Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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V. O. Chidambaram Pillai

Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), Tamil Nadu

August 14, 2021


Valliyappan Ulaganathan Chidambaram, also known by his initials V.O.C.(at times referred to as KappalottiyaTamizhan or 'The Tamil Helmsman'), was an Indian freedom fighter. He was a prominent lawyer, trade union leader, and leader in the Indian National Congress. He mobilized the workers of the Coral Mills, thereby expanding the social base of the Swadeshi movement. This led to a conflict with the British Raj. In 1906, he established the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, which competed with the monopoly of the British India Steam Navigation Company.

Valliyappan, in completion with the British ships, launched the first Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the help of Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company. One of India's major ports, i.e. Tuticorin Port Trust, is named after him. He was charged with sedition by the British colonial government and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His barrister license was also revoked.