Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Edison Of India – G.D.Naidu – Great Inventor

G. D. Naidu (Gopalswamy Doraiswamy Naidu) who is sometimes referred as the “Edison of India.His contribution spans the fields of electrical, mechanical, agricultural (Hybrid cultivation) and automobile engineering . Mostly at an Industrial level than the Academia.

If there is one name that best symbolises Coimbatore’s spirit of entrepreneurship, it is that of G D Naidu. Born on March 23rd, 1893, in Kalangal near Coimbatore, this school dropout began his Transport business in 1920, with the purchase of a passenger auto-coach, which he himself drove for the service between Pollachi and Palani. In a matter of a few years, his United Motor Service (UMS) owned the most efficient fleet of public transport vehicles in the country. In 1937, the first motor to be produced in India, was brought out at G D Naidu’s UMS factory.

As an inventor, G D Naidu was one-of-a-kind in the country. He invented an Electric Razor – Rasant, that gave users far more shaves than other existing options in the international market. Among his other inventions were the super-thin shaving blades, a distance adjuster for film cameras, a special fruit juice extractor, a tamper-proof vote-recording machine and a kerosene-run fan. In 1941, he announced that he had the ability to manufacture five-valve Radio sets in India at a mere Rs 70/- a set. In 1952, his brainchild – the indigenously built Petrol engine two-seater Car (costing a mere Rs 2,000/-) rolled out. But production was stopped subsequently, because of the Government’s refusal to grant the necessary license. His inventiveness was not confined to machinery alone. He is said to have grown ten feet high Cotton plants, millet plants with high yields and several injections for plants that made possible what Sir C V Raman called “Botanic marvels”.

On his trips abroad, Naidu always seemed to draw appreciation for his innovations and his personal drive. In 1935, he personally filmed the funeral of King George V at London. In 1936, he met Adolf Hitler in Germany (even taking Still Photographs of the Fuhrer)[citation needed]. Among the Indian stalwarts that GD Naidu’s camera captured were Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru and Subash Chandra Bose. GD Naidu remained an outsider to Politics, despite having contested and lost in the 1936 Provincial General Elections.

In 1944, Naidu retired from active involvement with his automobile combine and announced several philanthropic measures including grants for Research scholarships and welfare schemes for his employees and the depressed sections of society. Through Naidu’s efforts and his donations the Arthur Hope Polytechnic and the Arthur Hope College of Engineering were set up. In 1967, the G D Naidu Industrial Exhibition, conceptualised, designed and built by the great man himself, was established.

With his demise on the 4th of January, 1974, Coimbatore lost its greatest ambassador to the world. There have been several tributes paid to this legend, but none seems as apt as that by Sir C V Raman: “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!”.

He is credited in manufacturing the first electric motor in India. An Industrial Exhibition in Coimbatore is held in his name. He started the first Engineering college at Coimbatore (now known as Government College of Technology). He provided employment in engineering and manufacturing sector to many individuals in fifties and sixties (early for a home grown entreprenuer in India). He was considered as a visionary in Coimbatore and rest of Tamil Nadu as well.
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