K. P. S. Menon (senior)

Kumar Padma Sivasankara Menon
Foreign Secretary
In office
Monarch George VI
Preceded by Sir Hugh Weightman[1]
Succeeded by R K Nehru
Preceded by Sir Olaf Caroe
Preceded by Lt-Gen T. J. Hutton
Personal details
Born Kumar Padmanabha Sivasankara Menon
(1898-10-18)18 October 1898
Travancore, India
Died 22 November 1982(1982-11-22) (aged 84)
Ottapalam, Kerala, India
Nationality Travancore, Indian Empire and Republic of india
Spouse(s) Her Excellency Shrimathi Saraswathi Amma Palat
Occupation Diplomat

Kumar Padmanabha Sivasankara Menon CIE ICS[2] (October 18, 1898 – November 22, 1982), usually known as K. P. S. Menon, was a diplomat and diarist, a career member of the Indian Civil Service. He was appointed independent India's first Foreign Secretary, serving from 1948 to 1952. His long tenure makes him one of the central figures of Indian policy. His diaries are a source of great value and give a sharp sense of the man and his life.[3] He was Dewan(Prime Minister) of Bharatpur State, Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union from 1952 to 1961, and finally Ambassador to the People's Republic of China. In 1948, preceding events of the Korean War, the United Nations appointed him the Chairman of the UN Commission on Korea(UNCOK). [4]

K P S Menon's overland trip from Delhi to Chungking across the Himalayas, the Karakorams and the Pamirs during the Second World War was recorded in his book Delhi-Chungking: A Travel Diary (1947).[5] He was the first member of Indian origin in the political service when he joined in 1921 and was a signatory on behalf of India at the formation of the United Nations. He was a member of the Royal Central Asian Society.[6]

Early life

The Menon was born in Travancore, India, in 1898 in a distinguished aristocratic family. His father Kumara Menon was a lawyer from Ottapalam. His mother Janaki Amma came from Vellayani in Travancore, a niece of Kesava Pillai of Kandamath and cousin of Neyyattinkara N. K. Padmanabha Pillai. Upon her marriage to Kumara Menon,in a previously unprecedented manner (see Matrilineality in Kerala society), she moved to Kottayam to set up house with Kumara Menon who himself had moved away from his family in Ottapalam.[7] The children were also given titles from their father's side and not from the mother's side. He attended Madras Christian College and then Christ Church, University of Oxford,[8] where he was a contemporary of the future Prime Minister Anthony Eden and served as co-officers of the Asiatic Society. He served as the president of the Oxford Majlis Asian Society.[9]

Public service career

In 1922 K P S Menon secured the first rank in the combined Civil Services Examination and joined the ICS.[10] He served as Sub Collector of Tirupattur, Vellore District, then as District Magistrate in Trichy, Agent of the Government of India in the North West Frontier Province and Ceylon, then as Resident General of India in Hyderabad State. In 1934, he was sent as Crown Representative to investigate the state of Indians in Zanzibar, Kenya and Uganda. As Dewan of Bharatpur State, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in the New Year Honours of 1943.[11] After independence, he was India's first Foreign Secretary from 1948 to 1952, then Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland from 1952 to 1961 and Ambassador to China.[12] [13]

In a book by Robert Payne called China Diaries(1941-46), it was remarked that "Of all the foreign represenattives in China, K.P.S. Menon was the most beloved". Serving as the Political Agent in the North West Frontier of India, both his predecessor, Major Finnis and successor, Col. Barnes were assassinated by local tribesmen.

He married Saraswathi Amma, the daughter of Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair.[14] His son K P S Menon, Jr served as envoy to China and his maternal[15] grandson Shivshankar Menon was the National Security Advisor of India, representing the third generation of Indian Civil Servants from the same family.[12]

K P S Menon was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958[16] and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1979.[8]


He was a famed diarist and the author of over a dozen books on travel and diplomacy in Asia, and a two-part autobiography called Many Worlds and Many Worlds Revisited. His lectures were very popular and one commentator described him speaking as "a grand old lion, benevolent and wise".[17]


  • Many Worlds: An Autobiography
  • Many Worlds Revisited - Updated Autobiography
  • Delhi-Chungking: A Travel Diary (1947)
  • Russian Panorama
  • The Friendship of Great Peoples (1962)
  • The Flying Troika (1963)
  • The Resurgence of India: Reformation Or Revolution? Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Lectures (1963)
  • India & the Cold War (1966)
  • Journey Round the World (1966)
  • Biography of Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair
  • Lenin through Indian Eyes (1970)
  • Russia Revisited (1971)
  • The Lamp and the Lampstand
  • Twilight in China (1972)
  • The Indo-Soviet Treaty: Setting & Sequel (1972)
  • A Diplomat Speaks (1974)
  • Yesterday and Today (A Collection of articles) (1975) illustrated by Abu Abraham (Also 1976)
  • Changing Patterns of Diplomacy- Dr. Saiyidain Memorial Lectures (1977)
  • Memories and Musings (1979)
  • One Thousand Full Moons (Published posthumously in 1987)


  1. Jagat Mehta in "The Trust Betrayed" Accessed at Google Books : https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=aq3dCQAAQBAJ&pg=PT45&lpg=PT45&dq=sir+hugh+weightman&source=bl&ots=LniAm86Llq&sig=0J43Go0thVRlkjK0YjgBqZu23B8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi0rrKp3cXVAhVPOMAKHVimBA0Q6AEIOTAD#v=onepage&q=sir%20hugh%20weightman&f=false
  2. Burke's 1969
  3. See review of the book Flying Troika accessed at https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Flying_Troika_Extracts_from_a_Diary.html?id=eCTnnQEACAAJ&redir_esc=y
  4. http://www.unmultimedia.org/s/photo/detail/187/0187646.html
  5. Menon, K. P. S. Delhi Chungking.
  6. Menon, K. P. S. Many Worlds.
  7. K. P. S. Menon in K.P.S. Menon, Sr (1979). Memories and Musings. p. 310.
  8. 1 2 "K. P. S. Menon". Mahatma Gandhi University.
  9. Menon in Many World Revisited, Bhavan, Bombay,1981
  10. "No. 32763". The London Gazette. 3 November 1922. p. 7802.
  11. "No. 35841". The London Gazette. 29 December 1942. p. 7.
  12. 1 2 "Menon is next NSA". The Hindu. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  13. See Introduction in Patel Memorial Lectures, Publications Division Government of India March 1963
  14. "Succession of diplomats from Palat family". The Hindu. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  15. "S S Menon, who served in Israel, China and Pak, is new Foreign Secy". Indian Express. 1 Sep 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  16. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 15, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  17. See Page 5, K. P. S. Menon Commemoration Souvenir, October 18. 1984 published by the K.P.S. Menon Memorial Society, New Delhi
  18. Front Cover of Title Page, Memories and Musings, last work written. See K. P. S. Menon,Memories and Musings, Allied Publishers, New Delhi 1979
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.