G. D. Naidu (Gopalaswamy Doraiswamy Naidu) was born on 23 March 1893 in Kalangal, Coimbatore, India &am died on 4 January 1974 in Coimbatore, India, was an Indian inventor and engineer who is also referred to as the Edison of India. He is credited with the manufacture of the first electric motor in India. His contributions were primarily industrial but also span the fields of electrical, mechanical, agricultural (Hybrid cultivation) and automobile engineering. He had only primary education but excelled as a versatile genius. Among his hobbies was train travel to nearby cities.
G.D. Naidu was born in a naidu family at Kalangal, near Coimbatore. His Father’s name was Gopalaswamy Naidu. On one fine day there was a British driving a motor cycle to his Kalangal village. While others were amused by the foreigner; young Gopalswamy was inspired by the motor cycle. He longed that somehow he should drive it. Being driven by his thoughts he ran away from his village and joined as a waiter in a hotel in Coimbatore. He worked there for three years and saved up to 400 rupees. Meanwhile he came to know the whereabouts of the British who was a surveyor. He went to that surveyor and dropped his 400 rupees at his feet. Seeing the never giving attitude of the young boy the surveyor gave him the motor cycle. Ecstatic young Doraiswamy drove it and also learned everything by dismantling and assembling the motor cycle and later became a mechanic. He began his transport business in 1920, with the purchase of an automobile coach. He drove it between Pollachi and Palani. In a 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.
G.D. Naidu developed India’s first indigenous motor in 1937 along with D. Balasundaram. It was the motor’s success that resulted in the founding of Textool by Balasundaram and, later on, Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW).
Naidu’s ‘Rasant’ razor incorporated a small motor operated by dry cells, was made at a factory in the German town called Heilbronn. Among his other inventions were 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/- a set. In 1952, the two-seater petrol engine 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 researched and identified new varieties in Cotton, Maize and Papaya. His farm was visited by Sir C. V. Raman and Visvesvaraya. From laying foundation to completion he has built house in just 8 hours.
In 1935, he personally filmed the funeral of King George V at London. In 1936, he met Adolf Hitler in Germany. He invited K. Kamaraj in many functions. Among the Indian stalwarts that Naidu’s camera captured were Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru and Subash Chandra Bose. Naidu remained an outsider to politics, despite having contested and lost in the 1936 Provincial General Elections. He was gifted a Rolls Royce car and he was the only one who had this costly luxury at those times.
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 donations the Arthur Hope Polytechnic and the Arthur Hope College of Engineering were set up. In 1967, the G D Naidu Industrial Exhibition was established.
G.D. Naidu, Rathnasabapathy Mudaliar and India’s first finance minister R. K. Shanmukham Chetty conducted survey, for bringing Siruvani water to the Coimbatore city.
India’s first Polytechnic college was build in Coimbatore by GD Naidu in the name of Hope College and later the college moved to another place now it is called as Government College of Technology, the college was name after the then Madras governor Arthur Hope. In 1945, GD Naidu was the principal for the college, when it is started he was not satisfied with 4 years course because he said it is waste of time for students. And suggested that one year was enough to teach the same courses to students, but British government didn’t accept his idea and thus G.D. Naidu resigned his post. The name Hope College for a place remains same in Coimbatore even now.
He died on 4 January 1974. 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!”
An Industrial Exhibition is held in Coimbatore, in his name. He started the first Engineering college at Coimbatore (now known as Government College of Technology). He provided employment in the engineering and manufacturing sectors to many individuals in the 1950s and 1960s.
G. D. Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Coimbatore is named after him. It is managed by his daughter-in-law Mrs. Chandra Gopal. His grandson Mr. G.D. Rajkumar now runs the Geedee industries. There is also a driving school by his name, in Coimbatore.