K. P. S. Menon (senior)

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Kumara Padmanabha Sivasankara Menon CIE ICS (October 18, 1898 – November 22, 1982), usually known as K. P. S. Menon, was a diplomat, a career member of the Indian Civil Service and later of the Indian Foreign Service, who after independence became India's first Foreign Secretary, serving from 1948 to 1952. He was Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union from 1952 to 1961, and finally Ambassador to the People's Republic of China. His overland trip from Delhi to Chungking via the Karakoram during the second world war resulted in the classic book Delhi-Chungking: A Travel Diary (1947).[1] 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.[2]

Early life[edit]

Menon was born in Palakkad, India, in 1898. His father 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 Matriliny)in Kerala society, she moved to Kottayam to set up house with Kumara Menon. The children were also given titles from their father's side and not from the uncle on the mother's side. He was christened Kumar Padmanabha after the tutelary deity of the Kayamkulam and Venad branches of the Travancore Royal Family [3] He attended the CMS College, Kottayam, and then Madras Christian College and the University of Oxford,[4] where he was president of the Oxford Majlis Asian Society.

Public service career[edit]

In 1922 Menon secured the first rank in the Civil Services examination and joined the ICS.[5] As Dewan of Bharatpur State, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in the New Year Honours of 1943.[6] He served as District Magistrate in Trichy, Foreign officer in the North West Frontier Province and Ceylon, then as Resident General of India in Hyderabad State. After independence, he was India's first Foreign Secretary, then Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union from 1952 to 1961 and Ambassador to China.[7]

He married Anujee, the daughter of Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair.[8] His son KPS Menon Junior served as envoy to China and his maternal[9] grandson Shivshankar Menon was the National Security Advisor of India, representing the third generation of Indian Civil Servants from the same family.[7]

Menon was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958[10] and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1979.[4]


Menon was the author of over a dozen books on travel and diplomacy in Asia, and of books of autobiography called Many Worlds and Many Worlds Revisited


  1. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Delhi_Chungking.html?id=x-cbnQsGjRgC&redir_esc=y
  2. ^ https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jyZ-lwEACAAJ&dq=inauthor:%22K.P.S.+Menon%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiSiuv83bTPAhVEC8AKHRkUC5UQ6AEIJjAB
  3. ^ Page 50-55 "Kandamathu Kudumba Sangamam Published by K. K. N., Neyyattinkara, S. India 1995
  4. ^ a b "K. P. S. Menon". Mahatma Gandhi University. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32763. p. 7802. 3 November 1922. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35841. p. 7. 29 December 1942. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  7. ^ a b "Menon is next NSA". The Hindu. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  8. ^ "Succession of diplomats from Palat family". The Hindu. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  9. ^ "S S Menon, who served in Israel, China and Pak, is new Foreign Secy". Indian Express. 1 Sep 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  10. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.