Vengalil Krishnan

Vengalil Krishnan

Krishna Menon, Vengalil Krishnan, 1897-1974, Indian diplomat. He was educated at the Presidency College and the Law College of Madras (now Chennai) and at the London School of Economics and University College, London. During his long stay (1924-47) in England he joined the Labour party, was admitted (1934) to the English bar, and served (1934-47) as borough councilor of St. Pancras, London. As secretary (1929-47) of the India League and also as a journalist, he worked hard for Indian self-government and became closely associated with Jawaharlal Nehru. After Indian independence (1947), Krishna Menon served as high commissioner for India in Great Britain (1947-52) and as Indian delegate to the United Nations (1952-62), where he was an outspoken critic of the United States and a staunch supporter of mainland China. In 1957 he was appointed minister of defense, but in 1962, following the Chinese invasion of India's northern frontiers, he was severely criticized for India's lack of military preparedness and was relieved of office. In 1967 he lost his seat in the national legislature, where he had served since 1953, but he was reelected in 1969.

See biography by T. J. S. George (1964); study by M. Brecher (1968).

Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon (3 May 1897 - 6 October 1974) was an Indian nationalist and politician.

Early life

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. 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 marxism, communism, 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.

Life & Activities in England

In London, Menon pursued further education at the London School of Economics and University College London, and at the same time he became a passionate proponent of India's freedom.

In England, he worked hard for Indian independence as a journalist and secretary (1929 - 1947) of the India League, and became associated with fellow Indian nationalist leader Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1934 he was admitted to the English bar, and after joining the Labour Party he was elected borough councillor of St. Pancras, London. St. Pancras later conferred on him the Freedom of the Borough, the only other person so honoured being Bernard Shaw. In 1932 he inspired a fact-finding delegation headed by Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson to visit India. Menon served as its Secretary and edited its report entitled 'Conditions In India'. During the thirties he founded with Allen Lane the Penguin and Pelican paper back books. He worked as an editor for Bodley Head, Penguin and Pelican Books, and the Twentieth Century Library.

High Commission 1947-52

After India gained independence in 1947, Menon was appointed high commissioner to the United Kingdom, a post in which he remained until 1952. Subsequently, he led the Indian delegation to the United Nations (1952 - 1962), where he adopted a policy of non-alignment, loudly criticizing the United States and voicing support for the People's Republic of China. On 23 January 1957 he delivered an unprecedented 8-hour speech defending India’s stand on Kashmir. To date, Krishna Menon’s speech is the longest ever delivered in the United Nations Security Council(UNSC).

Election to Parliament

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 was named minister of defence under Prime Minister Nehru. However, after India's staggering defeat in the Sino-Indian War of 1962, he resigned from office for the country's apparent lack of military preparedness. In 1967 he lost his parliamentary seat but was re-elected in 1969. He died on October 6, 1974 in New Delhi. During his tenure as the High commissioner to Britain, he was accused of being involved in a corruption scam involving the purchase of used military jeeps from Britain to supply to the Indian army during the war with Pakistan in 1948.

External links

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