TN To Honour Two Icons of Tamil Society

The Tamil Nadu Government will honor two icons, one who carved a niche in developing a Tamil intellectual tradition, Panditha Iyothee Thass, and another, a trail-blazer in India’s freedom struggle, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, popularly known as ‘Kappal Ottiya Tamizhan’, this year

Making a statement in the Assembly under Rule 110, Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin said on September 3, that the state will build a fitting memorial (Mani Mandapam) for Ayothidasar (1845-1914) at a suitable location in North Chennai to commemorate his 175th birth anniversary this year.

“Politics in Tamil Nadu is inconceivable without the two words- ‘Tamizhan’ and ‘Dravidam’. Iyothee Thass through his critical intellectual writings made these two words the defining identities of our politics,” Mr. Stalin said, paying rich tributes to the former’s unique contributions in shaping a Dravidian identity in modern times.

In 1891, Iyothee Thass started the ‘Dravida Mahajana Sabai’ and from 1907 ran a unique Tamil journal, ‘Oru Paisa Tamizhan’, recalled the Chief Minister. That later evolved into the journal ‘Tamizhan’. He described the collective identity of the Tamils as the ‘original casteless Dravidians’, which paved way for the twin foundational concepts, guiding the politics in Tamil Nadu even today, Mr. Stalin elaborated.

A writer, researcher and historian, Iyothee Thass was also a journalist, good public speaker and a man of medicine. Even Thanthai Periyar had acknowledged that Iyothee Thass was the forerunner to his propagation of rationalism and social reforms, pointed out Mr. Stalin. “Treat man as a human being” was his creed,

the Chief Minister said; the thoughts of Iyothee Thass, who described Buddha as “pure light” should continue to be useful to Tamil society, added Mr. Stalin.


Making another detailed statement in the Assembly on September 3, Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin unveiled a many-sided 14-point action plan to commemorate the stupendous contributions and sacrifices of the great barrister and freedom fighter from Tamil Nadu V.O. Chidambaram Pillai (Sept. 5, 1872 to Nov. 18, 1936), who pioneered the first Swadeshi Steam Navigation company in Tuticorin, now Thoothukudi, to mark VOC’s 150th birth anniversary this year.

As part of the year-long commemoration to the memory of VOC, who was jailed and tortured by the British-era police, Mr. Stalin announced a slew of measures and programs including installation of VOC’s bust at ‘Gandhi Mandapam’ complex in Chennai, where the cold-pressed oil mill VOC was made to yoke when he was in Coimbatore jail, is preserved.

Renaming of an arterial road in Thoothukudi as ‘Va.Vu. Chidambaranar Salai’, installation of a full-size statue of Chidambaranar at VOC park in Coimbatore, renovation of VOC’s house at Ottapidaram and his ‘Mani Mandapam’ in Tirunelveli, release of a digital film on the life and times of VOC to sensitize youth to his noble contributions, setting up of a new ‘Research Chair’ in the name of VOC at the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli, reprint of all the books of VOC in easy-to-read cheaper editions by the Tamil Nadu Text Book Society and upgrading facilities at the school in Tirunelveli where VOC and Bharathi studied, were among the other measures announced by Mr. Stalin.

The Chief Minister, to the thumping of desks by MLAs’, further announced that an annual award ‘Kappal Ottiya Tamizhan Va.Vu. Si Virudhu’, carrying a purse of Rs. Five lakh and a citation for anyone excelling in ship-building and related fields, will be instituted by the Tamil Nadu government as part of VOC’s 150th birth anniversary year celebrations. His death day, November 18, will be observed as ‘Martyrs Day’, Stalin added, among other programs.

Members of the Assembly, cutting across party lines, wholeheartedly welcomed the announcements made by the Chief Minister to commemorate the memories of both Panditha Iyotheedaasar and V.O. Chidambaram Pillai.