V.O. Chidambaram Pillai (popularily known as V..C.) was one of the clourful figures in Indian political life. He was an erudite scholar in Tamil, a prolific writer, a fray speaker, a trade union leader of unique calibre and a dauntless fighter for the fredom of NAtion. His life is a story of resisitance, strife, struggle, suffering and sacrifice for te cause of political, social and economic emancipation of India. V.O.C. was born at Ottapidaram village in Tiruneveli district of Tamil Nadu on the 5th Sept., 1872, as the eldest son of Ulaganath Pillai and Paramayi Ammai. He had his high school education at Tuticorin and studied further in Tiruchirapalli qualifying to practice law in 1895. As a lawyer he won the esteem of eminent judges for his sincerity and ability in championing the causes of the oppressed. Events of freedom strugle attracted V.O.C. He organised people to fight the foreign economic imperialism also by challenging the monopoly of the British Maritime trade in India. In 1906, he formed the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company having regualar services between Tuticorin and Colombo. His courage and determination to run the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company against the stern opposition of the British traders and the Imperial Government won the proud acclaim of one and all. Added to this, V.O.C. organised Tiuticorian "Coral Mills" strike and broke the tranny of the British capabilities, who at the end agreed to enhance the wages and reduce the working hours. As an organiser of many institutions, like the "Swadeshi Prachara Sabha," "Dharmasangha Nesavuchalai," "National Godown," "Madras Agro-Industrial Society Ltd.," and "The Desabimana Sangam," V.O.C. stands out as a towering personality. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai took an active part in the freedom struggle and he was close friend of dynamic leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. After his return from the Surat Congres in 1907, he became a hardliner in the political aspirations. His powerful personality won mass appeal leading to upheavelsat Tuticorin and Tirunelvelli. Charged with offences of sedition he was sentenced for 40 years of imprisonment. On appeal the sentence was reduced to six years. After his release in 1912 he turned to his chosen world of ideas. He completed his autobiography which he started writing in prison, in Tamil in a verse form. His translation of some of James Allen's brilliant books earned him an indisputable reputation of being an erudite Tamil scholar. His original Tamil works like "Meyyaram" and "Meyyarivu" speak out of his creative mind so restless for its uninhibited expression. V.O.C. attended the Calcutta Congress in 1920 but gradually withdrew himself from active part in politics and devoted his time to the practice of law where he gave his service to noble causes. He passed away on the 18th Nov., 1936. The Indian Posts & Telegraphs department is proud to honour this illustrious patriot by issuing a special postage stamp on the 5th September, 1972, on the occasion of his birth centenary.
The stamp depict his portrait and a passenger ship, I am not sure she was a ship belonging to his company the Swadeshi Shipping Company or that it is a ship type of that time.
The Swadeshi Shipping Company was founded in 1906, and after first chartering ships she bought two ships the GALLIA from France and the LAWOE from the Netherlands.
The GALLIA was a passenger ship built in 1904 in Nantes for Cie Francaise de Nav et de Cn et Satre Reunis, Nantes by Satre Reunis, Nantes. Launched as GALLIA. Can’t find a photo of the ship so I can’t compare it with the stamp. She was end 1907 bought by Swadeshi SN Co, Ltd, Colombo, and sold 1912. Foundered at her moorings at Calcutta 18 June 1921.
LAWOE: Built as a cargo vessel by Raylton Dixon & Co., Middlesbrough, U.K for the Stoomboot Rederij Rotterdamsche Lloyd, Rotterdam in 1881. Launched as the ZUID HOLLAND. Comparing a photo with the stamp, she is not depict.
1894 Renamed by NV Rotterdamsche Lloyd in LAWOE.
End 1907 sold to Swadeshi SN Co. Ltd, Tuticorin, and 1911 sold to P. Easwaramurthia Pillai, Tuticorin.
The LAWOE on a voyage from Bombay to Marseilles loaded with groundnuts etc. on 15 June 1917 went missing.
India 1972 20p sg663, scott
Source: http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz and various internet sites.
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