Difficult to stop when one starts writing about Nehru. So much was he responsible for what we are today, both good and bad. That there is much bad and less good is again a fact of history, but when it was happening, few of us were aware of the fact that we were heading for the kind of disaster [disasters] that we were to experience so painfully later on in our lives.
Nehru liked persons who spoke well, looked well and dressed well. Some names that did a lot of damage come to mind. Top of the table was Krishna Menon. He was our ambassador to the mother country, Great Britain. When he was so placed he did his best to sour the relations between the two countries. Arrogance seeped out of all the orifices of his body, principally out of his mouth. Such a foul mouthed man this country is unlikely to see again. The famous spat between Krishna Menon and Kushwant Singh who was then our press attaché took place when Menon was the ambassador. Nehru chose him to be our representative in the UN to plead our Kashmir case. This he did with such inefficiency and boredom that he antagonized most of the western countries and nearly lost our case. Then, adding insult to injury Nehru chose him to be our defense minister. In this capacity he was an unmitigated disaster.
Another of Nehru’s choice went by the name of Sardar Panikkar. This chap was a not a Sikh but a Malayalee like Krishna menon, and excelled him in stupidity. He was our ambassador at Beijing. Chinese were building up troops at our border and all the time saying that they and we were brothers. Panikkar kept sending rosy reports despite advice to the contrary by the army generals, most notably, Gen Thimayya. Nehru believed him and when the Chinese gave us a bloody nose, the folly of Nehru stood exposed. He had to drop his friend and nations curse, Krishna Menon, very reluctantly. What happened to Panikkar I don’t know. Nehru died soon after the Indo Chinese war. Some say he never really recovered from this disaster. But the nation was so taken up with this man, that most of us did not realize that he was the principal culprit.
But there was one Malayalee who contributed a great deal at the time we became independent. Mr [Sir?]V.P.Menon. The two Menons were not only unrelated but also were poles apart. This Menon rose from the ranks to become one of the finest civil servants the country ever produced. He was primarily responsible for keeping the country united and bringing the 500 odd small and big princes under unified India. He did this with some charm, bit of diplomacy and good deal of threat and once by actual army action [Hyderabad]. Though the credit goes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel [then home minister], it was Menon who did the spade work. It was also this Menon who helped in drafting the Indian constitution. If anyone deserves Bharat Ratna to be given posthumously, V.P Menon deserves it most.