(1896 – 1967) – (Tamilnadu)
Vellalore Annaswamy Sundaram (Aged 71) was born on February 2, 1896, in Vellaloor village near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. Sundaram’s father’s name was Annasamy Iyer. He was an activist in the Indian Independence movement, associated with Mahatma Gandhi, a confidant of Madan Mohan Malaviya, and a fundraiser and secretary for the Benares Hindu University (BHU). His work focused on communication and public relations, with a particular emphasis on an international and intercultural perspective.
During his studies, Sundaram became interested in the ideas of the Indian Independence movement and attended a meeting of the Indian National Congress for the first time in December 1914 in Madras, becoming directly involved in the Indian Liberation Movement.
Based in Coimbatore and Madras, Sundaram began implementing Gandhi’s concept of village development, introducing weaving and spinning activities at Vellalore. Gandhi employed him as a regional worker for various activities in the South. Gandhi’s Circular letter of October 1919, calling for a nationwide hartal with reference to the Khilafat movement, was addressed to 28 of India’s leading Independence activists, among them Motilal and Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, C. F. Andrews, Rajendra Prasad, and V. A. Sundaram.
Sundaram built close and cordial relationships with leading Independence activists of Tamil Nadu, namely C. Rajagopalachari, C. Vijayaraghavachariar, and Sir Subramania Iyer. Under their guidance and with Gandhi’s support, he engaged in the cause of the Bengal internments of 1917, in the Vaikom Satyagraha of 1925, the Salt Satyagraha of 1930, and the civil disobedience campaigns of 1930 and 1931. He was arrested in Madras in early 1931, an incident that attracted considerable public attention and prompted Gandhi to send a note of protest to Viceroy Lord Irwin, as well as a press statement to Reuters.
His message of high ideals and fervent patriotism, typically presented in emotional and passionate language, made him a successful public speaker, and some of his later speeches were broadcast on All India Radio.
Prior to attending the second Round Table Conference in London, Gandhi decided to send Sundaram to Europe as an ambassador of his political message. Sponsored by the industrialist Jamnalal Bajaj, Sundaram left India in June 1931 for a 7-month journey through Europe. Sundaram described Gandhi’s Indian liberation movement messages to European leaders in countries such as Italy, Switzerland, the Vatican, Germany, France, England, and Czechoslovakia, and finally assisted Gandhi at the London Round Table Conference.
In 1916, Madan Mohan Malaviya, in his attempt to establish a new university in Varanasi, collected donations from all over the country, and Sundaram served as his interview assistant and secretary of the University Building Donation Board. After the founding of the Banaras Hindu University in 1926, he served as its secretary for thirty years, ending in 1956. He passed away on March 11, 1967, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.