VNK was essentially a destiny’s child and lived life as it came. He was already into active politics during his college days. After completing BA from HH The Maharaja’s College, he started working as the Travancore State representative of The Empire of India Life Assurance Company. But, in 1937, he lost the job due to the hostile action taken by the then Diwan of Travancore, Sir C P Ramaswami Iyer, against the company. He then sailed out to Malaya (now Malayasia) in November 1939, when World War II was raging in Europe. He was married just four days before he sailed to Penang. He failed to get a job in Malaya but secured a teacher’s post in a Chinese school in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo. But the Japanese occupation of Borneo in December 1940 suddenly threw him out of job. And, in March 1941, he organised the Indian Independence League of Borneo. He never looked back and was into the movement the whole hog till the end of the World War II in 1945.
It was a bitter struggle for Indians seeking freedom from bondage under the British rule. Those who were more passionate about freedom took to the path of guns and bombs while the passive ones opted to disobey the imperialist forces.
Rash Behari Bose and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose belonged to that genre who believed in force to defeat force and lived dangerously. The World Wars gave Indian revolutionaries a break away from Mahatma Gandhi’s soft struggle.
Travelling from Madras Port to Penang in Malaya in search of a job in November 1939, V N K Pillai never thought he would be joining the revolutionaries in the freedom struggle in another land. But, when World War II erupted, and British lost Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese, things changed for the Indians in East and Southeast Asia. The choice for Indians there was to either go with the Japanese or face persecution.
General Mohan Singh and Rash Behari Bose led the path by organising the Indian National Army from among British Indian soldiers and created history.