Celebrating 73rd Independence: V.O. Chidambaram – What made him involve in the struggle?


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How did the political journey start? 

Celebrating our 73rd Independence day, there can be no good reason to think of the great leader’s sacrifices. One such leader is V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. A great legend who wholeheartedly involved in independence and struggle. No matter how many times we see the story of V.O.C, it always left us with a feeling of patriotism and goosebumps. He was fondly called as ‘Kappalottiya Tamizhan’ (The Tamil Helmsman) and Sekkizhutha Semmal. So, what incident changed this man to contribute to the Nation? In Chennai, Chidambaram, met Ramakrishnananthar, a saint who belonged to Swami Vivekananda Ashram.

Ramakrishnananthar is advised to “do something for the nation?”. Also, he met the Tamil Poet Subramanya Bharathiyaar who shared his political ideology. Thus Subramani and V.O.C became close friends.

Swadeshi and Service:
Along with Subramanya Siva and Subramanya Bharathi, V.O.C became a prominent spokesperson in Madras Presidency. In 1905, Chidambaram entered politics joining the Indian National Congress Party. Since then, he maintained a great history in such a way for us to reminiscent about him now. Chidambaram started an Indian owned Shipping company (Swadeshi Company) in response to the British India Steam Navigation company’s(BISNC) trade monopoly. At all the conditions and plans BISNC executed against the Swadeshi company, V.O.C struggled hard to uplift the company and raise the company’s capital. In fact, in the beginning, when the company had no ships, they had to take a lease from Shawline Steamers Company. But the BISNC has pressured Shawline to cancel the lease. A brave V.O.C leased a single large freighter from Sri Lanka. “I will come back with Ships. Otherwise, I will perish in the sea”, said the man with strong determination, as the company was in need of having its own ships. He traveled all over India to sell the shares.

Struggle and Imprisonment – Yet not giving up the friendship of his fellow comrades
Chidambaram’s political involvement drew the attention of the British. On knowing of V.O.C’s intention to speak at a really celebrating the release of Bengali Leader Bipin Chandra Paul, Winch, a British official invited Chidambaram to meet him in Thirunelveli with his political comrade Subramanya Siva. At the meeting, Winch made an offer to V.O.C but in turn, asked Chidambaram to not to participate in any revolt thereafter. When Chidambaram refused, he and Subramaniya Siva were both arrested by british. After the arrest, a huge protest broke. Although his supporters gathered enough money for bail, Chidambaram refused to leave the jail without the release of Siva and his other comrades. In prison, he suffered a lot. The officials replaced bulls with V.O.C to oil press in a cruel hot summer. After being released from prison to his dismay, the swadeshi company had already been liquidated and the ships were sold in an auction. sadly, the first ship (A ship which V.O.C struggled hard to fetch for the company) was sold to the British Shipping Company. Even after all the disappointments, he served as a good political leader in congress.


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