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Four inspiring books you should read about the Engineers who built India

Every Indian student has, at least once in their lives, considered becoming an engineer.

We can’t help it because that has been the most desirable profession in our society for ages now.  Result: The internet today is flooded with memes and jokes about the engineering life.

But jokes apart, our country has produced some really inspiring engineers who have played major roles in building the nation.

Here are four great Indian engineers you can learn about through books!

1 . ‘Karmayogi: A Biography of E Sreedharan’ written by M S Ashokan, translated from Malayalam by Rajesh Rajamohan

If you have ever travelled on the Konkan Railway or cut through traffic using the Delhi metro, E Sreedharan is the man to thank!

Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, popularly as the Metro Man, is a civil engineer who served in the Indian Engineering Services and worked his magic on Cochin Shipyard Limited, Konkan Railways, Kolkata Metro Rail, and Delhi Metro Rail.

In a country notorious for its delayed and incomplete infrastructure projects, Sreedharan proved that it is possible to complete ambitious projects on time and within budget.

This book, originally written in Malayalam by M S Ashokan, talks about the beginning of his career as a lecturer and how with perseverance and incredible managing skills, he rose to become an authority on public transport.

Bonus Reading: If you liked this book and you want to know more about the Metro Man, check out India’s Railway Man by Rajendra B Aklekar.

2. ‘Vikram Sarabhai: A Life’ by Amrita Shah

It was a day of great pride for our country when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 104 satellites in one go and the world paused to watch.

We owe much of our success in space science today to Vikram Sarabhai, known as the Father of India’s Space Programme. Some even call him the predecessor of Elon Musk!

Sarabhai was a Reconnaissance Man, or what we know better as ‘Polymath’ today. He was a physicist researching on cosmic rays but also a businessman running his family’s business. He was the architect behind the formation of ISRO while also creating an impact in the textiles and pharmaceutical industry.

This book by Amrita Shah traces his life from his birth into the industrialist Sarabhai family in Ahmedabad to his many endeavors into physics, space science, management, and more.

Not making any comparisons here, but if you are a huge Elon Musk fan, you should definitely read about this Indian pioneer!

Bonus Reading: If you want to know more about space science and ISRO, you should also check out ‘ISRO: A Personal History’ by R Aravamudan and Gita Aravamudan. Aravamudan is one of the first engineers to be picked by Sarabhai for the Indian space programme.

3. ‘The Nationalist: How A.M. Naik Overcame Great Odds to Transform Larsen & Toubro into a Global Powerhouse’ by Minhaz Merchant

Anil Manibhai Naik joined the Indian engineering conglomerate L&T as a Junior Engineer in 1965. He rose through the ranks to become the Group Chairman of the company which is often said to be critical for the nation’s infrastructure projects.

The book explores his transformation from an engineer to a sharp businessman, under whose leadership L&T was at its peak. Naik is portrayed in the book as being a true nationalist who wanted to contribute to the country’s growth.

Since Naik spent the majority of his life in L&T, it’s also a great way to learn about the history and growth of the company.

4. ‘Memoirs of My Working Life’ by Sir M Visvesvaraya

Sir M Visvesvaraya

Sir M Visvesvaraya is a visionary widely celebrated as the example of what an engineer should be like. In fact, his birthday is even celebrated as ‘Engineer’s Day’! (That’s on September 15, if you’re wondering)

Visvesvaraya served as the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. He later built the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mysuru as its chief engineer and even played an important role in building the Khadakwasla dam near Pune.

He was a man with a love for solving complex problems in engineering, especially related to water distribution.

In this memoir, Sir M Visvesvaraya recounts his days in the College of Engineering, Pune, the many projects he worked on, and also shares his philosophy on work.

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