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Swadeshi Steam

Swadeshi Steam

V.O. Chidambaram Pillai and the Battle against the British Maritime Empire

A.R. Venkatachalapathy
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In 1906, Britain’s grip on the world was unassailable. Its navy ruled the seas, and its trade empire spanned the globe. But in the small port town of Tuticorin, a lawyer named V.O. Chidambaram Pillai—known to the world as VOC—had a revolutionary idea that would challenge the might of the empire itself.

VOC’s plan was audacious: to launch the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, a venture that would compete head-on with the British India Steam Navigation Company, the shipping giant that controlled the region. To make his dream a reality, he rallied native traders and patriotic citizens, raising the capital needed to launch his daring enterprise. But the company faced a formidable foe: British mercantile interests and the imperial state both backed its competitor, giving it deep pockets and brazen government backing. VOC and his allies would have to defy overwhelming odds to make their venture a success.

Swadeshi Steam is a tale of heroism and defiance in the face of colonial oppression. Based on four decades of research in archives around the world, this inspiring saga showcases the power of one individual’s vision to ignite a movement.

Imprint: India Allen Lane

Published: Dec/2023

ISBN: 9780670099597

Length : 514 Pages

MRP : ₹999.00

Swadeshi Steam

V.O. Chidambaram Pillai and the Battle against the British Maritime Empire

A.R. Venkatachalapathy

In 1906, Britain’s grip on the world was unassailable. Its navy ruled the seas, and its trade empire spanned the globe. But in the small port town of Tuticorin, a lawyer named V.O. Chidambaram Pillai—known to the world as VOC—had a revolutionary idea that would challenge the might of the empire itself.

VOC’s plan was audacious: to launch the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, a venture that would compete head-on with the British India Steam Navigation Company, the shipping giant that controlled the region. To make his dream a reality, he rallied native traders and patriotic citizens, raising the capital needed to launch his daring enterprise. But the company faced a formidable foe: British mercantile interests and the imperial state both backed its competitor, giving it deep pockets and brazen government backing. VOC and his allies would have to defy overwhelming odds to make their venture a success.

Swadeshi Steam is a tale of heroism and defiance in the face of colonial oppression. Based on four decades of research in archives around the world, this inspiring saga showcases the power of one individual’s vision to ignite a movement.

Buying Options
Paperback / Hardback

A.R. Venkatachalapathy

A.R. Venkatachalapathy (1967) was born in Gudiyattam, in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu and was educated in Chennai and New Delhi. A historian and Tamil writer, he is a professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. Chalapathy has taught at universities in Tirunelveli, Chennai, Singapore and Chicago, and has held research assignments in Paris, Cambridge, London, and Harvard. He is the winner of the V.K.R.V. Rao Prize; Vilakku Virudhu and Iyal Virudhu (both for lifetime contribution to Tamil literature) and the Mahakavi Bharati Award. Chalapathy has published widely on the social, cultural and intellectual history of colonial Tamil Nadu. Apart from his writings in English, he has written or edited over thirty books in Tamil.

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