G. D. Naidu (1893-1974) was an Indian engineer, inventor, and businessman. He is known as the “Edison of India” and “the wealth creator of Coimbatore.” A school dropout, G. D. Naidu made notable contributions to the fields of electrical, mechanical, agricultural, and automobile engineering. In 1974, he died at the age of 80.
Gopalaswamy Doraiswamy Naidu The Times of India was born on Thursday, 23 March 1893 (age 80 years; at the time of death) in Kalangal village, Coimbatore District, Madras Presidency, British India (now Tamil Nadu, India). His zodiac sign is Aries. When he was studying in school, he did not like attending classes. He often used to get in trouble for not attending classes, so, he dropped out of school in 3rd standard. Later, he began to work at a ginning mill in a village near Sulur. Once, while he was working at his father’s farmland, he saw a British revenue officer’s 1912 model Rudge motorcycle and got fascinated by the bike; he was 16 years old at that time. So, he left Kalangal village and moved to Coimbatore to earn money.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper (Semi-bald)
Eye Colour: Black
G. D. Naidu belonged to a Telugu family of farmers in Kalangal village, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Gopalsamy, was a farmer.
Wife & Children
His wife’s name was Ranganayakiammal.
He had a son named G.D. Gopal.
He also had two grandchildren named G.D. Rajkumar and Shantini. Shantini owns The Grand Regent Hotel in Coimbatore.
After dropping out of school, he worked as a waiter for more than three years at a hotel in Coimbatore to save money for purchasing a motorcycle. He dismantled his motorcycle and reassembled it, after which he became a mechanic.
In 1920, he purchased an automobile coach and began a transport business company named Universal Motor Service (UMS). He started his transport business between Pollachi and Palani cities in Tamil Nadu. A few years later, his company Universal Motor Service (UMS) became one of the top companies in India to own a convoy of public transport vehicles. By 1933, he owned 280 buses.
In 1936, he contested the provincial general elections; however, he lost the elections.
In 1937, he and D. Balasundaram Naidu, an electrical engineer, collaborated with each other and created the first indigenous motor in India. Later, he invented the first electric razor called ‘Rasant,’ whose electric motor worked by using dry cells.
He had invented around 100 gadgets, including super-thin shaving blades, a distance adjuster for film cameras, a fruit juice extractor, a tamper, a proof vote, a recording machine, and a kerosene run fan. In 1935, he visited London in England to shoot the funeral ceremony of King George V. He captured many famous personalities on his camera including Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, and Subhas Chandra Bose.
In 1936, he invented a voting machine. In 1941, he revealed that he could create a radio set with five-valve in India at just seventy rupees. In 1941, he built a 40-acre farm at Podhanur, where he researched on various crops. He made significant contributions to the field of agriculture by discovering new varieties of cotton, maize, and papaya. C. V. Raman, a famous Indian physicist, and M. Visvesvaraya, a well-known Indian Civil Engineer, visited his farm.
In 1952, he introduced a two-seater petrol engine car at just 2000 rupees. Since the government did not grant the necessary license for manufacturing the engine car, the production had to be stopped. He was also known for creating cheap houses. He once constructed a house from laying its foundation to completion in a time period of about eight hours. Many houses of such kind were constructed in 1967-68.
Since he was interested in the Siddha system of medicine, he did many experiments in the field of medicine also. He was one of the first persons in India, who invented ball pen, ball pen refills, and carbon paper.
In 1944, G. D. Naidu began to provide research grants for research scholarships. He also started welfare schemes for his employees and oppressed sections of society. In 1945, he established the first polytechnic institute of India Arthur Hope Polytechnic in Coimbatore and became its first principal. In the same year, he started an engineering college named Arthur Hope College of Engineering and was the first principal of the college.
After the British government did not accept his suggestion of decreasing the duration of the four-year programs to two years as he considered it a waste of students’ time, G. D. Naidu resigned from the post of principal. In 1946, he founded Industrial Labour Welfare Association (now known as G.D. Naidu Charities) to give students practical training and prepare them for jobs. In the 1950s and 60s, he provided employment to many job seekers in the field of engineering and other sectors.
In Popular Media
On 9 August 2019, the biopic ‘GD Naidu – The Edison of India’ won Best Science & Technology Film Award at the 66th National Film Awards. The documentary film was screened at the Indisches Film Festival 2019 in Germany and many others.
- The G. D. Naidu Science Museum Industrial Exhibition was established in 1967.
- The Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) introduced the G. D. Naidu Young Scientist Award to honour G. D. Naidu. The award is given to students for their work in the field of mechanical engineering and research.
- Makkal Sinthanai Peravai, a non-profitable public organization in Erode, Tamil Nadu presents an annual award in the name of G. D. Naidu to an outstanding young researcher working in India.
- He was the first Indian Businessman to hire a Britisher in his company.
- He was an avid photographer. He once visited Germany and spent a lot of time in the factories of camera-making companies such as Leica, Minox, and Rolleiflex.
- His company, UMS Razor Company, won 3rd prize for razor blades in an exhibition in Leipzig, Germany.
- In a 1950 interview, C. V. Raman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, praised G. D. Naidu for his achievements and said,
- He once received a Rolls-Royce car as a gift and was the only person to own that car in India at that time.
- His grandson G. D. Rajkumar owns Geedee Industries, which was named after G. D. Naidu.
- His daughter-in-law Chandra Gopal runs G. D. Matriculation Higher Secondary School and GEDEE Public School in Coimbatore, which were named after G. D. Naidu.
- He was a vintage car enthusiast and had a huge collection of it including the Benz Motorwagon, Ford T, Volkswagen Beetle, Citroen – 2 CV, and Mini. On 27 April 2015, his son G. D. Gopal inaugurated the Gedee Car Museum in his father’s memory.
- In 2015, M. A. Palaniappan released a Tamil book titled ‘Athisaya Vignani G.D. Naidu’ based on the life story of G. D. Naidu.
- He used to smoke occasionally.