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Indian History

V. O. Chidambaram Pillai

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  • 07 Sep 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Prime Minister paid tribute to V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, the legendary freedom fighter on his 150th birth anniversary.

  • He was popularly known as Kappalottiya Tamilan (The Tamil Helmsman) and Sekkizuththa Semmal (scholarly gentry who suffered at the oil press).

Key Points

  • Birth:
    • Vallinayagam Olaganathan Chidambaram Pillai (VOC) was born 5th September 1872 to an eminent lawyer Olaganathan Pillai and Paramyee Ammai in Ottapidaram, Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
  • Early Life:
    • VOC graduated from Caldwell College, Tuticorin. Before beginning his law studies, he worked for a brief period as the taluk office clerk.
    • His tussle with the judge forced him to seek fresh pastures at Tuticorin in 1900.
    • Until 1905, professional and journalistic activities consumed most of his energy.
  • Entry in Politics:
  • Role Played in Freedom Movement:
    • By 1906, VOC won the support of merchants and industrialists in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli for the idea of establishing a Swadeshi merchant shipping outfit by the name of the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company (SSNCo).
      • He established many institutions like Swadeshi Prachar Sabha, Dharmasanga Nesavu Salai, National Godown, Madras Agro-Industrial Society Ltd and Desabimana Sangam.
    • 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’.
    • The nationalist movement acquired a secondary character with the beginning of the Tuticorin Coral Mills strike (1908).
    • Even prior to Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha (1917), VOC took up the cause of the working class in Tamil Nadu, and thus he is a forerunner to Gandhiji in this respect.
    • VOC, along with other leaders, resolved to take out a mammoth procession on the morning of 9th March 1908 to celebrate the release of Bipin Chandra Pal from jail and to hoist the flag of Swaraj.
  • Writings: Meyyaram (1914), Meyyarivu (1915), Anthology (1915), Thirukural with literary notes of Manakudavar (1917), Tholkappiam with literary notes of Ilampooranar (1928), Autobiography (1946).
  • Death: V.O.C died on 18th November 1936 in the Indian National Congress Office at Tuticorin as was his last wish.

Source: PIB

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