In a rare gesture, the British government has decided to commemorate V.K. Krishna Menon’s long and eventful association with London by putting up an English Heritage blue plaque at the house where he lived when he first moved to the city.
The plaque at Number 30 Langdon Park Road in Highgate, north London, where he lived from 1929 to 1931, will be unveiled on Wednesday by Left-Wing Labour veteran Tony Benn who knew Menon personally.
Howard Spencer of the 150-year-old Blue Plaques scheme described Menon as “a formidable man — determined in his beliefs, passionate in his pursuit of what he felt to be right, and unafraid of controversy.”
Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel are among the other Indian leaders previously honoured by English Heritage.
During his long stay in London, culminating in his being appointed independent India’s first High Commissioner to the U.K., Menon took an active interest in the social and political life of the city.
For 14 years in the 1930s, he served as a Labour councillor for the Borough of St. Pancras, and is still remembered for introducing travelling libraries and children’s corners.
During the Second World War, he served as an air warden around Camden Square, where he lived at the time, and in 1955 he was made a freeman of St. Pancras, only the second person ever to be given the honour after George Bernard Shaw.
An indefatigable pamphleteer and fiery orator, Menon led the campaign for Indian independence with his characteristic gusto.
The former Labour Prime Minister, James Callaghan, once described him as “the embodiment of the movement within Britain for India’s freedom.”