Patel's aide Menon should not remain an unsung hero

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The statue of India's 'Iron Man' Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is touted as the tallest in the world! Patel, a Congress man, toiled for the needs of India and its people. He has been dubbed the Iron Man as he could successfully coordinate more than 500 princely states and bring them to the Union of India.

He was ably assisted in this endeavour by his secretary V P Menon, an Indian civil servant. Patel recognised Menon as a trusted lieutenant. But has the government done anything to remember Menon who played a critical role along with Patel in crafting a new India as India gained freedom? For this we need not follow the example of the Gujarat government by building a gigantic statue.

Menon, who was educated up to only seventh grade, had served as a diplomat and the Constitutional Adviser to the last three Viceroys. His unique intellect and personal strength benefited India at critical times. His could handle a crisis situation with finesse and poise showing incredible wisdom and sagacity.

He was the man behind the legendary bids to incorporate Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad into India. Alan Campbell Johnson's remark about Menon is worth remembering, "It is high statesmanship that can cover a revolutionary act in the mantle of traditional form."

Narayani Basu, the great granddaughter of V P Menon, recently told a national newspaper: "The combination of these two personalities was a deadly one. Patel’s open contempt for the rulers was tempered by Menon’s mix of subtlety, gruff charm and ruthlessness."

Unfortunately, Menon's role in unifying India is unknown for many today. It is a sad paradox that Vappala Pangunni Menon remains buried in Wikipedia with little or no information about his contributions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi should acknowledge the contribution of the great soul too, if not by erecting his statue, but at least by acknowledging Menon’s role in the formation of the modern India and spelling it out adequately for the future generation to comprehend. Menon should not remain an unsung hero.

Menon was born in 1893 in a little-known village some six kilometers out of Ottapalam in Palakkad district of Kerala. 

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