V P Menon: The Unsung Architect of Modern India
With his initial plans for an independent India in tatters, a desperate Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, turned to his senior-most Indian civil servant, Vappala Pangunni Menon— or ‘VP’—giving him a single night to devise an alternative, coherent and workable plan for independence. Menon met his stringent deadline, presenting the Menon plan, which would play midwife to India’s birth as a free nation. As Reforms Commissioner to India’s last three viceroys—Linlithgow, Wavell and Mountbatten and then as Secretary, States Ministry, VP used his enormous intellect, diligence and powers of persuasion, to integrate 565 states into the Indian Union. These included Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir - The big three with a history of dissent. As Sardar’s right-hand man, V.P. Menon was unarguably the architect of the modern Indian state. Yet startlingly little is known about this bureaucrat, patriot and visionary. In this definitive biography, Menon’s great-granddaughter, Narayani Basu, explores the man behind the public figure—his unconventional personal life; his determination to give women the right to vote; to his strategy, at once ruthless and subtle, to get the princely states to accede to India. Through letters, diaries and files long forgotten, the author looks into the world of a deeply flawed, intensely private, fiercely ambitious man. With unprecedented access to Menon’s papers and his taped off-the-record and explosively frank interviews in India and the United Kingdom–V.P Menon: The unsung Architect of Modern India not only covers the life and times of a man unjustly consigned to the footnotes of history but also changes our perception of how India, as we know it, came into being. Equally, the book candidly explores the man behind the public figure—his unconventional personal life and his private conflicts, which made him channel his energy into public service. Narayani Basu, a historian and academic, marries rigorous research with a flair for storytelling, to provide riveting portraits of the personalities of the Indian Independence movement, including stalwarts like Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Patel and Mountbatten, and bring fresh perspectives and insights into a period that continues to capture the imagination of every Indian citizen.