Capt. G.R Gopinath – Armyman Who Made Air Travel Dream Come True For Middle Class Indians

‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’ is an old saying, Today it is reframed as—‘Jack of all trades and master of one.’ The current competitive world demands multi-ball jugglers rather than specialized individuals. Whether it is Cricket field or Entrepreneurship arena, demand is for all-rounder personalities. Capt. G. R Gopinath who has played roles of a Dairy farmer, Sericulture consultant, Poultry farmer, Hotel owner, Enfield Bike Dealer, Stock Broker, Aviation Entrepreneur, Politician, Columnist and above all retired army captain is a synonym for ‘multi-ball juggler’ of the business world. Capt. Gopinath has boldly taken failures and success into his strides with equanimity and even today at the age of 66 is bubbling with energy to take up new ventures.

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Early Life & Education

Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath was born on November 13th, 1951 at a remote place called Gorur in Hassan District of Karnataka. He was the second one among eight siblings. His father was a school teacher and believed that schools are meant only to impose discipline amongst the kids, didn’t admit his son to school at an early age and did home tutoring. He was admitted directly to 5th standard in a Kannada medium school. Further, in 1962 he cleared military school admission test and joined Sainik School of Bijapur. The rigorous training at Sainik school helped Gopinath to clear National Defence Academy – NDA test and joined prestigious National Defence Academy. He completed his three years of training at NDA and joined Indian Military Association – IMA. On successful completion of the course at IMA, Gopinath got placed in Indian Armed Forces.

Multifaceted Career      

IMA graduation earned him a place in Indian Army and served there for eight years and retired with the designation of Captain in the year 1979. In his short stint in the Army, he fought in 1971 Indo-Bangladesh war.  Capt. Gopinath being a free soul felt army rules and regulations more restrictive and took early retirement. Once when he was in civilian attire, he took up various ventures like ecologically sustainable sericulture farming. This initiative won him Rolex Laureate Award in 1996. True to his proactive nature he didn’t stick to this business for a long time, he started Malnad Motors – an Enfield Bike Showroom in Hassan and even started bought a Hotel. By this time Captain had relocated to Hassan to facilitate better education for his daughters. But his agro-enterprise continued, and he used to visit his native place and continued consultancy for rural farmers.  By now Captain’s confidence was high and was mulling to start anything massive. He relocated to Bangalore and joined hands with his army friend Capt. J Seymol and started Deccan Aviation in the year 1996. While all other ventures of Capt. Gopinath can be considered as one side of a coin; His Aviation Career has its importance which gained him reputation across the Nation as the Man who cherished the dream of Common Man to fly which otherwise was aristocrats transport.

Aviation Career of Capt. G. R Gopinath can be segmented into three stages. First being Chartered Helicopter Service under the banner of Deccan Aviation started in the year 1996 – which aimed at providing chartered copters for VIP and VVIPs. It was a major hit among Indian Politicians as the majority of them relied upon Deccan Aviation for their emergency travel itineraries. Even today it is one of the biggest air charter companies operating in India and Sri Lanka. The taste of success in operating chartered helicopter service made Capt. Gopinath to try something for the benefit of lower-middle class and a middle-class population of this country, whose dreams of flying in the air was mirage owing to the fact it was the costliest means of transport available.  Thus Captain initiated his second aviation venture called Air Deccan (The year 2003) to cater to the needs of huge masses of this Nation through cheapest possible fares. Today Capt. Gopinath is a household name in Nation due to this adventure.  It is Air Deccan which brought ‘Flying’ in common man’s reach. Soon it claimed 22% stake in Indian aviation industry with an approximately fleet of 43 aircraft and 350 flights flying every day to 61 destinations. Unfortunately by 2007 Aviation industry faced stiff competition and Air Deccan incurred massive losses. Capt. Gopinath had to sell it off to Liquor Baron Vijay Mallya, who rechristened it has Kingfishers Airlines.

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The Third venture is initiating an Air-Cargo service called Deccan 360, which is first Indian Hub- Spoke model that connects Tier-1 metropolitan cities with Tier-2 cities. It was renamed as Deccan Cargo and Express Logistics Pvt. Ltd. (DCEL) in the year 2007-2008. But due to Public Interest Litigation-PIL at Karnataka High Court its operation was also stopped.

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Role as Politician and Writer   

Though Capt. G. R Gopinath contested two Lok Sabha elections in the year 2009 and 2014 with the ambition to serve as Member of Parliament, he is unsuccessful. In 2009 he contested as independent candidate whereas in 2014 he lost a ticket from Aam Admi Party.

Awards & Recognitions   

Capt. G. R Gopinath has been awarded various rewards for his contribution as an entrepreneur.

  • The year 1996 – Rolex Awards for Enterprise
  • 2005 – Rajyotsava Award  from  Govt. of Karnataka
  • 2007 – Knight award from France Govt. –‘Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.’
  • Sir M Visvesvaraya Memorial Award  from Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry

Also, Capt. G. R Gopinath is the grandson of Kannada literary giant Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar, and he has inherited the first name from him. Kalam Fan Club Wishes Capt. Gopinath great success in his future endeavors too.

Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._R._Gopinath

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