Krishna Menon Krishna Vengalil (1897 - 1974) MP

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Nicknames: "V.K.K.Menon"
Birthplace: Panniankara (Calicut), India, Malabar, India
Death: Died in New Delhi, India, India
Occupation: Bar-at-Law, Defence Minister of the Union of India
Managed by: Anilkumar Nair Puthalath
Last Updated:

About Krishna Menon Krishna Vengalil

Menon was born at Panniyankara in Calicut, Kerala, into the powerful Vengalil family of South India. He was the grandson of the Raja of Kartanad and the first son of a successful lawyer of the Calicut bar, Komath Krishna Kurup, one of Kerala's richest men at the time. His sister was married to the last Maharajah of Cochin. Menon had his early education in Tellicherry and he took his B. A. degree from Presidency College, Chennai.

While in college, he started taking an active interest in the communist movement. While studying in the Law College of Madras, he became involved in Theosophy and was actively associated with Annie Besant and the Home Rule Movement. He was a leading member of the 'Brothers of Service', founded by Annie Besant who spotted his gifts and helped him travel to England in 1924.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V.K._Krishna_Menon

V.K. Krishna Menon - Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon was born on May 3, 1896 at Panniyankara in Calicut, Kerala. The third son of a successful lawyer of the Calicut bar, Komath Krishna Kurup, Menon grew up in a modestly well-to-do family. Menon had his early education in Tellicherry. He took his B.A. degree from Madras Presidency College. While in College, he started taking an active interest in the national movement. While studying in the Madras Law College, he became actively associated with Annie Besant and the Home Rule Movement. He was a leading member of the 'Brothers of Service', founded by Annie Besant who spotted his gifts and sent him to England in 1924. In London, Menon bloomed into a passionate fighter for India's freedom. He founded the India League in 1928 and made it the nerve centre of nationalist propaganda and activity in England. The Labour Party was influenced considerably by Krishna Menon who became on of its very effective spokesmen. In 1934, he was elected as St. Pancras Borough Councilman on the Labour ticket. He was elected again and again till be became India's first High Commissioner in Britain. St. Pancras conferred on him the Freedom of the Borough, the only other person so honoured being Bernard Shaw. Krishna Menon became a barrister and took up cases of the poor.In 1932, he inspired a fact-finding delegation headed by Ellen Wilkinson, Labour M.P., to visit India. Menon served as its Secretary and edited its report entitled 'conditions in India'. In the thirties he also edited the Twentieth Century Library. The close freindship between Nehru realised the significance of the battle which Krishna Menon carried on in England and the tole played by him in bringing about the peaceful transfer of power. From 1952 to 1953 and from 1954 to 1962 Krishna Menon led the Indian delegation to the United Nations. In evolving the policy of non-alignment he played a very important role. He made diplomacy a dynamic instrument for world peace, socialism and national liberation. He took an active role in resolving the Korean and Suez crises. Krishna Menon became a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1953. On February 3, 1956, he joined the Union Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio. In 1957 he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bombay and in April of that year, he became Defence Minister. He worked tirelessly to modernise the defence forces and initiated a number if measures of far-reaching significance. Krishna Menon resigned from the Cabinet in 1962, soon after the border-conflict with China. But he continued his activities on the national and international planes. He passed away on October 6, 1974. (http://www.economicexpert.com/2a/Kerala.htm)

There is a tendency in our country to be so inward-looking as to forget altogether the contribution which the India League and Krishna made towards the cause of our country's freedom. We say that this struggle for Indian Independence was fought and won by India. Undoubtedly, it was fought and won in India; but Indian Independence was a product of negotiations and not of a revolutionary upheaval. It was a product of negotiations between the British on the one side and Indian nationalism on the other. More specifically, it was a result of negotiations between the British Labour Government and the Indian National Congress. Krishna's dedicated work through India League prepared the British Labour movement to accept Indian Independence; his work prepared intellectual opinion in Britain in favour of Indian Independence. He got the trade union movement to get committed to Indian Independence.'

