DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

The first Indian who started a shipping company in British India- V.O.Chidambaram Pillai

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Preface:

V.O.Chidambaram Pillai ;or V.O.C., was born in Thuthukudi in 1872. V.O.C’s father was a renowned layer in the town, and he wanted his son to follow his steps. V.O.C followed his father’s footsteps but took a sharp turn by taking cases against the British government, which V.O.C.’s father didn’t like much.

Fight against British:

V.O.C. supported movements against the British government and its policies. He openly protested against the British in many cases and was under constant vigilance of the British government.

V.O.C. developed a good friendship with Subramanian Siva and Subramaniya Bharathi, who got labeled as revolutionaries by the British India government. V.O.C. and Subramani Siva were followers of the Indian National Congress and attended the I.N.C. conference in Varanasi and Surat. They both developed a unique friendship that lasted for a long time.

V.O.C. and Siva decided to celebrate the release of Chandra Powney from jail, A celebrated freedom fighter from West Bengal. Collector Winch didn’t grant permission for the celebration. V.O.C. and Siva went on with the ceremony baring the ban. They were both arrested and produced to the district magistrate. Riots spread across Tuticorin and Tirunelveli the worse seen in decades. British tried with iron hands to bring down the riots. This arrest of V.O.C. and Siva was the ignition point for Vanchinathan and his friends to take up arms to fight against the British. Vanchinathan would later kill Collector Ashe.

Arrest and Torture:

V.O.C. and Siva were convicted and got sentenced to 40 years of rigorous imprisonment. They got charged under a Non-bailable section that barred V.O.C. from attending his father’s funeral. In Coimbatore, jail V.O.C got tortured by making him run the Seed grinding machine from which oil gets extracted. It was hard labor, and he was slowly breaking physically and mentally. At last, after many appeals, his sentence was reduced to 4 1/2 years, and he was not allowed to go to Tuticorin. He went to Chennai and pursued his career in law. He rejoined congress and again came out of congress due to ideological issues.

The company he floated Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company got liquidated and the irony is the British Steam company bought the ships.

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