V. K. Krishna Menon: V. K. Krishna Menon was born at Panniyankara in Kozhikkode, Kerala, in the powerful Vengalil family of Southern India. His mother was the granddaughter of Raman Menon who had been the Dewan of Travancore between 1815 and 1817, serving Gowri Parvati Bayi. His father Komathu Krishna Kurup was the son of the Raja of Kadathanadu and a wealthy and influential lawyer. Menon had his early education in Thalassery and he took his B. A. degree from Presidency College, Chennai.
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.
Life and activities in England
In London, V. K. Krishna 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 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.
Diplomacy and foreign affairs
After India gained independence in 1947, V. K. Krishna Menon was appointed high commissioner to the United Kingdom, a post in which he remained until 1952. 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, but nothing was proved. Subsequently, he led the Indian delegation to the United Nations (1952 - 1962), where he adopted a policy of non-alignment, loudly criticising the United States. 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.
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. He was behind the conception of Sainik Schools in India, under the aegis of Sainik School Society, which runs over 24 schools across India. However, after India's defeat in the Sino-Indian War of 1962, he resigned from office for the country's lack of military preparedness. In 1967 he lost his parliamentary seat but was re-elected in 1969 from Midnapore. Again he was elected to the Parliament from Trivandrum. He died on October 6, 1974 in New Delhi.
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