V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, popularly known as V.O.C, Kappal Ottiya Thamizhan and Va Voo Cee was born on September 5, 1872 at Ottapidaram, Thoothukudi, District, British India. He died on November 18, 1936. This Tamil political leader was member of the Indian National Congress and also the Indian Independence Movement. This disciple of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, launched the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Colombo and Tuticorin with the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company to compete with ships of the British. The British government charged him with sedition later and was he was sentenced for imprisonment for life. His barrister license was also revoked.
As the first Tamilian he gave the British Company tough competition when the East India Company came for business to India. To help poor people he operated his two ships on concession basis, a challenge for the British. However later due to over credits his company became insolvent. During the period 1890-1900 he became an active worker in the Swadeshi Movement initiated by Lala Lajpatrai and Gangadhar Tilak. The British always feared him for his intelligence as trader, his bravery and nationalistic spirit. Chidambaram established a number of institutions like National Godown, Swadeshi Prachar Sabha, Desabimana Sangam and Madras Agro-Industrial Society Ltd.