The four-minute video offers a short history of VO Chidambaranar Pillai, better known as VOC, famous for starting the Swadeshi Shipping Company among other acts of opposing Colonial rule.

V. O. Chidambaram PillaiWikimedia Commons
news Controversy Saturday, January 22, 2022 - 12:35

In the backdrop of the controversy regarding the rejection of Tamil Nadu’s tableaux in the Republic Day Parade, the DMK women's wing has released a short video on the history VO Chidambaram Pillai, whose bust is a part of the rejected tableaux. VO Chidambaranar Pillai, better known as VOC, or by the Tamil title Kappalottiya Thamizhan, was a trained barrister, an Indian National Congress member and politically active in agitating against colonial rule. He started the Swadeshi Shipping Company in 1906, to break the trade monopoly Britain held through the British India Steam Navigation Company.

In the DMK's video, VOC is described as “the most important” of all those who opposed British rule. “He gave them a taste of their own medicine and shook the foundation of the British tradeverse, deemed the most dangerous man to the British,” a voice over in the video says. In it, VOC is described as someone who chose to fight for his country despite his riches.

“The Swadeshi movement ignited by VOC rose on par with the Non Cooperation Movement,” the video says. VOC’s participation in the Coral Mill Worker’s protest of 1908 and his work in demanding class representation is also mentioned. The video was released on Twitter by DMK Rajya Sabha MP and Women’s Wing Secretary M Kanimozhi.

The video also talks about the double life sentence (later reduced) given to VOC on charges of sedition, and that his barrister license was stripped from him. On a surprising note, the video ends with dialogue from the Pa Ranjith directed, Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala, in which the Superstar can be heard saying “Samjha? Samajlena!” (Understood? You better understand). As the film was set in Dharavi, Mumbai, Rajini had a smattering of Hindi dialogues in the film while addressing the villains.

The Union government had earlier denied any motives behind rejecting Tami Nadu’s tableaux after it made it to the third round of selection. Sources in the Union government have been quoted saying that the selection committee members had asked who VOC was, “if he was a businessman?” Among the other figures in the rejected float was queen Velu Nachiyar, who also fought the British in battle. It was reported on Wednesday that the selection committee had allegedly asked for the horse ridden by Nachiyar to be made brown from the design’s white, because she would be confused with Jansi Rani, who was born after Velu Nachiyar.

The rejected float, the Tamil Nadu government has announced, will be shown instead at the Republic Day celebrations that will be held at Kamaraj Salai, Chennai. 

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