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Mr G. D Naidu – Rise of “Edison of India”

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.

These are the words of Sir C.V.Raman summarizing the life of “Edison of India” Mr Gopalswamy Doraiswamy Naidu. He is the man behind propelling the action for the industrial revolution in the country. Some of his mind-blowing inventions that he is renowned for are tv, mechanical calculator, electric razor, kerosene-run fan, projection, a ticket for the vending machine, and most importantly, the first electric motor of the country. The list signifies his contribution in the fields like electrical, agricultural, mechanical and automobile.

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Mr Naidu was born in a Telugu speaking family on 23rd March 1893. Unfortunately, he lost his mother a few months after his birth. Studies never excited him, and so he left school in the third standard. When he was 16 years old, he saw a 1912 model Rudge motorcycle that belonged to a British revenue officer. This was the first time that sparked his curiosity for automobiles, and he left his native village Kalangal and moved to Coimbatore.

In Coimbatore, he worked for three years at a hotel as a waiter. The reason behind working as a waiter was to save enough money to buy a bike. His hard work paid off, and he purchased a bike for Rs.300. Today the same bike is displayed in a Coimbatore museum named after G.D Naidu. Naidu was so eager to learn about automotive that he dismantled the bike multiple times to study the design and structure of it. Not only this but to quest his thirst, he also worked as a mechanic for some time.

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Later he set up his cotton business and tried to expand it in Bombay. That didn’t work out for him well. But failure never stopped him. He always tried something new and always had a better version than the existing one.

It was in 1920, when a Coimbatore based industrialist, Robert Stanes, gave a loan of Rs. 4,000 to Naidu to buy a motorcoach. Naidu began his transport business using this coach. He drove the bus by himself in the initial years. He realized there is a huge potential in this business because the only way for people to travel inter-city was via bullock carts or walking. By 1933, he possessed a fleet of 280 buses. His transport business had a name – “Universal Motor Service” (UMS), which became one of the big shots in the public transport services in the country.

Every innovation which he launched, he would start a company and generate employment. Some of the factories founded by Mr Naidu are 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. Just imagine the kind of employment that might have been generated by such companies.

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Naidu was also engaged in farming activities, and he grew millet and ten-feet-high cotton plants. Many people visited his farm for guidance, and one of them was Nobel Prize recipient for Physics, C V Raman.

After this retirement, he founded the Industrial Labour Welfare Association (G.D. Naidu Charities), aspiring to impart practical training in higher education to pave a road for easy employment.

No wonder the words said by C.V.Raman are an understatement to describe the deeds of Mr Naidu. What are your views on Mr Naidu’s Work? We would love to hear you out.

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