Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Serving The Society... With Love

On May 3, 1931, city resident Bhaaggeeratamma and Krishna Murthy couple had a son. Little did they know then that this boy will grow up to be an engineer, a philanthropist, an industrialist, an art patron and much more.
Krishna Murthy Venkatesha Murthy, dearly known to Mysoreans as K.V. Murthy, over the years has been constantly involved in building our society both as an engineer and as a concerned citizen. He never steps back to lend a helping hand to those in need.
In recognition of his works, he has received various awards including, 'Engineer Par Excellence' by Builders Association of India, Mysore Chapter, 'Four Avenues of Service' and 'Best Credibility President' by Rotary and 'Sangeeta Sevanidhi' by JSS Sangeetha Sabha. On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Rotary Mysore West has organised a function at Hotel Grand Maurya in city tomorrow at 6.30 pm to felicitate Murthy. In this backdrop, we spoke to the octogenarian about his 80-year-long journey. Excerpts...

K.V. Murthy
From where did your journey begin?
K.V. Murthy (KVM): I was born and brought up in Mysore. My schooling was at Vontikoppal Govt. School, which was the best school in those days. The present External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna was my classmate in middle school. At that time we had only four students who had passed in first class and Krishna and I were among that four! After finishing school, I joined Maharaja College, later did B.Sc, BE in Civil Engineering from NIE and Masters in Geo-technology.

Did you choose civil engineering out of interest?
KVM: From my younger days I wanted to have two degrees and hence B.Sc and BE. At that time, there was no Information Technology or Computer Science. We had only four options — Civil, Mechanical, Chemical and Electrical. And I loved civil. When India won independence, there was a lot of growth in infrastructure. Our country was in the development stage and many dams, bridges, buildings, docks etc. were being constructed. For all this, civil engineering is the basic. Even today the course has a lot of demand.

How were your days as a civil engineer?
KVM: Immediately after studies I left Mysore and went to Baroda to join Bombay PWD. But I didn’t want to continue in government sector. In 1958, I came to Bombay and joined a private construction company. My first assignment was in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Powai. On Mar.10, 1959 Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation for its Administrative Block. When that project was underway, another company, which was observing my work, asked me to work for them on a project in Sharavati. The lure of coming back to my native made me pack my bags. I was involved in the construction of Linganamakki Dam. After that, from 1959-1987, I worked with Hazarath Construction Company. After the workers took over the company, we had our own technology and were undertaking marine and harbour works, construction of bridges, dams etc. I was also involved in the setting up of the first full-fledged container terminal in Chennai in 1983 which was completed in just 18 months time. The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had inaugurated it. I have worked at almost all the ports in India and have travelled across the country as an engineer.

With such a busy career, when did you get involved in social service and how was your experience as a Rotarian?
KVM: Why has God given money? You obviously won’t take it while leaving. So I started to serve the society. My wife Lalitha and I have three daughters. One is a doctor at Manipal Hospital and other two are engineers. Once they were married, we were left alone and then I shifted to social service. Few friends and I took up some voluntary work and the result of it is the present facilities at Chirashanthi Dhama Crematorium in Goku-lam, Nadabrahma Sangeetha Sabha and a few others. We have established a Sangeetha Sabha called Raaga Vaibhava. I helped in certain reconstruction work at the Kanteerava Narasim-haraja Sports Club and saved more than Rs.10 lakh for the Club. Also, when I was the President of Rotary Mysore West, we provided many facilities at the Rotary West Institute for Mother and Deaf Child, including the construction of residential quarters for the mothers.

When was the seed of music planted in you?
KVM: I was exposed to music from my childhood days. My parents used to sing very well. Later on I got busy with my job. In Mumbai, we didn’t have Karnatak music, but my wife and I would attend concerts of stalwarts like Mukesh, Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Hemanth Kumar etc. I got back in touch with classical music after returning to Mangalore. But Chennai quen-ched my thirst for music when I got to know great musicians like Ramani, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Maharajapuram Santanam and M.S. Subbulakshmi. I would arrange for their concerts in front of a few invited audience at my residence there. Because of this, I came to be known as Madras Murthy among my friends! Also, during my second dau-ghter’s marriage Lalgudi Jayaraman gave a concert for free just out of friendship.

You have been an engineer, an art patron, philanthropist and now also an industrialist. Tell us a little about your industry.
KVM: I am currently the Chairman of Pragati Group at Belagola Industrial Area in city. We are involved in the production of plant growth regulators, micronutrients and pesticides. We are also into producing instant food and have made instant coffee decoction.

What has been the driving force behind you?
KVM: I have come up the hard way. But my parents brought me up with good character. They would always ask me to study, share and serve the society. In my 35 years of service, all you can find is dedication and hard work. I have immense belief in God. And all my work is dedicated to God and my parents who gave me character and taught me how to behave. I am from a very poor family and whatever I have today is hard earned. But I have inherited the good character and guidance given by my parents. Also my wife has been a great support as she took good care of our children when I was busy with my career.

Seeing your journey, many youngsters will consider you as their role model. What is your message to them?
KVM: My only message is 'work'; working not out of fear or favour but with love. You should not expect anything in return. If you want to do something, then do it out of love. Else you'll be left disappointed and sad. Work is worship and working is in my blood. This has been my motto throughout my life and I advice the same to others also.
D.V. Gundappa, in one of his Mankuthimmana Kagga, says work not for the sake of it, your work is your dharma, do your work happily and work without expectation. This is my message for youngsters.

(Published in Star Of Mysore dated May 2, 2011)


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