G.D. Naidu or Gopalswamy Doraiswamy Naidu, fondly remembered as “Edison of India” and “The Wealth Creator of Coimbatore“, is credited for initiating the industrial revolution in the country.
He had only primary education but excelled as a versatile genius.
He was an Indian Inventor and Engineer. During his lifetime, he worked on several inventions in multiple fields as the first electric motor in India.
His contributions were primarily industrial but also spanned the fields of electrical, mechanical, agricultural (hybrid cultivation) and automobile engineering.
Some of his revolutionary inventions that this creative inventor is renowned for are a kerosene-run fan, projection tv, mechanical calculator, electric razor, and ticket vending machine most importantly, the first electric motor in the country.
“Mr Naidu is truly a man in a million – perhaps this is an understatement,”
— Nobel Prize winner Dr C. V. Raman
G.D. Naidu was born in Kalanga, Coimbatore on 23 March 1893 in a Telugu-speaking family. He was the son of a farmer and Naidu lost his mother a few months after his birth.
The young Naidu was never interested in studies and struggled throughout his school life.
He disliked his classes and he was punished frequently for his habit of hurling sand at teachers during the class hence chose to drop out in the third standard.
While Naidu was assisting his father in his farm, 16 years old Naidu laid eyes on a 1912 Rudge Motorcycle that belonged to a British Revenue Officer.
He was so fascinated by the bike that he left his village and moved to Coimbatore. For almost three years he worked hard as a waiter in a small hotel and saved enough money to buy himself a motorcycle.
Finally after years of hard work he finally purchased the motorcycle from that British officer for Rupees 300 and he dismantled it for multiple times to study the design and structure of the engine.
That was Naidu’s first attempt to understand automobiles.
After purchasing the British motorcycle he spent time dismantling it and re-assembling it and later he became a mechanic.
In 1920, he began his transport business named Universal Motor Services and he purchased an automobile coach. He drove that coach between Pollachi and Palani.
In a span of a few years he became so successful that his company Universal Motor Service (UMS) owned the most efficient fleet of public transport vehicles in the country.
Later he also started National Electric Works(NEW) at Peelamedu, Coimbatore and In 1937 he developed the first motor to be produced in India along with D. Balasundaram Naidu.
Universal Radiators Factory, Gopal Clock Industry, Coimbatore Diesel products and Coimbatore Engineering Private Limited, Coimbatore Armature Winding Works, UMS Radio Industry and Carbon manufacturing industry are some of the factories that he founded.
His invention that caught everyone’s attention was indeed the development of India’s first Indigenous motor in 1937 along with D. Balasundaram Naidu.
After his motor’s success, he founded Textool along with Balasundaram and later on Lakshmi Machine Works.
In the field of electronics, he developed gadgets that would make everyday life simple. Naidu came up with the ‘Rasant’, electric razor with thin shaving blades incorporating a small motor operated by dry cells, called Heilbronn.
His other famous inventions were as follows :
- Super-thin shaving blades,
- A distance adjuster for film cameras,
- A fruit juice extractor,
- A tamper-proof vote-recording machine and
- A kerosene-run fan.
In 1941, he invented a five-valve radio set in India at a mere Rupees 70/- a set so that more people can afford Radios. He was from a poor family so tried his best to give cheaper solutions of day to day problems to his audience.
He was always into automobiles and it was impossible to stop this man from inventing a masterpiece in his sector.
In 1952, he invented a two-seater petrol car only at a price of Rupees 2000/- that could allow more people to afford a car.
But unfortunately the government refused to grant him the necessary license and subsequently the product was stopped.
Naidu as a Photographer
Apart from being a prominent scientist and businessman, Naidu was also a photographer who loved travelling around the world and he captured images of eminent personalities.
He met Adolf Hitler in Germany. He invited K. Kamaraj to many functions. Among the Indian stalwarts that Naidu’s camera captured were Mahatma Gandhi, India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose.
In 1935, he personally filmed the funeral of King George V in London.
Nation’s First Polytechnic College
In 1945, India’s first polytechnic college, the Arthur Hope Polytechnic and the Arthur Hope College of Engineering were set up by G.D. Naidu through Jawaharlal Nehru’s efforts and donations.
The college was named after the Governor of Madras Arthur Hope.
Later the Government moved the college to its present location and renamed it to Government College of Technology (GCT).
In 1945, GD Naidu was the principal of the college. Naidu was not satisfied with the four-year programs and said that it was a waste of time for students.
Naidu was a very creative person and never followed the preconceived notions of the faculty. He suggested that two years was more than enough to teach the same courses, even with different concentrations.
However, the British government did not accept his idea and Naidu resigned from his post.
By the end of 1944 he retired himself from all of his business and embarked on the road of several philanthropic measures including grants for research scholarships and welfare schemes for his employees and the depressed sections of society.
Just after two years, he founded the Industrial Labour Welfare Association (now known as G.D. Naidu Charities) with an aim to include practical training in higher education so that students would get employed easily.
He always wanted to help middle class people and make their lives easier.
Naidu’s post-retirement life was mostly dedicated to making society better by coming up with welfare schemes for his employees and the underprivileged.
He would give grants to researchers who showed potential for inventions just like him.
He wanted to provide everything to the people which he did not have privilege to have.
G.D. Naidu died on 4th January ,1974 at an age of 80 in TamilNadu.
Sir C V Raman said of Naidu: “A great educator, an entrepreneur in many fields of engineering and industry, a warm-hearted man filled with love for his fellows and a desire to help them in their troubles, Mr Naidu is truly a man in a million – perhaps this is an understatement!”
His son G.D. Gopal and his grandchildren G.D. Rajkumar and Shantini built a permanent Industrial exhibition In his memory in Coimbatore.
G. D. Matriculation Higher Secondary School and GeDee Public school in Coimbatore is named after him. It is managed by his daughter-in-law Chandra Gopal. His grandson G.D. Rajkumar now runs the Geedee Industries. His granddaughter Shanthini Choudhry runs The Grand Regent hotel in Coimbatore.
Dr C. V. Raman best described the diverse life of Naidu,
“A great educator, an entrepreneur in many fields of engineering and industry, a warm-hearted man filled with love for his fellows and a desire to help them in their troubles, Mr Naidu is truly a man in a million – perhaps this is an understatement.”