Malaviya Ji – Father of Engineering in India
Dr. D. P.Singh
Nineteenth Century is the era of Indian renaissance. A galaxy of saints, seers, social reformers, freedom fighters and politicians were born in this century. Each decade of this century has many glorious names associated with it. In the beginning of the sixth decade, a great engineer and statesman Visvesvaraya Ji was born in 1860, Nobel Laureate RabindraNath Tagore , great scientist Sir P.C. Ray and renowned educationist Mahamana Malaviya Ji were all born in 1861, revolutionary saintVivekananad Jiin 1863 and Mahatama Gandhi in 1869.
Malaviya ji’scontributionin the freedomstruggle of the country isenough to make him immortal. He contributed to the independence movement right from 1886 when he first attended the second congress session at Calcutta till his demise in 1946. However, the nation will remain ever indebted to him forhis services rendered in the field of education, particularly the technical education. Banaras Hindu University is embodiment of his dream which he nurtured right from his young age. Thanks tohis vision and foresight that the degree awarding education in electrical and mechanical, mining, metallurgy, ceramics and pharmaceutics started for the first time in the country at the Banaras Hindu University.
Malaviya Ji had ‘deep and through understanding of not only Indian history but of world history right from ancient time to modern period. This is fully reflected in his many writings and speeches. His field of interest was not only political history but was equally concerned with social, economic and technical history. Malaviya ji was fully aware of the material prosperity of ancient India and its contribution in the field of science and technology. Quoting the British references, he used to emphasize that India was always a leading manufacturing, trading and agricultural based economy in the World except during British regime when it became an agricultural based economy only. He also advocated that India’s prosperity was due to its contribution in the field of education, particularly in the applied sciences. He used to reckon in his time that the economic prosperity was related to the education and considered it as a universal truth.
Malaviya Ji advocated for the technical education at every forum that he attended. As a result of his efforts, the National Congress urged the Government for establishment ofengineering institution for the first time in 1904. Under Malaviya ji’s leadership the Indian Industrial Conference started meeting regularly as an adjunct of the National Congress since 1905 when it first met in Varanasi. Malaviya ji had already sown the seed of Banaras Hindu University in a meeting of the eminent persons at the mint house in Varanasi under the presidentship of Maharaja of Banaras Sir Prabhu Narayan Singh. It was also discussed and endorsed at the 21st session of the Congress held at Varanasi in 1905 under the presidentship of Shri Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Soon after this, the scheme was also laid before Sanatan Dharm Mahasabha held on the occasion of Kumbh at Allahabad during January 20-29, 1906. The first provisional prospectus was issued in October 1905 for private circulation and the first public prospectus of the University was issued on March 12, 1906. It would be interesting to notethat this prospectus clearlyemphasized on technical education in the proposed University. One of the objectives of the Universitywas to advance and diffuse scientific and technical knowledge through the medium of Sanskrit and the Indian Vernaculars. Malaviya ji was a great advocate for imparting even higher education through one’s own mother tongue only but he had to compromise it under the pressure from the British Government, in the larger interest of creating an University and getting the approval from the Imperial Legislative Council. It was Malaviya ji’s vision and untiring efforts which finally led to the enactment of the “ Banaras Hindu University Act” which received the assent of the Governor General on October 01, 1915. The objectives of the establishment of Banaras Hindu University clearly states. “ To advance and diffuse such scientific, technical and professional knowledge combined with the necessary practical training as is best calculated to help in promoting indigenous industries and in developing the material resources of the country.”
Malaviya ji had released a pamphlet entitled “Banaras Hindu University – why it is wanted and what it aims at” in July, 1911. In this pamphlet Malaviya ji states “It is proposed that the College of Science and Technology should be the first college to be first college to be established by the University. In the present economic condition of India, there is no branch of education for which there is greater need than scientific and technical instruction”. Malaviya ji was so much concerned with India’s poverty that he remarked “Midas starving amid heaps of gold – India starving in the midst of untold wealth”.