-- P. N. Haksar, in Krishna: As I knew him', Broadcast, All India Radio, 6th October 1974.

As Minister for Defence, Krishna Menon brought to bear his great knowledge to strengthen national self reliance. Krishna Menon was to so modernise and indigenise our preparations for defence as to bring them on par with the best anywhere. After a decade of relative inaction, our defence industry acquired, under Menon, direction as well as momentum. Krishna Menon was the first to acknowledge that the defence production base, in the ultimate analysis, could not be divorced from the economic and industrial infrastructure of the country. Thanks to his great foresight and vision, we have now established the necessary infrastructure and expertise in various areas of interest.'

-- R. Venkataraman, Minister of Defence for India, 1980-1984 (quoted in A political paradigm' by V. R. Krishna Iyer).

India has been fortunate to have had not only a glorious heritage of culture and civilisation but a succession of great men from the Buddha to Gandhi, from Ashoka to Nehru, from Kautilya to Krishna Menon.'

-- K. R. Narayanan, speaking in Bombay at a memorial lecture, 1984 (quoted in A political paradigm' by V. R. Krishna Iyer).

He was undoubtedly the ablest Defence Minister the army ever had-- we owe him a tremendous debt, because but for him we would not have had a defence industry. He had vision and enormous drive. He could get things done. But his manner of doing things was what antagonised the army. Because we are an organisation where respect, honour, and tradition holds a great deal of importance. And we have to command people and we can't do it if someone denigrates you.'

-- Lt. Gen. K. P. Candeth (quoted in V. K. Krishna Menon: A Personal Memoir', 1997, p. 138, by Janaki Ram).

Late in 1956, [Krishna Menon] was in Madras... when Janaki Amma [his sister] who also happened to be visiting mentioned that some property adjoining one of the family properties was up for sale. Krishna immediately said that she should buy it up and annex it to the family's Kuttiyadi estate. Janaki Amma however said that it was likely that the Communists might come to power-- as indeed they did in Kerala in 1957-- in which case large estates were very likely to be nationalised. Heavens no', responded Krishna, People like us will have to run away if they did.' Later some of his apprehensions were proved correct when in 1970 the ruling Communist Ministry brought in sweeping land reforms as a politically expedient measure that pauperised an entire class and enriched none, for land was fragmented into economically unviable patches. Krishna Menon's views were that land reforms such as those introduced in Kerala had not worked earlier in Egypt and were not likely to in Kerala either."

-- Janaki Ram, in V. K. Krishna Menon: A Personal Memoir', 1997, pp. 63-64.

"Menon was critical of the representative of Untouchables at the Round table Conference, Ambedkar... He writes: That representative demanded "separate electorates" which means that the Untouchables would have formed a group by themselves sending their members to the legislatures without any mixing up with the rest of the Indian people... The cure for untouchability is political and economic equality and that is what the Congress and Mr. Gandhi are aiming at.' Reservation was entirely self-defeating in its purpose, according to Menon. He felt that every effort should be made to prevent caste-based discrimination, by means of stringent laws if necessary. He did not believe that reservation would achieve anything but perpetuation of an evil system, that segregated people and served increasingly as a tool for political manipulations. Menon was once approached by an applicant... [He] told him that he belonged to a backward class. Menon's answer was typical: Well, if you yourself think of yourself as backward, why should you expect me to recommend a backward fellow?' Menon introduced Mulk Raj Anand to Gandhi in a letter dated 21st June 1933: Dr. Anand is one of our brilliant young men... I feel he has in his own way endeavoured to interpret the spirit of India and to give it to the world with integrity and individuality. He proposes to write a book on the Untouchables very soon and I feel certain that no one can write about the Harijans adequately without coming into contact with you.'"

-- Janaki Ram, in V. K. Krishna Menon: A Personal Memoir', 1997, pp. 75-76.

