The inventor of the Vacuum Brake on trains

Colonel Guru Prasad Das

We feel very proud saying that he was a "Barpeita Engineer" but how many of us know about the fact that the brakes in trains were actually invented by an Assamese? How many of us heard his name or know about him? Ok, let's forget the history, the big question is that brakes in trains were invented by an engineer of  Barpeta but "DO WE HAVE A TRAIN STATION Yet" ?? And the main tragic part is that after Guru Prasad Das undoubtedly many engineers are produced from this land but how many of them are really good in their work with the demand of advance technology?? 

INDIAN RAILWAY

The story

 In the earliest days of railways, trains were slowed or stopped manually. There were no brakes to stop a running train until 1930. In this year a scientist who left school in class VIII standard, who hailed from a very backward place invented a vacuum brake for trains which had nomenclature as "Seamless Coil Brake" later. Interestingly I feel very proud to say that this person and me shares the same locality. So my dear readers, lets talk about this personality today, lets put some limelight on the unknown facts about the inventor of GP Brake - Guru Prasad Das. 

       In the year 1905 Guru Prasad Das was born at Bilartarihati of Barpeta. His father was Rama Prasad Das. After finishing his elementary education he took admission in Barpeta Govt High School. But he was very indifferent to his studies. When he was in class VII he became interested in business. In class VIII he took some clothes of silk from an owner of a shop named Ojha Store and without informing anyone he left for Calcutta to set up his own business. Thus for some couple of months, he passed an aimless life. But later he realized that he should work somewhere to live and very soon he started working in a motor-car garage and came to get in touch with some persevering nonresident Assamese like Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaruah, passionate entrepreneurs Bholanath Baruah and Kameswar Das and which was an epoch-making episode of the British period in India. For his assiduous character got a chance to work as a mechanic helper in the motor garage of Bholanath Baruah and passed metric from there and took training in motor vehicle repairing from there. One day, a business person from a steel industry named Thompson & Co. came with his vehicle and was very pleased by his work. He gave him a job in his company and admitted Das to Calcutta Technical School where he got his diploma in mechanical engineering. Not only that he represented Thompson & Co. in a national level workshop which was held in Eden Garden. The British officials were very much amazed at his work. He could draw the attention of a British gentleman and Bilton Bell, the governor of Assam of that time and they sent him to England for higher training at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering after realizing his technical expertise in 1927. During his training period, he made significant improvements in his technical skill and got the opportunity to do research on brakes. For his excellence British government gave him the opportunity to take the degree of Mechanical Engineering and thus he successfully became the first-ever Mechanical Engineer of Assam. After completing his degree he was appointed to the British Navy and thus he was the first mechanical engineer to work in a submarine. Later he went to Germany and invented the "Heat Meter". Coming back from Germany he joined Imperial Railway Service and after a period of five years of relentless work in the field of brakes, he was able to invent a vacuum brake for trains which is popularly known as GP Brake making the "Warne & Co." world-famous in the year 1930. His achievement nominated him as an Associate Member of Mechanical Engineers by the British Government. He was the first Indian Railway Service (IRS) and joined as the Assistant Superintendent of Howrah station of Calcutta under British rule in the year 1931. Later he resigned from Indian Railways and joined Burma Oil Company. He also served as a workshop manager and Mayor of Calcutta Municipality. During World War II, he was appointed as a high official at Defense at Kanpur and retired in the year 1970 as Colonel. He was not only the inventor of GP Brake and Heat Meter but also he invented two other important inventions "Cut off Control Gauge" and "Boiler Safety Valve". He was one of the most worthy personalities that Barpeta had ever produced. This great Assamese scientist cum inventor Colonel Guru Prasad Das breathed his last on 26 March 1982 leaving behind his two sons and his wife Chancala Das.

             Now let's go for a quick review of the bitter parts of today's situation here. Obviously, we feel very proud saying that he was a "Barpeita Engineer" but how many of we know about the fact that the brakes in trains were actually invented by the Assamese people? How many of us heard his name or know about him? Ok let's forget the history, the big question is that brakes in trains was invented by an engineer of  Barpeta but "DO WE HAVE A TRAIN STATION Yet" ?? And the main tragic part is that after Guru Prasad Das undoubtedly many engineers are produced from this land but how many of them are really good in their work with the demand of advance technology?? 

SOURCE - Akshayam Shruta