Naval Godrej was one of the pioneers of India’s machine manufacturing and has initiated the Indian development and manufacture of many world-class machines including the typewriter, forklifts, and refrigerators. Naval was born in the year 1916 to the illustrious Godrej family which was a household name in the field of home appliances. Naval’s father was the younger brother of the founder of the Godrej group of industries. He has two children namely Jamshyd Godrej and Smita Chrisna. Both of them are actively involved in the Godrej group to help it achieve its vision and mission.
Naval Godrej has been an inspiration behind many successful industrial machines and household products. His vision and mission were to contribute towards India’s self-reliance in industrial manufacturing. He has been one of the founding members of Indian Machine Tools Association which was responsible for bringing the knowledge of latest machines to India. His affinity towards tools and machines led him to develop the Godrej Tool Room which became the centre of innovation for him and his colleagues. He brought the manufacturing of typewriter and refrigerator to India with the help of this tool room. The typewriter was first manufactured by Naval in India and the first indigenously made Indian typewriter was manufactured by Godrej in the year 1955. Commercial manufacturing of the typewriter began much later after many trials and errors. Naval tested many models before he was wholly satisfied with the outcome of the typewriters. His main aim was to make the lives of the typists easier. His work in the field of refrigeration and other household appliances made it easier for the common man to afford home appliances made within India. Naval also initiated the manufacturing of hermetically sealed containers which are being used in many industrial processes till today.
Naval was also actively involved in all lines of business including the construction of Godrej’s industrial township in Vikhroli. He partnered with ISRO for designing the motor casing for PSLV satellites. This collaboration gave way to the development of the Godrej Aerospace, which specialized in designing integral components for ISRO’s ambitious space projects. His need and love for these machines grew in the time of war when the machines needed by the Godrej group to run their businesses were no longer available for import from outside countries. It was then that he decided to manufacture all these machines indigenously. Naval Godrej was also involved in various philanthropic works which reflected his down to earth personality and approachable nature. He also carried out many development works for the benefit of the Parsi community and their needs. Naval initiated the foundation of Research in Community Health (FRCH), which was aimed at providing quality healthcare access to the deprived communities. Naval was one of many industrial leaders who worked towards eradicating leprosy in India.
Naval’s contribution to India’s machine industry earned him the Padma Bhushan award in the year 1976 in the category of Trade & Industry. The Godrej group is celebrating Naval’s birth centenary year this year to honor and commemorate the visionary’s mission to make India a leading manufacturer of Industrial goods.