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Krishna Menon was not a team man

opinionKrishna Menon was not a team man

He was endowed with a razor sharp mind, which he used and misused. He had a poor judgement.


If you wish to write a worthwhile biography, read Jairam Ramesh’s biography of V.K. Krishna Menon (1896-1974). A Chequered Brilliance. It is 725 pages long. It is an outstanding example of how to present the portrait of a very complex, untrustworthy, acerbic, first rate intellectual, inspired leader of the India League in Britain for over 20 years and to do so with masterly skill. Jairam has got Menon just right…warts and all. Yet, I believe Menon does not deserve a 725-page biography.

Krishna Menon was endowed with a razor sharp mind, which he used and misused. He had a poor judgement. He collected a group of second rate hangers-on in London and New Delhi.

He threw well-timed tantrums, was a near psychopath suffering from insomnia and depression. Several times he wrote to Nehru, his patron-in-chief, that he wished to commit suicide.

Jairam reveals why Nehru tolerated the erratic, almost juvenile, conduct of Krishna Menon, whose concept of truth was somewhat flexible.

Menon was not suited to be India’s High Commissioner to the UK (1947-52). But he did persuade Nehru that it was in India’s interest to remain in the Commonwealth. Nehru was initially not in favour of India being in that outfit—at the time a white men’s club.

During the 1930s, Menon introduced Nehru to leading British politicians and writers e.g., Attlee, Cripps, Bevan, Bertrand Russell, Harold Laski. He found a publisher for Nehru’s An Autobiography, which made the author better known in the UK, in particular and Europe in general.

For ten years, Menon was Nehru’s closest foreign policy advisor. Menon eclipsed the Ministry of External Affairs, thus demoralising it. At the UN he forcefully put across India’s point of view on Kashmir. He messed up our policy on Hungary at the Security Council in 1956. His nine-hour speech on Kashmir in the Security Council in 1956 got him world fame. In private, some UN delegates said, “If your case is so good, why nine hours?”

One of his memorable diplomatic successes was to persuade Premier Chou En Lai to release four American prisoners. He converted Nehru to the view that Pakistan was our real enemy. There was no need to fear China. The rest is history.

Krishna Menon was not a team man. He was a disastrous Defence Minister. He had contempt for senior generals. His favourite was the lamentable Lt Gen B.K. Kaul.

After Jawaharlal Nehru’s death, Menon almost became a non-person. Indira Gandhi denied him a Lok Sabha ticket in 1967.

Jairam Ramesh has been, on the whole, objective. Had he know Krishna Menon he would have been less so. Jairam’s book is destined to have huge sales and very long shelf life.


I have never met Deepika Padukone, nor have I seen any of her films. From time to time I have seen her photographs in magazines. By any standards she is a stunningly beautiful lady.

The wolf pack is now baying for her. What crime has she committed? She had the guts to go to the JNU students. She did not make a speech. Deepika Padukone conducted herself with dignified restraint. What a public spirited film star she is. Where are the Khans and other Bollywood luminaries? Why do they not follow the example of their co-star? Had my late friend Sunil Dutt been alive he would have accompanied Padukone to JNU. Well done, Deepika!


One hundred and six former IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS, IES officers—95% retired as Secretaries—have written an open letter opposing CAA and NPR. Very rarely do retired civil servants stick their necks out to challenge government decisions.

I quote from paragraph three, “We have grave reservations about the constitutional validity of the CAA provisions, which we also consider to be morally indefensible.” Parts of the letter appeared in several national newspapers. I very much doubt if any among the heavyweights in the establishment will read this letter. If anyone did, he probably threw it in the wastepaper basket.

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