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V. K. Krishna Menon

(1896 – 1974) – (Kerala)

Vengalil Krishna Kurup Krishna Menon (Aged 78) born on 3 May 1896, was an Indian politician, nationalist, and non-career diplomat. He was a close ally of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and was considered by some to be the second most powerful man in India. Menon played a key role in the development of India’s foreign policy, and is credited with writing the first draft of the Preamble to the Constitution of India. He is also known for coining the name of the Non-Aligned Movement and for initiating the idea of the Constituent Assembly of India.

Menon served as chairman of the Indian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly from 1953 to 1962 and to the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament. He was also a member of the Indian National Congress and the British Labour Party at different times in his career. Menon’s eloquence, brilliance, and forceful personality inspired both admiration and criticism in India and abroad.

As a young man, Menon was the founding editor of the Pelican imprint of Penguin Books. He led the overseas wing of the Indian independence movement and launched the India League in London. He campaigned aggressively in the United Kingdom to win public support for Indian independence and rallied the support of world powers such as the Soviet Union.

In 1957, Menon set the record for the longest speech before the U.N. Security Council (8 hours) while defending India’s rights to the disputed territory of Kashmir. This earned him the sobriquet “Hero of Kashmir” and widespread popularity. Menon was repeatedly elected to both houses of the Indian parliament from various constituencies after returning to India. He passed away on 6 October 1974. Even decades after his death, Menon remains a controversial and enigmatic figure.