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M Visveswaraiah

Saturday January 8 2005 08:14 IST

By Karmayogi

If the builders of the nation are to be listed, Viswesvaraiah will figure in any list, however short-listed it is. He was an eminent administrator who became an eminent Indian.

By training, he was a civil engineer. By temperament, he was a nation builder. His forte was to spot out enterprising young men and offer them a viable suggestion of entrepreneurship.

His photograph is ubiquitous in the state of Karnataka. Someone stayed in an old fashioned hotel in Bangalore. He saw the photograph of M. Viswesvaraiah over the reception counter.

He asked why it was there. The reply was, “You may find this hotel old-fashioned, but it was originally conceived as a modern hotel and the conception was that of the then Dewan. That is why his photo adorns the wall.”

When he passed away in 1962, the nation mourned the loss. He was 102 by then. On his table was the latest edition of Collins Dictionary. He was austere, patriotic. His character was exemplary. During his tours, he used candles to do his reading and writing.

When the official work was over, he moved to personal reading. His candles were labelled 'official' and 'personal'. He switched over to personal candles for personal work.

His funeral procession was crawling very slowly as innumerable wreaths were offered to his last remains. The organisers were impatient as it was nearing sunset, and ordered it not to stop at all kinds of places but only where a wreath awaited the coffin.

Someone explained, “We are stopping only at the establishments that he helped to found, not stopping at places where wreaths await. That would take a longer time.” After his education, he was in Bombay and Hyderabad. The Maharaja called him to Mysore to be the Chief Engineer. He later became Dewan.

His mind was prolific. He applied it actively to all aspects of Mysore life and extended it to the life of India. Those were the days that Bharat Ratna went to original minds. Scholars, distinguished men of character, and nation builders received it. The nation was honoured by their receiving it.

Among the politicians, only statesmen were thought of for that honour. Politics never entered into the consideration of receiving Bharat Ratna. M. Viswesvaraiah was a distinguished recipient of the first honour of the nation. The great qualities of this rare individual are values of the Spirit.

He was earlier knighted by the British throne. But he was above politics. His achievements are great, and they are not merely national, but human. The human greatness finds expression in those who are in seats of power. In him, it found a scintillating expression.

Whether one is in politics or administration or public life, one rises to the acme of true fame he does not seek if his values are spiritual.
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