The Palakkad connection to the nuclear deal

September 7th, 2008 - 4:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Not many would be aware that the north Kerala district of Palakkad has a crucial link to the Indo-US nuclear deal.While two top bureaucrats from Palakkad - Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan - played a crucial role in implementing the deal, Prakash Karat, the general secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) who is also from Palakkad, opposed the deal tooth and nail.

“Palakkad has a ‘placement’ in the formation of the country’s foreign policy and ensuring internal security ever since the country got independence in 1947,” N.N. Krishnadas, MP representing Palakkad in the Lok Sabha, told IANS.

“The connection begins right from V.P. Menon, who was secretary to the then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He played a major role in the unification of the country,” said Krishnadas.

Shivshankar Menon, who presented the country’s view before the elite club of 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to clear the deal, comes from a Palakkad Menon family that has foreign diplomacy running in their blood.

His grandfather K.P.S. Menon (senior) was the first foreign secretary of India, and his uncle K.P.S. Menon (junior) was India’s former ambassador to China.

Before getting the top diplomatic slot of the country, Shivshankar Menon served as the high commissioner to Pakistan and served in China and Israel as ambassador.

Menon, who will retire from the service in 2011, hails from the well-known Palat Tharavad (family of Nairs and Menons) in Ottappalam.

Mayankote Kelath Narayanan, or NSA M.K. Narayanan, also hails from Ottappalam.

Narayanan, who was the chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) from 1987 to 1990, was appointed to the post of NSA Jan 25, 2005, after former NSA J.N. Dixit, died on Jan 3, 2005.

Narayanan headed the Intelligence Bureau (IB) before heading the Joint Intelligence Committee. He became Chief of the IB again in 1991, before retiring in 1992. He was the Special Advisor for Internal Security to the Prime Minister since May 2004.

“K.P.S. Menon (senior) played a major role in the formation of Nehruvian foreign policy like Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). His son K.P.S. Menon (Junior) was also a career diplomat. Now, their kin Shivshankar Menon and NSA M.K. Narayanan have assured Palakkad’s ‘place’ in the formation of New Delhi’s foreign policy,” Krishnadas, a Marxist, said while praising his leader Prakash Karat for taking a strong stand against the deal with the US.

“I’m sure that comrade Karat’s views against the deal would be proved correct in future,” Krishnadas said.

Karat, who belongs to Palakkad’s Nair landlord family, was born in Rangoon, Burma (present day Yangon in Myanmar). Whenever he visits Palakkad for party programmes, Karat finds time to visit his relatives in Elappully, a remote village in the district.

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