Who was V.O. Chidambaram Pillai ?


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V.O. Chidambaram Pillai popularly known as V.O.C was born on 5th September 1872 to an eminent lawyer Olaganathan Pillai and Paramyee Ammai in Ottapidaram, Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
V.O. Chidambaram Pillai
V.O. Chidambaram Pillai
V.O. Chidambaram Pillai entered politics in 1905 following the partition of Bengal. Towards the end of 1905, he visited Madras ( now Chennai ) and was drawn closer to the Swadeshi Movement initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai. He was drawn towards Ramakrishna Mission and came into contact with Subramania Bharati and the Mandayam family.

He established a Swadeshi merchant shipping outfit by the name of the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company (SSNCo). In the process, he converted Tirunelveli district into a hotbed of intense nationalist politics—to the dismay and anger of the British authorities. The formal birth of the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company (SSNCo) took place on October 16, 1906.
He and another fiery orator, Subramania Siva formed an organisation called the Swadeshi Sangam, or ‘National Volunteers’. He was sent to jail for his struggle for freedom & wherein he was made to replace an ox to operate on the oil press in the hot sun with fetters on his hands and legs. He was finally released on December 24th, 1912.
V.O. Chidambaram Pillai 1972 stamp of India
V.O. Chidambaram Pillai was also an erudite scholar. The autobiography in Tamil verse which he started in prison was completed upon his release in 1912. He also wrote a commentary on the Thirukural and compiled ancient works of Tamil grammar, Tholkappiam. He authored a few novels as well.
He spent his last years (1930s) in Kovilpatti heavily in debt, even selling all of his law books for daily survival.





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