Evolution of Electric Fans in India since the late colonial period - a brief note

Non-electric fam 19th century, India youtube.com

Above image: Non-electric table fan that ran on kerosene, 1845, East India company.

The history of electric fans in India is a fascinating journey that traces back to the early 20th century, drawing inspiration from the innovations in the USA, where electric fans became commonplace by the 1920s. The advent of fan manufacturing in India is marked by several key milestones and pioneering efforts, especially in the 1930s and 1940s.

The earliest recorded venture into electric fan manufacturing in India was by Kshirode Bihari Chakraborty, who established Clyde Engineering Company Ltd in 1918 in Calcutta. Supported by local aristocrats, Clyde Engineering is credited as the first Indian company to produce electric fans, making Chakraborty a significant figure in the industry’s history.

old type electric fans of IndiaIndianfanassociation.com

During the 1930s, India Electric Works (IEW) emerged as a major player, producing robust and durable fans widely used, including at Southern Indian Railway stations. Around the same time, Orient Fans began its journey, gaining popularity with endorsements from prominent figures like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Acquired by the Birla Group in the 1940s, Orient Fans remains a leading brand today.

Kassel Fans, initially produced by medium-sized manufacturers, eventually merged with Bajaj Electricals and continue to exist in their portfolio. Usha Fans, established in 1946 by industrialist Sir Shriram, transitioned from sewing machines to electric fans and has maintained its prominence over the decades.

The partition of India in 1947 led to the relocation and establishment of many small-scale fan manufacturers in the northern regions. Despite the challenges, these companies played a crucial role in meeting domestic demand. The evolution of electric fans in India is marked by early entrepreneurial ventures, regional manufacturing hubs, and the persistence of legacy brands

Crompton Parkinson, initially a British subsidiary, was acquired by Karam Chand Thapar in 1947, becoming Crompton Greaves. It continues to enjoy a reputation for high-quality fans. Additionally, brands like POWER and Polar were known for their DC ceiling fans and have persisted through various market changes.

The northern regions, particularly Amritsar and Ludhiana, saw a surge in small-scale fan manufacturers post-partition, contributing significantly to the local economy. Notable companies like Hero Fans and Laxmi also emerged during this period.