I am happy that the K.P.S Menon Memorial Society, of which I am privileged to be a member, is celebrating the Birth Centenary of that patriarch of Indian diplomacy.

'KPS', as he is warmly remembered, was the first Indian to be appointed to the Foreign and Political Department of British India, having distinguished himself as an administrator in the Indian Civil Service. As Chief Adviser to the San Francisco conference in 1945, that framed the Charter of the United Nations, he became witness to one of the most defining moments in modern history. That experience of seeing the best representatives of humanity meet in order to forge a better future for the world, coupled with his close acquaintance with India's political renaissance under Gandhi and Nehru, made KPS uniquely fitted for diplomatic assignments. He served as our Ambassador to China during a critical period in the history of that neighbouring country, represented India on the United Nations Commission on Korea and as Foreign Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in its formative years, moulded Indian diplomacy and foreign policy under the direct guidance of Jawaharlal Nehru.

A whole generation of Independent India's diplomats, imbibed the basics of diplomatic initiatives from K.P.S. Menon. India's relations with the Soviet Union which he nurtured for nine years as Ambassador to Moscow, continued to receive his attention even after his retirement. As President of the Indo-Soviet Cultural Society and the Soviet Land Nehru Awards which he instituted, KPS served India-USSR relations with diligence. The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation of 1971, which proved to be very important for India at that time, was made possible, in no small measure, because of the foundations laid by him.

KPS' annual New Year letters, which he continued to send from Ottapalam where he had settled after retirement, showed his human touch no less than his intellectual vitality. If his mastery over the English language was widely acknowledged, so was his rather special brand of humour which never failed to enliven a conversation, even if it was sometimes capable of puncturing inflated egos. When KPS passed away, at the age of eighty four, having witnessed a thousand full moons, and having experienced his 'many worlds', he would have rejoiced in leaving behind a life of useful service and a number of books authored for our delectation and benefit.

As we remember KPS, we extend our greetings to Smt. Saraswati Menon, 'Anujee', as she is fondly known, who enriched her husband's life and career by her great talents and the warm authenticity of her Indian bearing. We wish her good health and long life.

May I join his friends, relatives and admirers in paying tribute to Shri K.P.S. Menon by quoting from George Eliot:

"Oh may I join the choir invisible

Of those immortal dead who live again

In minds made better by their presence."

(K.R. Narayanan)

October 18, 1998
New Delhi
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