V. P. Menon

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V.P. Menon
V. P. Menon.jpg
Vappala Pangunni Menon

(1893-09-30)30 September 1893
Died31 December 1965(1965-12-31) (aged 72), Bangalore
OccupationCivil servant

Rao Bahadur Vappala Pangunni Menon, CSI, CIE (30 September 1893 – 31 December 1965) was an Indian civil servant who was the Constitutional Adviser[1][2] and Political Reforms Commissioner to the last three Viceroys during British rule in India.

He played a vital role in India's partition and political integration.[3] Later in his life, he became a member of the free-market–oriented Swatantra Party.

Personal life[edit]

The son of a school headmaster in Kerala, Menon worked as a railway stoker, coal miner and Bangalore tobacco company clerk before gaining a junior post in the Indian Civil Service. By working assiduously, Menon rose through the ranks to become the highest serving Indian officer in British India. In 1946, he was appointed Political Reforms Commissioner to the British Viceroy.

In Patrick French's India: A Portrait, a biographical book on the Indian Subcontinent, it is mentioned that VP Menon moved in with his Keralite friends after his wife left him and returned to south India. The two friends, who were a couple, had arranged his marriage and helped raise his two sons – Pangunni Anantan Menon and Pangunni Shankaran Menon. When the husband died, Menon married his widow.[4]

Menon was given the title of Rao Bahadur, appointed a CIE in the 1941 Birthday Honours [5] and a CSI in the 1946 Birthday Honours.[6]

Partition of India[edit]

See Also: Indian Independence Movement, Partition of India

Menon was the political advisor of the last Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten. When the interim Government had collapsed due to the rivalry between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, Menon had proposed to Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Indian leaders, the Muslim League's plan to partition India into two independent nations - India and Pakistan.

Menon's resourcefulness during this period caught the eye of Sardar Patel, who would become the Deputy Prime Minister of India in 1947.

VP Menon was present at the meeting between Lord Mountbatten and Hanwant Singh, Maharaja of Jodhpur. It was at this meeting that Hanwant Singh signed the instrument of accession to India. After he had signed and the Viceroy Mountbatten left, only Menon was in the room with him. The Maharaja took out a .22 calibre pistol and pointed it at Menon and said 'I refuse to take your dictation'. Menon told him that he would be making a very serious mistake by threatening him and would not be able to get the accession abrogated in any case.[7]

Integration of India[edit]

After the independence of India, Menon became the secretary of the Ministry of the States, headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, with whom he had developed a bond of trust. Patel respected Menon's political genius and work ethic, while Menon obtained the respect for his work that a civil servant needs from his political superior.

Menon worked closely with Patel over the integration of over 565 princely states into the union of India, managing the diplomacy between the States Ministry and the various Indian princes, acting as Patel's envoy and striking deals with reluctant princes and rulers. Patel respected Menon's ingenuity in diplomacy, and often did not question if Menon exceeded any instructions.

Menon also worked with Patel over the military action against the hostile states of Junagadh and Hyderabad, as well as advising Nehru and Patel on relations with Pakistan and the Kashmir conflict. The Cabinet had dispatched Menon to obtain the accession of Kashmir into India in 1947.

At Sardar Patel's behest, Menon subsequently wrote a book "The story of the integration of the Indian states" describing the process they had adopted for each state, based on his first hand experiences of the process.[8][9]

Later years[edit]

The partnership between Patel and Menon was of a rare kind. He was right hand of Sardar Patel and played a major role in integration of Independent India. Almost every Indian politician was allergic to civil servants, owing to their participation in the British Raj. Many Congressmen had demanded stripping the service of its privileges or disbanding it all together, owing to the role of British-era officers in imprisoning Congress leaders. Nehru himself was reluctant to listen to the civil servants who worked under him. He was Governor of Odisha (Orissa then) for a short period in 1951. Thus, after Patel's death in 1950, Menon himself retired from the newly formed Indian Administrative Service. He authored a book on the political integration of India, The Story of the Integration of Indian States and on the partition of India, Transfer of Power. He later joined Swatantra Party

Artistic depictions of V.P.Menon[edit]

In 2013, Adi Irani played V. P. Menon in Pradhanmantri (TV Series) on ABP News.


  • Menon, V.P (1961), The story of the integration of the Indian States, Orient Longmans, ISBN ASIN: B0007ILF54
  • Menon, V.P (1999), Integration of Indian States, Sangam Books Ltd, ISBN 81-250-1597-3
  • Menon, V.P (1999), The Transfer of Power in India, Sangam Books Ltd, ISBN 81-250-1596-5
  • V P Menon - The Forgotten Architect of Modern India (Forgotten-raj.org)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "V P Menon – The Forgotten Architect of Modern India" (PDF). Forgotten Raj. 13 April 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  2. ^ "V P Menon – The Forgotten Architect of Modern India". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  3. ^ "How Vallabhbhai Patel, V P Menon and Mountbatten unified India".
  4. ^ India - a portrait by Patrick French - page 13
  5. ^ London Gazette, 6 June 1941
  6. ^ London Gazette, 13 June 1946
  7. ^ India - a portrait by Patrick French (page 10)
  8. ^ Menon, V.P. (15 September 1955). The story of the integration of the Indian states. Bangalore: Longman Greens and Co. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. ^ Menon, V.P. "Pdf copy of the book "The Story of the Integration of the Indian States"" (PDF). BJP E-Library. Bharatiya Janata Party. Retrieved 22 March 2019.

External links[edit]

  • W. H. J. Christie, Menon, Vapal Pangunni (1894–1966), rev. S. R. Ashton Oxford Dictionary of National Biography