K. P. S. Menon

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Kumar Padma Sivasankara Menon

Foreign Secretary
In office
MonarchGeorge VI
Preceded bySir Hugh Weightman
Succeeded byR. K. Nehru
Preceded bySir Olaf Caroe
Preceded byLt-Gen Thomas Jacomb Hutton
Personal details
Kumara Padma Sivasankara Menon

(1898-10-18)18 October 1898
Travancore, British India
Died22 November 1982(1982-11-22) (aged 84)
Ottapalam, Kerala, India
Spouse(s)Saraswathi Amma

Kumara Padma Sivasankara Menon Sr. CIE ICS (18 October 1898 – 22 November 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.

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).[1]

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).[2] He was a signatory on behalf of India at the formation of the United Nations. He was a member of the Royal Central Asian Society.[3]

Early life[edit]

K. P. S. Menon was born in Travancore, British India, in 1898 in a distinguished aristocratic family. His father Kumara Menon was a lawyer from Ottapalam. His mother Janaki Amma came from Vellayani near Thiruvananthapuram 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.[4] 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,[5] 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.[6][page needed] He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 30 November 1918,[7] but withdrew without being Called to the Bar on 15 March 1928.[citation needed]

Public service career[edit]

In 1922, Menon secured the first rank in the combined Civil Services Examination and joined the ICS.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] [11]

Menon married Saraswathi Amma, the daughter of C. Sankaran Nair.[12] His son, who bore the same name as him, served as envoy to China and his maternal grandson Shivshankar Menon was the Foreign Secretary and later the National Security Advisor.[13][10]

Menon was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958[14] and the Lenin Peace Prize.[5]


Menon's published writings include:[15]

  • 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 (1975) - a collection of articles, illustrated by Abu Abraham
  • Changing Patterns of Diplomacy- Dr. Saiyidain Memorial Lectures (1977)
  • Memories and Musings (1979)
  • One Thousand Full Moons (Published posthumously in 1987)


  1. ^ http://www.unmultimedia.org/s/photo/detail/187/0187646.html
  2. ^ Menon, K. P. S. Delhi Chungking.
  3. ^ Menon, K. P. S. Many Worlds.
  4. ^ K. P. S. Menon in K.P.S. Menon, Sr (1979). Memories and Musings. p. 310.
  5. ^ a b "K. P. S. Menon". Mahatma Gandhi University. Archived from the original on 2 November 2011.
  6. ^ Menon in Many World Revisited, Bhavan, Bombay,1981
  7. ^ Sturgess, H. A. C. (1949). Register of Admissions to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (PDF). 3. Butterworth. p. 830.
  8. ^ "No. 32763". The London Gazette. 3 November 1922. p. 7802.
  9. ^ "No. 35841". The London Gazette. 29 December 1942. p. 7.
  10. ^ a b "Menon is next NSA". The Hindu. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  11. ^ See Introduction in Patel Memorial Lectures, Publications Division Government of India March 1963
  12. ^ "Succession of diplomats from Palat family". The Hindu. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  13. ^ "S S Menon, who served in Israel, China and Pak, is new Foreign Secy". Indian Express. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  15. ^ Front Cover of Title Page, Memories and Musings, last work written. See K. P. S. Menon,Memories and Musings, Allied Publishers, New Delhi 1979