Chempakaraman Pillai, also known as Venkidi, was a political activist and revolutionary from India who passed away on May 26, 1934, in Berlin, Nazi Germany. And, in 2023, this date marks his death anniversary. On this day, take a moment to remember him and his contributions, struggles, and sacrifices for an Independent India.
All you need to know about Chempakraman Pillai:
Born on September 15, 1891, in Trivandrum, his father was a police constable and his family hailed from the Kanyakumari district.
Became active in India’s freedom struggle at the age of 14 when the Partition of Bengal happened in 1905 and joined Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Chempakraman Pillai is credited with coining the popular saying ‘Jai Hind’.
He escaped to Germany in 1908 with the aid of his friend Sir Walter Williams Strickland after the British police attempted to detain him for his revolutionary remarks against the Travancore State government.
While studying engineering at ETH Zürich from 1910 to 1914, to rally the German people behind India's liberation cause, he established the International Pro-Indian Committee.
Many revolutionary Indian figures, including Hardayal, Raja Mahendra Pratap, Dr. Prabhakar, and A. C. Nambiar was in contact with him when he was living in Germany. He also established a newspaper called Pro-India to generate support for the movement.
Pillai joined the German Navy during World War I as an officer on the cruiser SMS Emden where he engaged with British Navy ships near Madras and shelled several facilities on its harbour on September 22, 1914.
He also worked with prominent activists at the time like Mahatma Gandhi and A. Raman Pillai and served on their Indian Independence Committee.
Served as the Foreign Minister in the Provisional Government of India set up in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1915.
After World War I, he remained in Germany and met Subhas Chandra Bose while visiting Vienna in 1919.
Supposedly showed signs of slow poisoning and passed away in Berlin in on May 26, 1934 with his ashes being brought back by his wife Lakshmi Bai to his native place, Kanyakumari.
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