Renowned for his diplomatic finesse, extreme courtesy and sharp intellect, KPS Menon (Junior) remains an inspiration for all current and aspiring IFS officers.
On 28 September, K P S Menon (Jr), former Foreign Secretary of India passed away due to age-related ailments at his home in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
He was 90.
Menon is survived by wife Lalithambika Menon and three sons Sivarama, Sivasankara and Sidhartha.
While talking to The New India Express, Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan expressed his condolences and praised Menon’s significant contributions, “He strived to make India’s foreign policy to be accepted widely and made it popular. His efforts to bring the popularity of India at international venues was commendable.”
Menon came from three generations of diplomats who played key roles in the India’s relations with other countries.
His father K P S Menon (Sr) was independent India’s first foreign secretary, his nephew Sivasankar Menon is former foreign secretary and National Security Advisor.
Menon is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi and Oxford University, UK. And in 1951, he cleared the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).
At a very early phase of his career, Menon was posted in Paris and London and later went on to serve as India’s Foreign Secretary of India from 1987 to 1989. He was also sent as India’s ambassador to several countries including China, Japan, Egypt and Bangladesh.
A noted writer, Menon’s sense of humour, intellect and humility were unmatchable.
A former Press Counsellor, M K Bhadrakumar who was a part of President S. Venkitaraman delegation to the then Soviet Union in 1988 describes Menon, as “a self-confident man with no insecurities or complexes”.
Speaking about the time when he was offered a job post retirement, Bhadrakumar writes:
“When KPS (Jr.) was retiring from the Foreign Service, he was offered a post-retirement job, which ordinary mortals would have found irresistible. But he politely declined, arguing that he had already booked a ticket long back to travel to Madras by the Grand Trunk Express to settle down in that ancient city. He was firm in his determination and clarity of mind that when you retire from the government as a public servant, well, you actually retire.”
In the tribute he also goes on to praise Menon’s humility and how power and money did not drive his actions or decisions.
After he returned to Kerala’s capital city to be with his family post retirement, Menon was actively involved in the activities of Kerala International Centre, a think-tank which he founded along with former diplomat Thomas Abraham and T.P. Sreenivasan, a former Ambassador of India.
Sreenivasan remembers how, despite serving as an IFS, Menon’s view were different from the conventional ones.
“K P S often surprised us with his unconventional views, such as his opposition to nuclear weapons and his conviction that government service was not a desirable vocation . . . We learnt much from him and he was also keen to learn more about international affairs,” he writes in his tribute in The Hindu.
Menon’s exceptional journey and impeccable performance as an Indian diplomat is an inspiration to all the current IFS officers and the ones aspiring to improve India’s international relations.
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Featured Image Source: K.M.Seethi/Facebook
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)