59 Facts About Krishna Menon


Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon was an Indian academic, politician, and non-career diplomat.

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Krishna Menon was described by some as the second most powerful man in India, after the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

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Krishna Menon wrote the first draft of the Preamble to the Constitution of India, initiated the idea of the Constituent Assembly of India and was the architect, and the person who coined the name, of the Non-Aligned Movement.

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Krishna Menon was chairman of the Indian delegation at the United Nations General Assembly from 1953 to 1962, at sessions of the United Nations Trusteeship Council from 1953 to 1956, and to the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament.

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Krishna Menon was a member of the Indian National Congress and at one time a member of the British Labour Party.

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Krishna Menon led the overseas wing of the Indian independence movement, launching the India League in London, aggressively campaigning within the United Kingdom to win public support for Indian independence, and rallying the support of world powers such as the Soviet Union.

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Krishna Menon headed India's diplomatic missions to the United Kingdom and the United Nations, and distinguished himself in diplomatic matters including the Suez crisis.

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In 1957, Menon had set the record for the longest speech before the U N Security Council while defending India's rights to the disputed territory of Kashmir, in the process earning widespread popularity and the sobriquet "Hero of Kashmir".

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Krishna Menon served as a minister without portfolio and later as Minister of Defence, overseeing the modernization of the Indian military and development of the Indian military-industrial infrastructure, and spearheading the Indian annexation of Goa.

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Krishna Menon resigned in the wake of the Sino-Indian War, following allegations of India's military unpreparedness, but remained counselor to Nehru, member of parliament and elder statesman until his death.

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Krishna Menon was born in an aristocratic Nair family at Thiruvangad Thalassery and later moved to Panniyankara in Kozhikode, Kerala, in the Vengalil family of Malabar.

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Komath Krishna Menon Kurup, Kottappally, Vatakara, the son of Orlathiri Udayavarma, Raja of Kadathanadu and Komath Sreedevi Kettilamma, was a wealthy and influential lawyer.

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Krishna Menon's mother was the granddaughter of Raman Menon who had been the Dewan of Travancore between 1815 and 1817, serving Gowri Parvati Bayi.

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Krishna Menon had his early education at the Zamorin's College, Kozhikode.

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Krishna Menon 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.

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Krishna Menon studied at London School of Economics and was awarded Bachelor of Science in economics and Master of Science in economics from University of London.

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Krishna Menon discussed the idea with a colleague at Bodley Head and Allen Lane jumped at it.

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Krishna Menon edited the titles published by Pelican Books which grew into respected British institution with great political and cultural influence.

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Krishna Menon resigned from the Labour Party in protest but rejoined in 1944.

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Krishna Menon worked assiduously to ensure that Nehru would succeed Mahatma Gandhi as the moral leader and executive of the Indian independence movement, and to clear the way for Nehru's eventual accession as the first Prime Minister of an independent India.

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From 1929 onwards Krishna Menon had been kept under surveillance, with a warrant to intercept his correspondence being issued in December 1933, identifying him as an "important worker in the Indian revolutionary movement".

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Clandestine surveillance intensified following Krishna Menon's 1946 meeting in Paris with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, and Indian independence.

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In 2007, hundreds of pages of MI5 files documenting their coverage of Krishna Menon were released, including transcripts of phone conversations and intercepted correspondences with other statesmen and Nehru himself.

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In 1949, Krishna Menon accepted the command of the Indian delegation to the United Nations, a position he would hold until 1962.

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Krishna Menon earned a reputation for brilliance in the UN, frequently engineering elegant solutions to complex international political issues, including a peace plan for Korea, a ceasefire in Indo-China, the deadlocked disarmament talks, and the French withdrawal from the UN over Algeria.

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Krishna Menon was particularly critical of the United States, and frequently expressed sympathies with Soviet policies, earning the ire of many Indians by voting against a UN resolution calling for the USSR to withdraw troops from Hungary, although he reversed his stance three weeks later under pressure from New Delhi.

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In 1955, Krishna Menon intervened in the case of several American airmen who had been held by China, meeting with Chinese premier Zhou En-Lai before flying to Washington to confer with and counsel American President Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, at the request of British Prime Minister Anthony Eden.

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Krishna Menon was a passionate opponent of nuclear weapons, and partnered with many in his quest against their proliferation.

