Asianet NewsableAsianet Newsable

India@75: Barrister GP Pillai, most prominent Indian editor of the 19th century

In Chennai, Pillai became the editor of the Madras Standard, South India’s first English language newspaper. The paper became the mouthpiece of the anti-Brahmin movement. 

Aug 5, 2022, 1:16 PM IST

He was exiled at the age of 18 for writing articles against the royal government. He was the father of Thiruvithamkoor’s modern democratic movement. One of the most prominent Indian editors of the 19th century. Pioneer of Indian English writing. Gandhi’s advisor. 

Also read: India@75: Ashfaqulla Khan, the youngster who fought against British rule

Govindan Parameswaran Pillai, or Barrister G P Pillai, was born in Thiruvananthapuram in 1864. While he was a college student, Pillai wrote fiery articles against the royal government of Thiruvithamkoor and its Dewan in newspapers. This angered the Dewan Vembaukum Ramiengar and had Pillai expelled from the college. This forced him to leave Thiruvithamoor and move to Chennai to further his studies at the Madras Presidency College. 

In Chennai, Pillai became the editor of the Madras Standard, South India’s first English language newspaper. The paper became the mouthpiece of the anti-Brahmin movement. 

Also watch: India@75: Gangadharrao Balakrishna Deshpande, the Lion of Karnataka

Pillai was one of the architects of the Malayali Memorial of 1891, which marked the beginning of Thiruvithamkoor’s modern political disguise movement. The Memorial, also said to have launched the public sphere in Thiruvithamkoore, was a memorandum signed by more than 10,000 people protesting against the monopoly of the non-Malayali Brahmins in the government service. 

Pillai was deputed by Swami Vivekanada and also Dr Palpu to London to organise a campaign in the British Parliament against the disabilities faced by backward castes of Thiruvithamkoor. Gandhi mentioned in his autobiography that Pillai had provided him with great support during his political activities in South Africa.  

Also watch: India@75: Story of the Sanyasi-Fakir revolt

Pillai became a Barrister after graduating from the Middle Temple in London in 1898. His books included Representative Indians, Indian Congressmen, London and Paris, Travancore for Travancoreans and so on. Pillai passed away at the age of 39,  a year after he started to practise in the courts of Thiruvananthapuram.

Must See