Engineering education in India was started in late 18th century but all the institutions till the beginning of the engineering courses in BHU were primarily civil engineering oriented. The oldest engineering institution, now known as Anna University, was born as a survey school on May 17, 1794. It was later upgraded as Civil Engineering College in 1862. The oldest civil engineering degree awarding institution in India is Thomson College of Engineering (now Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee) which was established in 1847. The Bengal Engineering College (now Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur) was established in 1856. The only engineering college in western presidency, Pune College of Engineering was started in 1855. VJT Institute in Mumbai began teaching engineering courses in 1867. All these institutions primarily focused on civil engineering courses till almost mid-thirties of last century when they started other branches of engineering. Banaras Hindu University came into existence in 1916 and the first convocation of the university was held on January 17, 1919. The then vice-chancellor Sir P. S. SivaswamAiyar in his convocation address echoed Malayviya ji’s sentiments only when he said “The dawn of a new era of Industrial development is in sight and it is the duty of Hindu University to prepare young men for it”. The report of Indian Industrial Commission, in which engineering education was discussed vigorously due to Malaviya ji’s insistence, was submitted in 1918. The recommendations of the commission were against the starting of the engineering degree courses in electrical and mechanical engineering expect the lone protesting voice of Malaviya ji in his note of dissent. Malaviya ji’s close allies e. g. Mahatma Gandhi ji, Shri Shiva Prasad Gupta, Dr. Bhagwan das and many others were not favouring the idea of Malaviya ji’s to start engineering teaching . Of course, the British Government was also not favourable for creating the engineering faculty in Banaras Hindu University. The most difficult task was collection of enough funds needed by an engineering institution. The training facility needed by such courses was also not available in nearby places and getting qualified faculty was another hurdle. To face all these obstacles, there was the greatest visionary Malaviya ji who was determined to start the engineering course at the just born Banaras Hindu University.
As a result the electrical and mechanical engineering courses started in 1919 and mining and metallurgy in 1923. Teaching in Industrial Chemistry leading to present Chemical Engineering and Ceramic Engineering courses began in 1921. A course in Pharmaceutical chemistry commenced in 1932 leading to a degree course in Pharmaceutics in 1939 for the first time in India.
A Power plant was setup in the Engineering College to generate power for the need of the university and for providing practical training to the students. The power house was built in 1921 and a 20KW set was installed which was augmented by a 100KW set in 1923.
The cause of technical education was very close to Malaviya ji’s heart. He accorded a special status to engineering faculty and students. Their residences and hostels were painted in dazzling white. The engineering teachers were given priority in the allotment of accommodation and their enrolments and grades were lot better than the other faculties.
Malaviya ji wanted to start a course in Naval engineering covering navigation and ship building etc. Malaviya ji was keen to start the course considering huge volume of export and import trade. In his note to the Indian Industrial Commission, he wrote that the ship building was ancient industry in India and Indians had the knowledge and experience of building large ships which used to sail to Europe and Far East. The arrival of Indian produce in Indian built ships, managed by Indian sailors used to create fleet had speared in Thames. Indian ship building industry succumbed to the jealousy of the English manufactures. It would be a great homage to Malaviya ji at his 152th birth anniversary to start a have all course in Naval Engineering to fulfill his dream to have all courses of engineering which he visualized under the same roof at Banaras Hindu University. Malaviya ji’s 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated at the national level. A numberof projects have been undertaken to make this event memorable. The greatest tribute that has been paid to the Father of Engineering Education Mahamana Malaviya ji is the elevation of the Institute of Technology which was earlier formed by amalgamating Banaras Engineering College (BENCO), College of Mining and Metallurgy (MINMET) and college of Technology (TECHNO) into one entity, to the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Banaras Hindu University. Some of the leading figures in the field of Engineering and Technology are the alumni of IIT – BHU. They are actively engaged in celebrating Malaviya ji’s birth anniversary in a most befitting manner not only in India but also in different parts of the world.
For the overall prosperity of the nation, let the following words of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya be the guiding force for all the alumni of this Great University.
“It is my earnest hope and prayer that this centre of life and light which is coming into existence, will produce students who will not only be intellectually equal to the best of their fellow students in other parts of the world, but will also live a noble life, love their country and be loyal to the Supreme Ruler”.
Dr. D. P. Singh
Vice President, Mahamana Malaviya MissionFormer Vice Chancellor,
Lucknow UniversityDistinguished Professor, Department of Mining Engineering, IIT - BHU
I am the devotee of Malaviya ji Maharaj. How can a devotee properly and adequately praise his master or write about him? Whatever he writes will look incomplete. Through pictures I had darshan of Malaviya jiin 1890. This picture was in a paper called “India” published in England by Mr. Digwi. It seems to me I am still today seeing that picture. There is abundance of unity & purity in his thoughts, look and dress. And in this unity I find sweetness and devotion. Today who can compete with Malaviya ji In Patriotism? Beginning with his youth and till date his patriotism flows uninterrupted like Ganga. Malaviya ji is life force of Banaras Hindu Univeristy and for him it (BHU) is his life force…… This greatest of the human beings may live long.
-Mahatma Gandhi while leaving for England, 07-09-1931