary engineering needs of Aden.


Visvesvaraya’s greatest contribution came after his retirement from service in 1908. After Hyderabad city was devastated by floods in 1908, he designed a scheme for construction of storage reservoirs to impound flood waters and raising the river banks in places within the city. Thereafter, at the special desire of the Maharaja of Mysore State, he joined the State’s service as Chief Engineer and initiated the scheme for the 124 feet high Krishnaraja Sagara Reservoir across the Cauvery river.

In November 1912 he became the Dewan (Chief Minister) of Mysore at the invitation of the Maharaja with the one aim, to plan, promote and encourage developments, chiefly in Education, Industries, Commerce and Public Works, to enable the people to work well, earn well and live well. Even though the First World War broke out within twenty-one months of his assumption of office and thus limited his action, he “hustled” the people for development.

By his prestige with the Government of India, he was able to secure more powers for the Maharaja in internal administration by a treaty with the British, substituted for the Unilateral Instrument of, Transfer which had restored the State to the Maharaja. In order to give the Representative Assembly some real powers, the members were given the privilege of discussing the State Budget and the privilege of interpellation. The franchise of the Assembly was also broadened. The Assembly was convened twice a year, instead of only one as was the practice till then. Similarly the powers of the Legislative Council were increased.

Visvesvaraya initiated action for the separation of the executive from the judiciary. He liberalised the constitution of Local Bodies, such as Municipalities and District Boards and also invited increased non-official participation in those bodies. A system of ‘Efficiency Audit’ to take continuous action necessary for preservation of discipline and efficiency in Government departments and Service personnel was introduced. For systematising the work in offices, Office and Departmental Manuals were prepared, or revised where they already existed.

He was responsible for the establishment of the Mysore Bank, the Kannada Literary Academy and the Mysore University (1 July 1916). With the firm conviction that the neglect of education was the cause of economic ills, he introduced legislation for compulsory primary education and implemented it gradually. He started an Agricultural School (1913), a Mechanical engineering School, several Industrial Schools and an Engineering College at Bangalore. The Maharani’s College in Mysore was raised to a first grade College, and the first hostel for women was established.

He took action for the development of sericulture, for starting sandalwood oil manufacture, for manufacture of soap, for the establishment of the Central Industrial Workshop and district workshops. He encouraged new cottage industries by granting subsidies to supplement the agriculturist’s income. He improved the Hill Station at Nandi, initiated the Century Club in Bangalore and helped in the starting of the Modern Hindu Hotel at Bangalore and introduced Village Improvement Schemes. During his administration the Budget showed a surplus, and Capital to the extent of Rs.332 lakhs were invested in industries and productive public works. The construction of the Mysore Iron and Wood Distillation Works was started in 1918 for the manufacture of Iron by using charcoal. The Railway Department was reorganised.

When the cry for communal representation in the Services became strong and a committee for the purpose was proposed, Visvesvaraya opposed the appointment of such a committee on grounds of efficiency and purity in Pul21isSeuice. When his appeal proved of no avail, he resigned from his office as Dewan on 9 February 1918. At the special request of the Maharaja he took charge of the Mysore Iron and Steel Works from 1923 to 1929 and made it profitable. The remuneration which the Government offered to him for his work was handed back for opening an Occupational Institute at Bangalore in the name of Maharaja Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyaf. He also worked as Chairman of the Committee of the Cauvery Canal System and the New Bangalore . Water Supply Scheme.

Visvesvaraya was disappointed in hip ambition to start an automobile industry in Mysore, but was able to help in the establishment of the Premier Automobile Company at Bombay. He was also responsible, with Walchand, for the starting of the Hindustan Aircraft Factory in Bangalore.

He advised the Bombay City Corporation (1924-25) and the Karachi Municipal Corporation (1924) about their finances and administration. Many of the cities in Western India, which have modern water supply schemes or drainage schemes, have had the benefit of his advice. The Orissa Government had the benefit of his advice on the flood problem in that State in 1937.

As Chairman of the Bombay University Committee for promoting Chemical Industries his scheme for a Department of Chemical Technology was adopted, and then such a Department was established. He was a member of the Bombay Technical and Industrial Education Committee (1921-22) but he did not agree with the European members of the Committee in putting forward proposals for training only apprentices.

He presided over the All Parties’ Conference in Bombay in 1922 to bring about agreement on certain political issues of the time. He was Chairman of the Indian Economic Enquiry Committee (1925). As Chairman of the Bangalore Political Disturbances Enquiry Committee (1929), he pointed out the urgent need for a responsible government. He presided over the South Indian State People’s Conference held at Trivandrum in 1929. The Conference passed resolutions to secure a better position to the people of the Indian States in the scheme of government both national and regional. It adopted a memorandum, on his suggestion outlining a Dominion Constitution for India including the States. He was Chairman of the Irrigation Enquiry Committee, Bombay (1938).

He visited in foreign countries in 1898, 1908, 1919, 1926, 1935 and 1946 with the sole aim of studying developments in Industry, Education and Sanitation in those developed countries. While still in service he had to travel extensively in foreign countries. He visited China and Japan in 1898, and he was offered the post of Chief Adviser in Engineering to the Chinese Government, an honour which he however, declined. When the Committee of the Association of Indian Industries, Bombay, proposed to convene a Conference on an All-India basis and requested Visvesvaraya to preside over the first Conference, he agreed to it on condition that it should function as a permanent organisation and at least a dozen of the sponsors should devote four hours a week for the work. Thus started the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation in June 1941 and he continued to be its President for many years.

He stressed the need for research while presiding over the Indian Science Congress in 1923. He was connected with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, from its very inception and was the Chairman of its Court from 1940 to 1947. He was a Director of the Tata Iron & Steel Company from 1927 to 1955. He advised the Government of India about the construction of a bridge across the Ganga in Bihar in 1952. He undertook to organise a Village Industrialisation Scheme in the Mysore state under his own direction when he was over 90 years of age.

Visvesvaraya was recipient of many honorary degrees from many Universities. He was made a C.I.E. in 1911 and a K.C.I.E. in 1915.

He believed that the first requirement of Nation Builders was to prepare men with character. He prescribed harder work, planned and disciplined work, efficiency and courtesy and service as Rules of Conduct. His watch-words were Investigate, Educate and Organise’. His ideas are elucidated in his books: Reconstructing India(1920) which he wrote while in England, Planned Economy for India (1934) and many tracts on Village Industries, Rural Industrialization and on Automobile Industry. His Memoris of My Working Life (1951) is autobiographical. His Sayings Witty and Wise is made up of selections from his scrap book.

Sir M. Visvesvaraya lived his whole life, every day and every hour of that life, according to well thought-out time tables and devoted to making his countrymen work well and live well. In private life he was simple and modest, courteous and friendly to all. He died on 14 April 1962 after living full hundred years. On 15 September 1960 the whole country celebrated his birth centenary. Nation was proud to honour this distinguished son of India with Bharat Ratna as early as 1955. He is one of the founders of modern India.


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