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V. Subbiah

(1911 – 1993) – (Puducherry)

Varadarajulu Kailasa Subbiah (Aged 82) an Indian communist politician from Pondicherry, was born on 7 February 1911. He is known for being the secretary of the Communist Party of French India and regarded as the founder of the trade union movement in the union territory. Subbiah was also one of the ‘Tamrapatra awardees’, awarded the decoration for their role in the Indian freedom struggle.\

In 1935, Subbiah organized a union of thousands of textile workers in Pondicherry. However, in July 1936, French police opened fire on demonstrators, killing twelve textile workers, in a bid to quell the agitation of the union. The killings caused an uproar and prompted Nehru to ask Subbiah to travel to Paris to negotiate directly with the French government. Subbiah did so and was able to reach an agreement guaranteeing an 8-hour workday for workers in French India.

After the integration of Pondicherry with the Indian Union, V. Subbiah became the leader of the Opposition in 1954 and 1963. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Pondicherry from 1964 to 1969 for the Communist Party of India. In the coalition cabinet that governed the union territory from 1969 to 1973, he served as Minister of Agriculture. Subbiah’s wife, Saraswathi Subbiah, also served as a legislator of the Communist Party of India in the 1960s. He passed away on 12 October 1993.