The Freedom Fighter Who Started A Shipping Company To Take On British Monopoly

The Logical Indian

April 30th, 2016

Image Courtesy: wikimedia

Valliappan Olaganathan Chidambaram Pillai popularly known as V.O.C. was a Tamil political leader and he was a disciple of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was fiercely patriotic, challenged the British both in business and politics. He was one of the pioneers who owned Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, a member of the Indian National Congress and also a barrister.

V.O.C set up the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company (SSNC), one of the first Indian shipping companies. The company was established to compete against the monopoly of the British India Steam Navigation Company. The company plied ships between Tuticorin and COlombo during the Indian freedom struggle. The company was set up with a initial capital of 10 lakh ( a huge sum then). Reflective of the communal harmony, Janab Haji Mohammed Bakir Seit paid Rs 2,00,000 for 8,000 shares, which was the first capital for the Company. The company was liquidated by the British and the ship he owned was sold to a British company, the entire liquidation and sale happened when V.O.C was in prison.


Joining of congress
The Swadeshi movement charged the political atmosphere of India then and added great momentum to India’s independence movement. V.O.C was filled with passion to serve the nation in any or all capacities possible, but however, following the partition of Bengal in 1905, Chidambaram entered politics, joining the INC. The anger over the partition of Bengal had not subsided in V.O.C.


Relation with Congress
In 1920, Chidambaram withdrew from the Indian National Congress, citing ideological differences with Mahatma Gandhi. He rejoined the Congress party in 1927 and presided over the third political conference held at Salem before severing his contact with Congress.


Sedition charges against V.O.C
V.O.C ‘s fierce campaigns and speeches got the attention of British and was arrested by them.  The arrest met with widespread protest. In Thirunelveli shops, schools and colleges were closed in protest, and rioting broke out. A general strike was declared in Thoothukudi, which is widely believed to be the first political strike in India.

The way this great man ended his life by running small stores in Chennai is a story to be forgotten.


The Logical Indian salutes this great freedom fighter who has largely been forgotten by historians and people alike. We take this opportunity to pay tribute to this Indian jewel who forego all his possession for the nation’s independence.

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