As compared to V.K. Krishna Menon, who has several biographies, Vappala Pangunni Menon, his contemporary, did not have any till Narayani Basu took up the challenge of throwing light on a man who played a pivotal role in the shaping of the Indian nation as we know it today. Unlike Krishna Menon, ‘VP’ was born in a poor household, received no formal education, yet became known for his ability to master the arcana of government and make himself indispensable to India’s colonial masters and then, the founding fathers of the new republic that succeeded them.
That Basu is the great-granddaughter of Menon should not distract. The book is no hagiography. It is a scholarly account of a subject who has remained hidden too long. Anyone who is familiar with modern Indian history would not but have read V.P. Menon’s seminal Integration of the Indian States and The Transfer of Power but these books have not revealed much about the man who played a key role in both the events.