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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Teachers' Day ~ remembering the great VOC & others who shaped our life – 2019


Teachers' Day ~ remembering the great VOC  & others who shaped our life – 2019

Chennai Central aka  Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. MGR Central railway station is  a gateway to the metro city.  As you come out of the station, runs a long winding road named after a wall built as a protective measure by the British centuries ago ! ~ Walltax Road – do you know its present name ?

Do you remember the Names and can you recollect the faces of your teachers at your Elementary school and in Secondary school .... have you ever met any of them after coming out of school.  Can you recognise them and would you stop, spend time to pay reverence, if you are to have a chance meeting with them ? 

On Teachers Day ~ a photo of Hindu High School, Big Street, Triplicane – alumnis can observe both the buildings in this photo !

சுமார் 30 அல்லது 40  ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன் – பள்ளிகளில் ஆங்கிலபிரிவில் படித்தவர் குறைவு.   முந்தையகாலங்களில் 'ஆசிரியர் - மாணவர்'  உறவு அன்பான பந்தமாக இருந்தது.

Aristotle  was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he has been called the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government.  Guru Vandana means “Reverence for the Teacher” – it is the thanksgiving from a student to a teacher, expressing his or her gratitude.

இம்மை பயக்குமால் ஈயக் குறைவின்றால்  ** தம்மை விளக்குமால் தாமுளராக் கேடின்றால்
எம்மையுலகத்தும் யாம் காணோம் கல்விபோல்  **  மம்மர் அறுக்கும் மருந்து.

Education is the most important thing in life – it will give Worldly pleasures  and give pleasure to the world too; it will not diminish by giving; it will spread the fame of those possessing it; cannot be destroyed… there is no better medicine  than Education that can cure all ills.   Things were far different when we joined, studied and left … not these long queues, ordeal of admission, it was mostly of simple application filling and getting in – but when a seat is gotten with great difficulty, how many parents would visit the school, know the teacher of their son/daughter, ever interact with them. ….  Those days, the teacher was a learned, highly respected man – commanding wishes when he (or she) walked on the roads – and do you remember your favourite teacher ??   ~ Happy Teachers’ Day 2019.

“I am indebted to my father for living, but I am indebted to my teacher for living well,” Alexander, The Great, once said. While a good teacher does a fantastic job of educating their pupil in textbooks, a great teacher acts as an influential personality in one’s life.

For most of us the first inspiration is the School Teacher (to me it was my mother *) – the one who changed the lives of so many of us.  Today, 5th Sept  is the day to remember those great personalities who with such vigour provided us the most important thing in life the Education, the chance to learn.   On 5th Sept,  Teacher's Day is celebrated in India in honour of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was born on September 5, 1888. Dr Radhakrishnan was India's second president and a great scholar, philosopher and Bharat Ratna recipient. Since 1962, India has commemorated his birth anniversary by paying tribute to its hardworking - and admittedly under-appreciated - teachers and gurus.  


India was born in midnight ! ~ the freedom was not a day’s affair or that of a single man packing the rulers away !!it was a just fruit gotten by the sacrifices of very many leaders, many of whom perhaps the people of Nation have not recognised properly. The clamour to advertise that freedom was obtained without bloodshed sent to background many a great sacrifices.  ‘Kappalottiya Thamizhan’  released in 1961 is a great movie by many counts.  The film directed by B. R. Panthulu, having cast of Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan,  S. V. Subbaiah, T. K. Shanmugham, S. V. Ranga Rao, S. A. Ashokan – powerfully portrayed the freedom struggle down South.  The film based on the biography of V.O.Chidambaram Pillai written by Ma. Po. Si.(M.P.Sivagnanam) taught history to later generations.  

The film was about VOC (Valliappan Ulaganathan Chidambaram Pillai) – the great man, the advocate, who started shipping venture challenging the British on high seas – he suffered throughout his life and struggled.  VOC along with Subramanya Siva, another great patriot was summoned to Tirunelveli by the Collector  (shown as Winch in the film) – that meeting was also a great scene.  They were charged on sedition and sent to long years of imprisonment.  It was unthinkable suffering that broke their back but never their spirit.   Had it been properly documented, it would grind to dust any claims of gentleness and portray the barbarism of erstwhile British rulers.

Today, 5th Sept, should   rekindle the memories of another great patriot who underwent untold sufferings at the hands of British… more than a century ago, his speech at Thai Poosa Mantapam in the bed of river Thamirabarani at Tirunelveli [on the night of 9th  March 1907] sent shivers and he was convicted under sections 124A & 153A of Indian Penal Code by the Bench consisting of CA White & Miller. In that famous speech, he had thundered "As soon as the English people set foot in India, poverty also made its appearance in the country. So long as the foreign Government exists we shall not prosper. So long as we continue to be the servants and slaves of foreigners we shall have to endure hardships.

                             The Great man is - Vandanam Olaganathan Chidambaram Pillai ~ more famous as VOC or Kappolottiya thamizhan,  was born on 5th  Sept 1872. His father was an eminent lawyer Ulaganathan Pillai in Ottapidaram, Tuticorin Dist. Like his father, he also became an advocate and often pleaded for the poor. His exemplary fighting qualities made him establish the “Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company” during Nov 1906 by purchasing two steamships ‘S.S.Gaelia’ and ‘S.S.Lawoe’. This indeed is an exemplary act when somebody can imagine the stringent measures and imperialistic attitude of the Britishers who crushed any such activity by brutal force. By running ships, he challenged the monopoly enjoyed by the British India Steam Navigation Company, formed in 1856.

