Arthur Hope Sowed The Seeds For Technical Education In Coimbatore

Hope College At Peelamedu Turned A Landmark

Coimbatore has been a city of techcellence for a long time now. A number of developments and the work of quite a few pioneers helped the city to evolve not just itself but the entire region. Industrial Scientist G.D.Naidu was among the top 30 people who had worked to make the city great. Its thanks to the efforts of such great people that Coimbatore is known as the Rome of Kongunad. The sing song ‘Mariyadhai Tamil’ of this region had spawned technology, linguistic tolerance, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Indians were naturally innovative and hard working. They were risk takers as well for they used their ships to conquer the world of commerce. There was a time when our country was the greatest economy in the world. Risk taking and research had been part of Indian life and G.D.Naidu pioneered in the same.
Sir Arthur Hope (1897 – 1958) was a British politician, soldier and administrator. He was part of the Conservative Party and had been a Parliamentarian for some years. During the later part of his career Sir Arthur Hope served as the Governor of the Madras Presidency (1940 – 1946). He had served with distinction in France during the First World War. Arthur Hope joined politics after the war. He married Grizel Gilmour (Daughter of Brigadier General Sir Robert Gordon Gilmour and Lady Susan Lygon) in 1919 and had four daughters. Hope had been awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre. He had been educated at Sandhurst. His father James Hope had served as the Deputy Speaker, House of Commons. He was a member of the House of Commons when he was appointed as the Governor of Madras. He became a Baron by succession during the year 1949.
Circa 1945, Hope inaugurated a polytechnic college built by G.D.Naidu in Coimbatore. This was named as ‘Arthur Hope polytechnic’. This was the big foundation for technical education in Coimbatore. The institution moved away but the place continues to be known as ‘Hope College’ and people continue to remember the role and contribution of G.D.Naidu to technical education. It was a rare instance when private and public partnership created this kind of an institution for the first time. Interestingly a non graduate but amazing innovator G.D.Naidu became its first Head. He had been the one to force Sir Arthur Hope to start the institution. The syllabus and teaching methods were created by G.D.Naidu himself. A few American Technical Institutions sent in a lot of study material and other items in support of the new initiative.
Sir Arthur Hope was getting worried because the Second World war came in the way of creating a fresh building infrastructure. However G.D.Naidu prevailed upon him by offering space for this venture. He suggested that the Government could build later. G.D.Naidu gave away valuable books from his collection for the new ‘Hope College’. Sir Arthur Hope had wanted to recognize the contributions made by G.D.Naidu by honouring him with the title ‘Diwan Bahadur’ but he was not ready to receive it. G.D.Naidu wanted to have a short period study programme but the authorities wanted it to be for a few years.
G.D.Naidu did not continue and a new infrastructure was created in a few years and the Government Polytechnic was born. The Government College of Technology came up due to the persuasion and efforts of G.D.Naidu. He had contributed money and efforts for the institution those days. Coimbatore is today a technological centre and has numerous engineering colleges. Some polytechnics are also doing a great job. Anna University has a 100 plus acre campus in Coimbatore. Today the green NGO Siruthuli has planted more than 75000 trees using the Miyawaki method in the Anna University campus. The seeds had been sown by G.D.Naidu, the pioneering son of Coimbatore.
Today Argus and Hope College are still popular in Peelamedu, the educational capital of Kongunad. The dry village has added to the prosperity of the region while also enriching itself. Commuters and citizens continue to identify the efforts of G.D.Naidu whenever they refer to ‘Hope College’ which continues to be a landmark of HOPE.
Hope College is more than just a landmark for it had offered a glimmer of hope to the people who were keen to pursue technical education. The students who on to get trained under G.D.Naidu or the ones who studied at the pioneering educational institutions of the time like GCT (Government College of Technology), PSG (PSG College of Technology) and CIT (Coimbatore Institute of Technology) went on to become great technocrats and technopreneurs who had acted the beacon light for millions of people around the globe. Its appropriate to remember Sir Arthur Hope, G.D.Naidu and their team for their laudable efforts. This public private partnership put Coimbatore on the Technical Education Map of India.
The past of the city should encourage the Government to bring in big research institutions and the likes of the Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Science in Coimbatore.
Large Corporates from around the world should seek the city for diversified research. The city is luckily blessed with the right attitude and skills. Its really the time for a ‘Once More’.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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One Thought to “Arthur Hope Sowed The Seeds For Technical Education In Coimbatore”

  1. Vijayan

    Really a worthy article on Coimbatore and its greatness is beyond words and the writer could do justice to a great extent.

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