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A REVIEW ON THE BOOK – A CHEQUERED BRILLIANCE: THE MANY LIVES OF V.K. KRISHNA MENON by Shri. Jairam Ramesh, M.P

A REVIEW ON THE BOOK – A CHEQUERED BRILLIANCE: THE MANY LIVES OF V.K. KRISHNA MENON by Shri. Jairam Ramesh, M.P :

“Some cannot be pinned to any particular stage ; their stage is the world at large”.

VK Krishna Menon was one such personality, who could not be confined to one place, community or one nation. Although a staunch nationalist, who fought for Indian Independence in his own right and ways, he had taken a wider canvas to prove his near indispensability in global affairs during his time.

Born in Calicut, Kerala he was as instrumental as other freedom fighters of India in getting India freedom from the British rule. Indian freedom struggle was a peaceful affair full of protracted negotiations, agreements and disagreements. While the freedom fighters in India were doing that and more in India through the congress, Krishna Menon was doing the same and more in Britain, through the India League in London. In a way he was in a much more precarious position, having to disagree with the enemies in their own land. But VK Krishna Menon, being what he is, carried out his responsibilities with indefatigable spirit and in his own impeccable yet abrasive style.

From the very beginning, life of Krishna Menon has been mired in controversy and deep mystery. An extremely intelligent personality he had the grasp of everything under the sky. This high intellect in him was more often the cause of his making bitter enemies out of close friends. Perhaps his failing to recognise that “Mediocrity is the norm in some circles and Intellect is an Exception” was the prime reason for his bitter and angry fallouts with his friends and at times admirers. A man of extremely high integrity and forthrightness he was highly misunderstood and seen as controversial. Perhaps because he expected everyone to possess the same high standards of intellect and values that he possessed, he acquired the tag of hubristic personality.

While everything about him creates awe, disagreement and controversy, there are a few things about him that cannot be left out without mentioning.

His outstanding speech in the UN assembly on J&K that went on for hours, is still a record that perhaps none can match leave alone beat, anytime soon in the future. As a person he was indubitably responsible for taking Indian position in the global comity of nations to a higher level. As, late Justice Krishna Iyer,observes in one of the videos on VK Krishna Menon, whenever there was any trouble in any part of the globe, the world looked for VK Krishna Menon and heard his counsel.

His nationalism was never in doubt, although he was falsely accused of belonging to blocs which he never really was. In today’s age when nationalism has undergone several meanings and has even been usurped by sub nationalism and other parochial interests, it is just impossible to decipher and digest the fact that a man born in Kerala could get elected from Bombay and W. Bengal in the parliamentary elections. Leave alone Lok Sabha, these days for someone not belonging to the state of origin, to get nominated even to the Rajya Sabha from another state is rather impossible. A sad reflection of the times and the extent of Parochialism and nepotism that has come to be regarded as acceptable norms.

The 1962 war with China more or less ended his Political Life. However to blame him personally for the defeat is unfair and wrong. There were differences of opinions in the forces (Military), there was the foreign exchange crunch which gave little comfort for purchases of armaments and the inability of the cabinet to read the pleadings of Menon for higher allotments for defence.

His role in diffusing several tensions in relations between nations has been well captured in this book.

At the end of the day, this book offers good insights into his writings, his sustained communications with Jawaharlal Nehru and his overall personality.

Perhaps Indian Education or Planning would have benefited if VK Krishna Menon a man of rare and high intellect was placed in charge of those departments.

Sometimes a man becomes his own enemy, perhaps VK Krishna Menon was one such man.

PS: The author Shri. Jairam Ramesh, M.P has done extensive research, and the book contains rare letters, correspondences, and photographs sourced from global archives, corroborates the personality of VK Krishna Menon.

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RAMARAO Garimella
9 months ago

As a young officer in the Navy, I used to admire VKK for his eloquence. When he joined JLN and asked an ill equipped army to throw out the Chinese in 1962, he fell few feet in my estimate. In the forces we used to hear about his aceribic remarks on the files and get mad. The jeep scandal finished him and he dashed into oblivion.

Navneet Bakshi
11 months ago

A very brief and good review about the enigmatic personality. His role in India’s debacle in 1962 war perhaps a blemish on his otherwise illustrious career. I don’t know how was it right to put all the blame on him, but Nehru and his descendants are above board. They can do now wrong. When I was in China, it was the first time that I learnt that the main cause of Indo-China war was the ill conceived Forward Policy of Mr. Nehru. Since, the book has been written by a Congress loyalist and although, he is an erudite scholar, I doubt his sincerity and approach in the matters involving Nehru’s failure but since that may be outside the purview of this book, it will be wrong for me to discuss that here and it will also be wrong on my part to say more, without reading the book.

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