Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who started his life as a school teacher, rose to the position of the President of India, a gubernatorial post respected by the entire country. He passed away at the age of 86 in 17 April 1975 in Chennai. Similarly, today is the birth day of V O Chidambaram Pillai, a multi-faceted personality and renowned freedom fighter.
He was a book author, translator and journalist. He was a cut above the rest in his political life and service to Tamil. Hailed as Kappalottiya Tamilan and Sekkizhutha Semmal, he was born on 05 September 1872 in Ottapidaram village in Thoothukudi district. He served as lawyer for some time. Later he was drawn into swadeshi movement by Bala Gangadhar Tilak who honoured Chidambaram in 1890.
He started Dharmasanga weaving society and also opened shops to promote swadeshi products. A British company had been enjoying domination in the shipping transport between Thoothukudi and Colombo. Chidambaram started his own shipping company 1906 by launching two vessels against the British. His shipping company enjoyed the support of local merchants.
A friend of Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Chidambaram attended the Surat Congress conference in 1907. He lent his support to the workers of the Coral mill in Thoothukudi when they went on strike. These acts of Chidambaram irritated the British. The British charged him with instigating mutiny and arrested him in 1908. He was awarded double life term and he was barred from practising as lawyer.
While in jail he was not treated as a political prisoner. He underwent various tortures at the hands of the British who made him to run the ‘chekku’ (oil expeller). When he was in jail the British crippled his shipping company.
He was released from jail in 1912. After his release from jail, Chidambaram engaged himself in trade, politics, legal services, writing books etc. He passed away on 18 November 1936. Let us feel proud that stalwarts like Radhakrishnan and Chidambaram were born on this soil.