Krishna Menon's relationship with Indira Gandhi remained cordial, but he saw her as the young girl he had first met, and treated her as such. She sought his advice but, as T. N. Kaul the eminent diplomat recalls, did not always heed it. Menon could accept this from Pandit Nehru, but was more than a little annoyed when Mrs. Gandhi did the same thing. Indira Gandhi had to endure one of his furious lectures, when India tested her first nuclear device. Menon did not approve and did not wait to be asked his opinion about it! Mrs. Gandhi was informed of it in no uncertain terms! On her part, the Prime Minister was kind, very considerate and understanding of Menon.'

-- Janaki Ram, in V. K. Krishna Menon: A Personal Memoir', 1997, pp. 137-138.

It is not because of humility or of an inferiority complex that I avoid the subject [of friendship with Panditji from the early 1930s onwards]. The whole question is too large for me to understand it. As for speaking about nuances of a relationship of a personal nature, ... it cannot rise above my own ideas of loyalty in personal relations. I don't discuss these matters with anybody. You may say that the world is poorer for my silence; I cannot help it. I think I should keep quiet.

Panditji was not a superman; he was not a god or anything like that; he was a human-being like all of us and very much of a full-blooded individual. He was impulsive; he came into Government very much an amateur... Though I have been close to him in many ways, I have lived abroad for many years. I think that the wisest thing for me to do is to keep my mouth shut. That is how I feel. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful, but what can I do?

I do not think Panditji's affection for me or my relationship with Panditji affected him in the way you imply. I was neither a buffoon nor a Rasputin. I understood his mind, or rather he thought I did, even if this may not have been the case. I do not believe in what is called autobiography; that is what it really comes to. Autobiographies tend to portray the world in a distorted way; you think you made everything because that is all you know! It really seems to me somewhat inappropriate that I should speak about my relations with Panditji.

If you go round the Prime Minister's house you won't see any photographs of mine over there; if you look at his Bunch of Old Letters' you won't see any letters of mine there. He made very few public references to me. That was how our relationship was. Even when I resigned, in explaining it to Parliament Panditji did not discuss any personal aspect of the matter. I am not resenting it; that was the type of relationship we had. With me being the kind of person I am it does not lend itself to the kind of treatment you suggest. I can't explain it myself and I don't want to. If I did, you would only get a distorted picture of it."

-- V. K. Krishna Menon, in Michael Brecher, India and World Politics: Krishna Menon's View of the World', 1968, pp. 289-290

It is not because of humility or of an inferiority complex that I avoid the subject [of friendship with Panditji from the early 1930s onwards]. The whole question is too large for me to understand it. As for speaking about nuances of a relationship of a personal nature, ... it cannot rise above my own ideas of loyalty in personal relations. I don't discuss these matters with anybody. You may say that the world is poorer for my silence; I cannot help it. I think I should keep quiet.

Panditji was not a superman; he was not a god or anything like that; he was a human-being like all of us and very much of a full-blooded individual. He was impulsive; he came into Government very much an amateur... Though I have been close to him in many ways, I have lived abroad for many years. I think that the wisest thing for me to do is to keep my mouth shut. That is how I feel. I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful, but what can I do?

I do not think Panditji's affection for me or my relationship with Panditji affected him in the way you imply. I was neither a buffoon nor a Rasputin. I understood his mind, or rather he thought I did, even if this may not have been the case. I do not believe in what is called autobiography; that is what it really comes to. Autobiographies tend to portray the world in a distorted way; you think you made everything because that is all you know! It really seems to me somewhat inappropriate that I should speak about my relations with Panditji.

If you go round the Prime Minister's house you won't see any photographs of mine over there; if you look at his Bunch of Old Letters' you won't see any letters of mine there. He made very few public references to me. That was how our relationship was. Even when I resigned, in explaining it to Parliament Panditji did not discuss any personal aspect of the matter. I am not resenting it; that was the type of relationship we had. With me being the kind of person I am it does not lend itself to the kind of treatment you suggest. I can't explain it myself and I don't want to. If I did, you would only get a distorted picture of it."