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Krishna Menon's proposal was initially estimated by US diplomats to have more support than the Dulles plan, and was widely viewed as an attempt to hybridise the Dulles plan with Egypt's claims.

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Krishna Menon markedly softened his opposition in the final hours, leaving only Soviet Foreign Minister Dmitri Shepilov in absolute contraposition.

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On 23 January 1957 Krishna Menon delivered an unprecedented eight-hour speech defending India's stand on Kashmir.

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Between the two parts, Krishna Menon collapsed from exhaustion and had to be hospitalized.

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Krishna Menon became a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1953 from Madras.

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Krishna Menon was a substantially more powerful and high-profile figure than his predecessors, and brought with him a degree of governmental, public, and international attention that India's military had not previously known.

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In New York, Menon met US Ambassador and two-time presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson behind closed doors, before meeting with President John F Kennedy, who had expressed his reservations about Menon's anti-imperialism during the state visit of Jawaharlal Nehru.

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Krishna Menon lectured Kennedy on the importance of US-Soviet compromise, before returning to India.

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Krishna Menon's spearheading of the Indian annexation of Goa had subtle ramifications throughout Asia, as in the case of Indonesian president Sukarno, who refrained from invading the Portuguese colony of East Timor partially from fear of being compared to Krishna Menon.

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Krishna Menon was heavily criticised both inside and outside parliament for ineffectiveness and poorly handling of defence matters.

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Some suggest that aspiring to become a world leader, Krishna Menon undermined the intelligence reports dating back to 1955 about Chinese preparations to defend its land claim on disputed areas.

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Krishna Menon was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1953 from Madras which subsequently became a seat from Kerala following the States Reorganisation Act of 1956.

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In 1957, Krishna Menon sought a seat in the Lok Sabha, contesting a constituency from North Mumbai.

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Huge crowds surged forward, blocking the streets, while Krishna Menon was drowned by the surrounding uproar, his umbrella knocked away by the ceaseless bombardment of flowers and bouquets.

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Krishna Menon insisted, in spite of the heat of the day, the dust and the exhaustion, on fulfilling his programme.

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In October 1961, Krishna Menon, the sitting Defence Minister, was challenged by the 74-year-old Acharya Kripalani, a previous president of the Indian National Congress and close associate of the deceased Mohandas Gandhi.

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Ultimately, Krishna Menon won in a landslide, nearly doubling the vote total of Kripalani, and winning outright majorities in all six of North Mumbai's districts.

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Krishna Menon was denied a seat from Mumbai by the Congress on the grounds that he was a non-Maharashtrian.

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Krishna Menon was not offered a seat anywhere else in the country either.

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Krishna Menon resigned from the Congress and stood for elections as an independent candidate from the North East Mumbai constituency, of which he was the sitting member of parliament.

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Krishna Menon lost to the Congress candidate, Mr S G Barve, a retired ICS officer, by a margin of 13,169 votes.

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Krishna Menon again stood as an independent, and lost to Mrs Tara Sapre by a wider margin than had been the case with her brother.

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In 1969, Krishna Menon contested a seat in the Lok Sabha from the Bengal constituency of Midnapore, running as an independent in a by-election, and defeating his Congress rival by a margin of 106,767 votes in May of that year.

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In 1971, Krishna Menon contested as an independent candidate and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Trivandrum, in his home state of Kerala.

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Krishna Menon was an intensely controversial figure during his life, and has remained so even well after his death.

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Personally, Krishna Menon preferred to use London's double-decker buses whenever possible, underscoring the contrast between his public appearance as a statesman and his personal asceticism.

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Krishna Menon was widely reviled by Western statesmen who loathed his arrogance, outspokenness, and fiercely anti-Western stances.

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In private, Krishna Menon abstained from tobacco, alcohol and meat, often fasting for days, and forwent his luxury townhouse in Kensington Palace Gardens in favour of a single room in the Indian High Commission during his official tenure in London.

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Krishna Menon nonetheless dressed publicly in bespoke suits, earning him the epithet "Mephistopheles in a Savile Row suit".

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Krishna Menon died at the age of 78 on 6 October 1974, whereupon Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi remarked that "a volcano is extinct".

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Blue plaque commemorating Krishna Menon was placed at 30 Langdon Park Road, in Highgate, London by English Heritage in 2013.

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