|Born||September 15, 1891
|Died||May 26, 1934
|Organization||Berlin Committee, Provisional Government of India|
|Political movement||Indian Independence movement, Indo-German Conspiracy|
Chempakaraman Pillai, also Champakaraman Pillai and Cemapakaraman Pilla (Malayalam: ചെമ്പകരാമന് പിള്ള, Tamil: செண்பகராமன் பிள்ளை) (September 15, 1891 – May 26, 1934) was an Indian revolutionary during the Anti-British Movements in India, who went abroad to organize an army to declare war against the British to establish self-rule in the Indian subcontinent.
Early life 
Pillai was born of Tamil stock in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), capital of the erstwhile "native" State of Travancore in southernmost India. His father Chinnaswami Pillai, who was a police head constable in Travancore State Government Service, and mother Nagammal lived in Thiruvananthapuram. Pillai had his primary and high school education in the Model School, Thycaud, Thiruvananthapuram city. As a schoolboy he happened to meet British biologist Sir Walter Strickland, who visited Thiruvananthapuram in search of botanical specimens. He and another boy, his cousin Padmanabha Pillai became close friends of Strickland, who on his return voyage took the two boys with him, but the cousin ran away at Colombo and returned to Thiruvananthapuram. Pillai, then fifteen years old continued the journey with Strickland and landed in Europe, and Strickland got him admitted to a school in Austria to complete his high school education.
In Europe 
Pillai later joined a technical institute and took a diploma in engineering. On the outbreak of the First World War, Pillai formed the International Pro-India Committee with headquarters in Zurich in September 1914 and himself as its president.
Around this time the Indian Independence Committee was formed in Berlin by a group of Indian expatriates in Germany, with Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, eldest brother of Sarojini Naidu, Indian National Congress leader under Mahatma Gandhi and a well-known poet in English as its president, and including Bhupendranath Dutta (brother of Swami Vivekananda, Punnackal A. Raman Pillai. a student in the University of Göttingen, Taraknath Das, Barkatullah, Chandrakant Chakravarty, M. Prabhakar, Birendra Sarkar, and Herambalal Gupta.
In October 1914 Pillai moved to Berlin and joined the Berlin Committee, merging his International Pro-India Committee into it as the guiding and controlling institution for all Pro-Indian revolutionary activities in Europe.Lala Har Dayal was also persuaded to join the movement. Soon branches sprang up in Amsterdam, Stockholm, Washington, and in many other parts of Europe and America.
War activities 
He was the first to raise "Jai Hind" slogan; later joined with INC chief Subash Chandra Bose.
The Indian Independence Committee ultimately became involved in the so-called Hindu-German Conspiracy along with the Ghadar Party in the United States of America. The German Foreign Office under Kaiser Wilhelm II paid for the anti-British activities of the Committee. Chempakaraman Pillai and A. Raman Pillai, both belonging to Travancore, and both students in German universities carried on correspondence with each other on the Committee's activities.
Quite a few of Chempakaraman's letters to A. Raman Pillai, then a student in the University of Göttingen are in the safe custody of Raman Pillai's son Rosscote Krishna Pillai, an author, science writer, media person, and social activist in Thiruvananthapuram. The letters reveal some aspects of Chempakaraman's life in Germany during 1914-1920. In July 1914, Chempakaraman Pillai from Berlin called upon Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army to rise in revolt and fight against the British.
After the end of World War I and Germany's defeat, Chempakaraman stayed in Germany, working as a technician in a factory in Berlin; when Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited Vienna, Chempakaraman met him and explained his plan of action to him.
Foreign Minister of Provisional Government of India 
Pillai had the privilege of being the foreign minister of the Provisional Government of India set up in Kabul, Afghanistan on December 1, 1915, with Raja Mahendra Pratap of Kabul as President, and Maulana Barkatulla as Prime Minister. Sadly, the defeat of the Germans in the war shattered the hopes of the revolutionaries, and the British forced them out of Afghanistan in 1919.
All along, the Germans were helping the Indian revolutionaries for selfish motives. Though the Indian patriots made it clear to the Germans that they were equal partners in their fight against the common enemy of British imperialism, and what was expected of them was help by way of funds, arms, and ammunition, the Germans wanted to exploit the revolutionaries for their propaganda work and for gathering military intelligence.
When they started losing the battle, the Germans lost their interest in the revolutionaries and even started looking upon many with suspicion. This strained the relationship between the Indian revolutionaries and the Germans. Pillai raised his voice against the view of Adolf Hitler that Indians were still incapable of ruling themselves, forcing Hitler to apologize in writing while falling victim to the wrath of the Nazis. In 1931 Pillai married Lakshmibai of Manipur, whom he met in Berlin. It is reported that the Nazis under orders of Adolf Hitler killed Chempakaraman by food poisoning on May 26, 1934.
His last wish 
Pillai's last wish was that his ashes be carried to his homeland, and his wife fulfilled this 33 years after his death. She underwent indescribable sufferings and hardships during this period, and the Nazis made her life miserable, but she patiently endured it to fulfill her mission of preserving his ashes, his diary, and secret documents, living in Berlin, Italy, and Spain, and later reaching Mumbai. The Indian Navy warship I.N.S. Delhi flying the flag of Free India brought Pillai's ashes to Cochin on September 16, 1966.
- Malayala Manorama Yearbook 2009 (Tamil) pp 301
- Asghar Ali Engineer (2006). They Too Fought for India's Freedom. Hope India Publications. ISBN 81-7871-091-9.