-- V. K. Krishna Menon, in Michael Brecher, India and World Politics: Krishna Menon's View of the World', 1968, pp. 289-290 -------------------- V K Krishna Menon: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s (the 1st Prime Minister of India) following comments will give a vivid picture of Menon’s personality. "Krishna Menon is by far the ablest and most outstanding figure in the United Nations. In carrying out India's policy, he comes into conflict with some policies of other countries and, because of his great ability; he creates an impression in the United Nations. There are some people in this country, and some people in other countries too, whose job in life appears to be to run down Mr. Krishna Menon, because he is cleverer than these people, and because his record of service for Indian freedom is far longer than theirs, and because he has worn himself out in the service of India.” This quote of Nehru epitomizes Krishna Menon. Birth of V K Krishna Menon: V K Krishna Menon was born on 3rd May 1896 in the place called Panniyankara in Kozhikode (then Calicut) in the erstwhile Malabar District. His father was a famous advocate known as Vakil [Adv] Komath Krishna Kurup, S/o the Vorllathiri Udya Varma Raja of Kadathanad and Smt. Komath Sreedevi Kettilamma of Komath tharavad Ayanchery ,Vatakara. Krishna Menon's mother Vengalil Lakshmi Kutty Amma was the granddaughter of Raman Menon who was the Dewan Travancore. His family was very rich.

Krishna Menon’s Education: Krishna Menon was Scholar having taken several degrees in several branches of knowledge. He did his Schooling in Tellicherry and Calicut. After that he did BA in Madras and took up study for Law at Madras but did not complete. He went to London for further studies. He has completed B. A., B. Sc., M. A., M. Sc., Bar at Law. He completed his PhD from Glasgow. He has taken several other diplomas and degrees from London. Menon as Freedom Fighter: During his studies at Madras he was an active participant of Home Rule Movement, and 'Brothers of Service 'Movement’ and Theosophical Society of Dr Annie Besant. These movements were the forerunners of the independent agitations of the Indian National Congress. Later he stopped his studies and got involved in the Social Service League movement in the then Malabar. Ind London while doing his studies (1924-47), he joined the Labour Party, one of the 2 major political parties in England and became close to the Chairman of the party at that time, Mr Harold J. Laski. He utilized this position to persuade the major political party, the Labour Party to reconcile to the position of India’s independence. He could even arrange to send to India a parliamentary fact finding delegation consisting of Monica Whately MP, Ellen Wilkinson MP, Leonard W. Matters MP, and V. K. Krishna Menon, India League. He used to address street corner meetings of public explaining the independence movement of India to elicit the public sympathy for India’s independence agitation. He formed the India League, London to co-ordinate the Indian people there. This platform he used to propagate the independence movement of India in London. During this time he came in contact with Nehru and from that time they became close friends. Krishna Menon as a Diplomat: Immediately on independence, he was appointed as the High Commissioner (1947 to 1952) of India to England based at London. He was coordinating the affairs connected with the transfer of power from the British Government to Indian Government on independence. Since he was having close contact with many top personalities of the Government, the transition was easier and smooth. In 1952 he was sent as deputy leader of the delegation to the United Nations, New York [Leader: Vijayalakshmi Pandit] and in 1953 he became Leader of the Delegation to the United Nations, New York. At that time the major issue for India was the Kashmir Issue with Pakistan. Menon presented India’s case most effectively in UN by making the longest speech (8 hours) ever made in UN by anybody till today. During this period Menon was working on behalf of Nehru who was also the Foreign Affairs minister, and was functioning virtually as the foreign affairs minister. He worked for the close co-operation of Afro-Asian nations on the principle of non-alignment. That is, not to align with the then existing 2 camps led by USA and USSR respectively. The non alignment principle became so effective that most of the nations of Africa and Asia became members and many European countries supported it. This policy was effective in not getting involved in the cold war going on between the 2 camps and keeps a neutral policy with supporting the right cause, irrespective of the camp. As a prelude to this movement the Bandung Conference from 18th to 24th of April 1955 in Indonesia was held with the participation of India with Indonesia, Ceylon, Pakistan and Burma consisting nearly 25% of the earth's total surface. The main architects of non alignment were Nehru and Menon of India. Menon’s work during this time for the cause of the Afro Latin American nations was commendable and appreciated by those nations very much. Our China was becoming a major 3rd force in addition to the American and Russian Camps. As a neighboring country, India was developing close relations with China. Towards fostering the close relation with China the Panchasheel principle was followed between India and China. This was the time of the slogan “India China – Bhai –Bhai. V K Krishna Menon as Minister: In 1957 Nehru inducted Menon into his Cabinet as a Minister without portfolio. After his election from North Bombay, he was appointed Defence Minister. V K K initiated several measures to restructure the defence services. Till now there was one person the head of Army who was controlling the entire defence force. Mr Menon separated the power of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Further he devised the regional concepts and the 3 heads with the regional heads became the policy decision makers of the defence system thereby making it impossible for a military coup as was happening in the neighboring countries.

