Gopalaswamy Doraiswamy Naidu: Edison of India | AtomsTalk

DG Naidu or Gopalswamy Doraiswamy Naidufondly remembered as “Edison from India” and “Coimbatore's wealth creator“, is credited with initiating the industrial revolution in the country.

He had only elementary education but distinguished himself as a versatile genius.

He was a Indian inventor and engineer. During his lifetime he worked on several inventions in several fields such as the first electric motor in India.

His contributions were primarily industrial but also spanned the fields of electrical, mechanical, agricultural (hybrid farming) and automotive engineering.

Some of his revolutionary inventions that this creative inventor is known for include a kerosene powered fan, projection television, mechanical calculator, electric razor and ticket machine, most importantly, the first electric motor in the country.

“Mr Naidu is truly a man in a million – perhaps this is an understatement,”
— Nobel Laureate Dr CV Raman

Early life

GD Naidu was born in Kalanga, Coimbatore on March 23, 1893 in a Telugu speaking family. He was the son of a farmer and Naidu lost his mother a few months after his birth.

Young Naidu was never interested in studies and struggled throughout his school life.

He disliked his classes and he was often punished for his habit of throwing sand at teachers during class and therefore chose to drop out in the third standard.

While helping his father on his farm, 16-year-old Naidu caught sight of one 1912 Rudge motorcycle which belonged to a British tax official.

He was so fascinated by the bike that he left his village and moved to Coimbatore. For almost three years, he worked hard as a waiter in a small hotel and saved enough money to buy himself a motorcycle.

After years of hard work, he finally bought the motorcycle from the British officer for 300 rupees and he disassembled it several times to study the design and structure of the engine.

It was Naidu's first foray into understanding cars.

Rudge motorcycle (1912) even a century later the bike is preserved in a Coimbatore museum named after GD Naidu.
Rudge motorcycle (1912) even a century later, the bike is preserved in a Coimbatore museum named after GD Naidu. (source)


After buying the British motorcycle, he spent time taking it apart and putting it back together and later became a mechanic.

In 1920 he started his transport business with the name Universal Motor Services and he bought one car coach. He drove the bus between Pollachi and Palani.

Minibus used by Universal Motor Service (UMS) (source)
Minibus used by Universal Motor Service (UMS) (Source)

In a few years he became so successful that his company Universal Motor Service (UMS) owned the most efficient fleet of public transport vehicles in the country.

Later he also started National Electric Works (NEW) at Peelamedu, Coimbatore and in 1937 he developed the first engine manufactured in India along with D. Balasundaram Naidu.

Universal Radiator Factory, Gopal Clock Industry, Coimbatore Diesel Products and Coimbatore Engineering Private Limited, Coimbatore Armature Winding Works, UMS Radio Industry and Coal manufacturing industry are some of the factories that he founded.

His inventions

His invention that caught everyone's attention was indeed the development of India's first indigenous engine in 1937 along with D. Balasundaram Naidu.

After the success of his engine, he founded Text tool along with Balasundaram and later Lakshmi Machine Works.

In the field of electronics, he developed gadgets that would make everyday life simple. Naidu came on ‘Rapid', electric razor with thin razor blades that contains a small motor powered by dry cells, called Heilbronn.

His other known inventions were as follows:

  • Super thin razor blades,
  • A distance adjustment for film cameras,
  • A fruit juice extractor,
  • A tamper-proof voice recorder and
  • A kerosene powered fan.

In 1941, he invented a five-valve radio set in India in only one way rupees 70 a set so that more people can afford a radio. He came from a poor family, so he did his best to give his audience cheaper solutions to everyday problems.

He was always interested in cars and it was impossible to stop this man from inventing a masterpiece in his sector.

In 1952 he invented a two-seater petrol car only at a price of rupees 2000/- which could provide more people with a car.

But unfortunately the government refused to give him the necessary license and subsequently the product was discontinued.

Naidu as photographer

Apart from being an eminent scientist and businessman, Naidu was also a photographer who loved to travel the world and he captured images of eminent personalities.

He met Adolf Hitler in Germany. He invited K. Kamaraj to many functions. Among the Indian stands captured by Naidu's camera were Mahatma GandhiFirst Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose.

In 1935 he personally filmed the funeral of King George V in London.

The nation's first university of applied sciences

[1945IndianVocationalCollege[1945Indiensförstayrkeshögskola Arthur Hope Polytechnic and that Arthur Hope College of Engineering was established by GD Naidu through Jawaharlal Nehru's efforts and donations.

The college was named after the Governor of Madras Arthur Hope.

Later, the government shifted the college to its present location and renamed it as Government College of Technology (GCT).

Government College of Technology, Coimbatore
Government College of Technology, Coimbatore (Source)


Naidu was a very creative person and never followed the preconceived notions of the faculty. He suggested that two years was more than enough to teach the same courses, even with different concentrations.

However, the British government did not accept his idea and Naidu resigned from his post.


In the end of 1944 he withdrew from all his business and entered the path of several philanthropic measures including contributions to research grants and welfare schemes for its employees and the depressed sections of society.

Just after two years, he founded Industrial Workers' Welfare Association (now known as GD Naidu Charities) with the aim of including practical training in higher education so that students can easily obtain employment.

He always wanted to help middle class people and make their lives easier.

Naidu's life after retirement was mostly devoted to making society better by coming up with welfare schemes for his employees and the underprivileged.

He would give grants to scientists who showed potential for inventions just like him.

He wanted to give everything to the people that he did not have the privilege of having.


GD Naidu died on 4 January 1974 at the age of 80 in TamilNadu.

Sir CV Raman said of Naidu: “A great educator, an entrepreneur in many fields of technology and industry, a warm-hearted man filled with love for his fellows and a desire to help them in their problems, Mr. Naidu is truly a man in a million – perhaps this is an understatement! “

His son GD Gopal and his grandchildren DG Rajkumar and Shantini built a permanent industrial exhibition in his memory at Coimbatore.

GD Matriculation High School and GeDee Public school in Coimbatore is named after him. It was managed by his daughter-in-law Chandra Gopal. His grandson GD Rajkumar now runs Geedee Industries. His granddaughter Shanthini Choudhry runs The Grand Regent hotel in Coimbatore.

Dr CV Raman best described Naidu's diverse life,

“A great educator, an entrepreneur in many fields of technology and industry, a warm-hearted man filled with love for his fellows and a desire to help them in their problems, Mr Naidu is truly a man in a million – perhaps this is an understatement. “

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