5th Sept marks his 149th   Birth day. I for one, am  not for celebrating birth days of those persons who are no more. Still, today  would remain a day worthy of remembering and recalling his commitment, strong will and sacrifice. The young generations of India should read his life as an example of resistance, strife, struggle, suffering and sacrifice.
 After that speech in Tirunelveli in  1908, VOC was arrested on charges of sedition. Mahakavi Bharathiyar and Subramanya Siva appeared in the Court in the case and VOC was sentenced to double life imprisonment tantamount to 40 years ad confined to prison. He was treated badly as a convict and subjected to inhuman torture.  The report of the sedition commission introduces “  Republican or Parliamentary forms of government, as at present understood, were neither desired nor known in India till after the establishment of British rule”.  Infamous words of the President of Sedition Committee who was later was viewed synonymous with cruelty - the Hon'ble Mr. Justice S. A. T. Rowlatt.  ~ and would you connect Veera Vanchinathan’s killing Collector Ashe to that speech !!

This is not to eulogise the killing but the martyrdom needs to be extolled. Inspired by the Surat Congress in Dec 1907 the man who pioneered shipping – VO Chidambaram Pillai organised political meetings in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli.  There were fiery speeches by Subramania Siva.  The Freedom struggle spread and on Feb 1908, around 1000 workers struck work in the Coral Mills of Tuticorin.  The collector Robert William Escourt Ashe had imposed restriction by Sec 144 and the union of workers was not to his liking.  When the patriotic leaders planned to celebrate release of Bipin Chanda Pal as Swarajya day – violence was unleashed by the Dist Admn.  VOC, Siva, Padmanabha Iyengar were arested in Mar 1908. There were riots in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli termed as incendiarism.    Perhaps all these made Ashe the target.  The downfall of the VOC’s Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company was also linked to Ashe.

Robert Ashe had been born in 1872 in Ireland.  In 1895, he arrived in India, where he began his career as an Assistant Collector and rose up to be District Magistrate and Collector.   In 1907 he had his posting in Tirunelveli.  For two months he officiated at Tuticorin during which period much occurred.   A few years later, on 17th June 1911 -  Ashe was travelling along with his wife Mary Lillian Patterson.  At 10.38 the train halted at small Maniyachi, a neatly dressed man with tufted hair alongwith another in a dhoti approached the carriage and shot Ashe on the chest from point blank range with a belgian made pistol.  The assailant ran towards the latrine and shot himself in the mouth.  He belonged to Bharatha Matha Association ~  Man  of unflinching courage was Vanchinathan. 

Sad to conclude : Upon release from prison by the British, VoC was not permitted to return to Tirunelveli, his bar license had been stripped, his Company had been liquidated and ships auctioned. VOC died on 18th Nov. 1936 in chill penury. One of his sons Arumugam Pillai contested from Ottapidaram in 1967 TN Assembly but lost. 

Paying tribute to teachers, here is a photo of felicitation of   teachers of   SYMA Tuition centre Growth, where every year we attempt to change to lives of more than100 poor children. …..

Wall Tax Road  was renamed after Kappal Ottiya Thamizhan (VO Chidambaram Pillai) and now VOC Salai, .. .. incidentally how can it be VOC - Valliappan Ulaganathan Chidambaram Pillai – should be VUC ?

With reverence to all my teachers who taught me and those teachers whom I know                   ~ S. Sampathkumar.
5th Sept. 2019.
1.                could be for many .. * my first teacher was always my amma who taught me so passionately giving practical and great examples
2.                My most favourite teacher in school  was Mrs Bhagavathi who taught at Samarao School in 5th standard – she had been  married recently at that time and travelled from Katpadi !!
3.                My school days morning was spent at 7 South Mada Street, learning Divya prabandham from guru Dr MA Venkatakrishnan swami
4.                Life shaping was the instructions received at Srinivasa Typewriting Institute from TW and Shorthand masters
5.                Insurance was learnt from many stalwarts including Sri : -  S Giridharan, M Vasanthakrishna, S Janarthanan, Easwara Narayan many advocates with whom I could interact, many many surveyors from whom practical lessons were learnt.
6.                Special thanks always to those teachers who have been doing wonderful service at our Educational centre – Syma Growth – where we offer free tuitions to 110 poor children (every year)  for the past 12 years’
~ many a times, life’s valuable lessons have been learnt from friends, colleagues and those who wanted to teach me a lesson (though I have never harmed them !)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sampath Thanks for your kind remembrance and kinder words which however I think I do not deserve.I am happy that you have excelled in your profssional both in Oriental and RSA/FG.But it is your religious and charitable pursuits that have set you apart from others.And your voracious reading and writing is simply amazing. I am sure that on this occasion of Teacher's Day innumerable youngsters whose careers you shaped will remember with great reverence. I shall always fondly cherish wonderful memories of our association over the years Regards Giridharan

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