G.D.Naidu (Gopalaswamy Duraiswamy Naidu) is an Indian inventor and engineer who is also referred to as the Edison of India. His contributions were primarily industrial but also in the fields of electrical, mechanical, agricultural (Hybrid cultivation) and Automobile Engineering. He had only the primary education but excelled as a versatile genius.

Early Life:

G.D. Naidu was born at Kalangal, Coimbatore on March 23, 1893 as the son of a farmer. Naidu worked as a waiter in a hotel in Coimbatore with the intention of saving sufficient money to buy his long awaited motorcycle. After getting the vehicle, he spent a lot of time in dismantling and re-assembling it which later helped him to be a mechanic. He began his transport business in 1920, with an automobile coach and drove it between Pollachi and Palani. In few years, his Universal 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 from G. D. Naidu’s factory “NEW” (National Electric Works) at Peelamedu, Coimbatore.

His Inventions:

G.D. Naidu developed India’s first indigenous motor in 1937 along with Mr. D. Balasundaram. It was the motor’s success that led to the beginning of Textool by Mr. D. Balasundaram and, later on, Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW).

Vehicle G.D.Naidu imported from the British and learnt assembling.
Vehicle G.D.Naidu imported from the British and learnt assembling.

Naidu’s ‘Rasant’ razor incorporated a small motor operated by dry cells, was made at a factory in a German town called Heilbronn. His other inventions are 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 announced that he had the ability to manufacture five-valve Radio sets in India at a mere Rs 70 per set. In 1952, the two-seater petrol engine car (costing a mere Rs 2,000) was 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 researched and identified new varieties in Cotton, Maize and Papaya. His farm was visited by Sir C. V. Raman and Visvesvaraya. From laying the foundation to the completion he had built a house in just 11 hours from morning 6am to evening 5pm.

3rd Prize for UMS Razor Company for Razor blades in an exhibition in 1936 – Leipzieg, Germany.

G.D. Naidu in public service:

In 1944, Naidu retired from active involvement with his automobile and announced several philanthropic measures including grants for research scholarships and welfare schemes for his employees and the depressed sections of society. In 1967, the G D Naidu Industrial Exhibition was established. G.D. Naidu, Rathnasabapathy Mudhaliyar and India’s first finance minister R.K. Shanmukham Chetty conducted a survey, for bringing the Siruvani water to Coimbatore city. Through Naidu’s efforts and donations India’s first Polytechnic College, the Arthur Hope Polytechnic and the Arthur Hope College of Engineering were set up. Later the college moved to its present location and is now known as Government College of Technology (GCT), the college was named after the then Madras governor Arthur Hope. In 1945, GD Naidu was the principal for the college. Naidu was not satisfied with the 4-year programs and said that it was a waste of time for students. He suggested that two year was more than enough to teach the same courses and even with different concentrations. But the British government did not accept his idea and hence G.D. Naidu resigned his post and passed away on January 4, 1974.

Sir CV Raman’s saying on 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”