Side by side Krishna Menon took steps to make the Indian Defence Force Self Reliant. He established the Sainik Schools to train the defence personnel. He established the Armed forces medical college to train Doctors to take care of the needs of the defence personnel. He established the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop the defence equipments. He established the Public Sector defence factories like the Ordnance factory, Heavy Vehicles factory of Avadi, Bharat electronics, HAL at Bangalore and Kanpur etc, Things were not smooth for Menon both in the country and outside. He was very close to Nehru. Nehru had his enemies within the Congress party and outside. Since Menon was close to Nehru and these people were trying to create hurdles for Menon in his discharge of duties as they had no courage to openly fight against Nehru. Besides these people can stand nowhere near to Menon on the level of intellect, logic and factually, so they used to hate him. Menon was also treating with scorn which further alienated them from him. He was the main person behind the Goa annexation in 1961. In 1962 the China waged war against India on the Northern Border. Because of the unpreparedness due to the close relation with China, India lost the war. His Enemies in the country got a chance to bait him. He resigned from the Government owning the moral responsibility. That is the end of brilliant career of V K Krishna Menon.

Menon’s Election Experiences: His first contest was for the Borough Councilor, of Ward 4, St. Pancras of London Municipality in 1934 and won the election. Next was to the Rajya Sabha Member post from Madras State in 1953. Contested to the Lok Sabha from North Bombay in 1957 and won. Again in 1962 he contested from the same constituency against the Acharya Kripalani and won with a margin of 1,45,000. The Siva Sena was founded around this time in Bombay mainly to oppose Menon with the hidden support of S K Patil boss of Bombay Congress. The Bombay Congress Committee denied ticket to him for the reason that he was not Maharashtrian. Menon’s enemies became more powerful due to the defeat in China war. He contested from the same constituency 2 more times as independent and lost with margin of around 14,000 votes. !969 he won from Midnapore of West Bengal with the support of Left front and finally in 1971 from Thiruvananthapuram with LDF support.

Recognitions to Menon’s Services:

Freeman of the Borough – 1955 awarded by British Government. A statue of Krishna Menon was erected twice in London. Both the times the same were stolen. Road by name Krishna Menon marg in Delhi. Establishment of Krishna Menon foundation award for best diplomat of India. Padma Vibhushan by Government of India. Demise V K Krishna Menon died on 6 October 1974 in the G B Pant hospital, New Delhi.

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V.K.Krishna Menon's Timeline

1897
May 3, 1897
Panniankara (Calicut), India, Malabar, India
1909
1909
- 1910
Age 11
Thalassery, Kannur, Kerala, India
1909
Age 11
Telicherry, Kerala, India
1910
1910
- 1912
Age 12
Calicut, Malabar District, Madras Province, India
1912
1912
- 1915
Age 14
Calicut (Malabar Dist), India, Madras Presidency
1915
1915
- 1918
Age 17
Madras, India, Madras Presidency
1918
1918
- 1920
Age 20

He was active in Anne Besant; Home Rule League; Theosophical Society

1920
1920
- 1923
Age 22
1924
1924
- 1925
Age 26
1925
1925
- 1927
Age 27