V. O. Chidambaram Pillai - Political Life - Companies and Institutions

Companies and Institutions

Chidambaram established many institutions like Swadeshi Prachar Sabha, Dharmasanga Nesavu Salai, National Godown, Madras Agro-Industrial Society Ltd and Desabimana Sangam.

In response to the British India Steam Navigation Company's trade monopoly, Chidambaram started an Indian-owned shipping company. He registered the Swadeshi Shipping Company in October 1906. The capital of the company was ten lakh rupees. The number of shares was 40,000 and the face value of each share was Rs.25/-. Any Asian could become a share holder. The Director of the Company was Mr.Pandi Thurai Thevar, a Zamindar and the President of “Madurai Tamil Sangam”. Janab Haji Mohammed Bakir Seit paid Rs.2 lakh for 8000 shares, which was the first capital for the Company.

In the beginning, the Company didn’t own any ships, instead leasing them from Shawline Steamers Company. The B.I.S.N.C. pressured Shawline Steamers to cancel the lease; in response, Chidambaram leased a single large freighter from Sri Lanka. Realizing the need for the Swadeshi Shipping Company to own its own vessels, Chidambaram travelled around India selling shares in the company to raise capital. He vowed, “I will come back with Ships. Otherwise I will perish in the sea”. He managed to secure sufficient funds to purchase the company's first ship, the S.S. Galia; shortly afterwards they were able to acquire the S.S. Lavo from France.

In response to the new competition, the B.I.S.N.C reduced the fare per trip to Re.1 (16 annas) per head. Swadeshi company responded by offering a fare of Re.0.5 (8 Annas). The British company went further by offering a free trip to the passengers plus a free umbrella; however, nationalist sentiment meant that the free service was underused. The B.I.S.N.C. attempted to buy out Chidambaram, but he refused the deal.

The ships commenced regular service between Tuticorin and Colombo (Srilanka), against opposition from British traders and the Imperial Government.

Read more about this topic:  V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Political Life

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