In news– Recently, the Prime Minister paid tribute to V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary.
A brief note on V. O. Chidambaram Pillai(1872-1936)-
- He was born on 5 September 1872 in a Vellalar family in Ottapidaram, Tirunelveli District.
- The legendary freedom fighter was popularly known as ‘Kappalottiya Tamizhan (the Tamil Helmsman)’and Sekkizuththa Semmal (scholarly gentry who suffered at the oil press).
- He graduated from Caldwell College, Tuticorin.
- He entered politics in 1905 following the partition of Bengal.
- Towards the end of 1905, VOC visited Madras and was drawn closer to the Swadeshi Movement initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai.
- It was not until the arrival of V.O. Chidambaram Pillai (VOC) at Tuticorin (Present day Thoothukudi) that the Swadeshi movement in Tirunelveli district began to gather force and momentum.
- VOC was drawn towards Ramakrishna Mission and came into contact with Subramania Bharati and the Mandayam family.
- He founded the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company(SSNC) in 1906 to compete against the monopoly of the British India Steam Navigation Company.
- He launched the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the SSNC, competing against British ships.
- VOC won the active support of another fiery Tamil orator, Subramania Siva.
- VOC and Siva were aided in their efforts by a number of Tirunelveli-based lawyers, who formed an organisation called the Swadeshi Sangam, or ‘National Volunteers’.
- He supported the Tuticorin Coral Mills strike.
- Even prior to Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha, VOC took up the cause of the working class in Tamil Nadu.
- Hence, Tuticorin Port Trust, one of India’s thirteen major ports, is named after him.
- At one time a member of the Indian National Congress, he was later charged with sedition by the British government and sentenced to life imprisonment, and his barrister license was revoked.
- He was awarded a double life-sentence by the British court.
His literary works-
- He had penned commentaries on Tirukkural and Sivagnana Potham.
- He also had a special interest in self-help books of James Allen and translated some of them when he was in the Coimbatore prison.
- The autobiography in Tamil verse which he started in prison was completed upon his release in 1912.
- He also compiled ancient works of Tamil grammar, Tholkappiam.
- He showed ingenuity in his works of Meyyaram and Meyyarivu, praised for spontaneous style.