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Pethick-Lawrence Papers Menon, Vengalil Krishnan Krishna (1896–1974), diplomatist and politician Image Avec objets numériques
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Letter from V. K. Krishna Menon to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

India House, Aldwych, London, W.C.2.—Explains why Nehru has decided not to become a candidate for the chancellorship of the University of Cambridge. Encloses a copy of his letter to the Vice-Chancellor (1/350).

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Transcript

India House, | Aldwych, | London, W.C.2.
5th November, 1950.

My dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,

After the interview which you were kind enough to afford me, and our long talk, I sent a very full telegram to Panditji setting out all the facts. I had a reply from him which reveals both his concern for advice and his own embarrassment. He has asked me to say that he was very grateful to you for thinking of him in this connection and the discussions with me. He has told me in confidence, and I think it is right to tell you this for your own information, that there is very strong feeling in India about the whole business of a contest at all in which Panditji is involved. Indian public opinion has to be taken into account. It would be very resentful of a contest, and would be even more so if it went wrong in results! Panditji feels that the whole business may even have a bad effect on Indo-British relations and he says we cannot take that risk. He has, therefore, asked me to convey to you all this, and also to take such immediate steps as are possible to establish contact with the people concerned, in Cambridge, and to tell them that they should in whatever form possible, effect a withdrawal of his name. If necessary, I was to tell them in confidence of our difficulty in the matter. He has also authorised me to say to them that they could announce that the decision to have his name withdrawn was taken at his request. Also he is very conscious of the honour done to him by you and the rest of his supporters, and that no discourtesy to the University is intended in his decision.

I am glad to say that I was able to meet the Cambridge people last Friday. Mr. Gold and others, who came here to see me. I persuaded them after nearly an hour and a half’s talk to take the necessary steps for effecting a withdrawal. They were, however, most upset and resentful of the intervention of the Vice-Chancellor which they thought had spoilt the issue for them, but appreciated the Prime Minister’s difficulty. They have made a communication to the Vice-Chancellor, to whom I have also written. I enclose a copy of the letter for your personal information.

Being the weekend I was not able to get in touch with you. I spoke to the Observer people myself and I think they have dealt with the matter sympathetically.

Very kind regards,

Yours sincerely,
Krishna

Lord Pethick Lawrence of Peaslake, P.C.,
11, Old Square,
Lincoln’s Inn, W.C.2.

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Typed, except the signature.

Carbon copy of a letter from V. K. Krishna Menon to S. C. Roberts

Advises him of Nehru’s decision not to become a candidate for the chancellorship of the University of Cambridge.

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Transcript

4th November, 1950

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

I have now had the opportunity of ascertaining the views of my Prime Minister about the nomination of his name for the Chancellorship of University of Cambridge. I am to say, that Pandit Nehru is deeply conscious of the honour sought to be done to him and is very grateful to those who were good enough to think of him in this connection.

Pandit Nehru, however, does not wish to enter into any contest and therefore asked me to convey a request to those who have done him this honour to nominate him, to take such steps as they may consider suitable to effect its withdrawal. I have conveyed Pandit Nehru’s request to those concerned, and I have no doubt that in view of the high esteem in which they hold Pandit Nehru they would respect his wishes and accede to his request.

The Prime Minister is most anxious that you and the members of the University should not feel that any discourtesy whatsoever either to the University or to its Senators is intended or implied in the decision which he has made.

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

S. C. Roberts Esq.,
Vice-Chancellor of the University,
The Lodge, Pembroke College,
CAMBRIDGE.

Letter from V. K. Krishna Menon to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, 3 East 64th Street, New York.—Agrees with his views regarding the actions of the British Government in the Middle East, and shares his concern for Indo-British relations. Discusses the current situation in Egypt.

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Transcript

Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations,
3 East 64th Street, New York 21, N.Y.

17 November 1956

My dear Lord Pethwick† Lawrence,

Thank you for your letter. It was kind of you to have written to me. I had no doubt at all about your position or indeed of any responsible sane person in England! I share your apprehensions about Indo-British relations. There is much pressure in India in regard to this but I think and hope we will behave with a sense of maturity and proportion. I have fear, however, that if the U.K. pursues its predatory policy and finds a pretext for waging more war or pursuing expansionism perhaps using the Russian menace as an excuse we shall have serious difficulty.

The situation in regard to Egypt is anything but satisfactory. The reports we have of atrocities and the nature of the campaign waged there are shocking. It is inconceivable to us that in the present age that† British or their Commanders would behave in this way. I understand that Mr Gaitskell has been sent some information from independent sources by eye witnesses. As you probably know, journalists are not allowed into this area and our report, which I do not wish to be quoted, is that some of them have been arrested and detained for short periods. These are European journalists.

However, in regard to British policy, there is appreciation in India that the U.K. is very divided on this matter, and while there was much regret in the initial position of the Labour Party in August, there is understanding now that this is a fanatical approach to a difficult problem by the present Government and leaders. The next phase of this, if it is not renewal of war, would be an attempt to use the present crisis and the fact that the Middle East affairs† is before the United Nations, to attain through the U.N. and the U.S. the control of the Suez Canal under the guise of international organization. This issue of course is part of the general problem of internationalisation of waterways to which we all subscribe.

I am personally very apprehensive for all that goes on and whether it will be in regard to the Middle East or Hungary events can drift to a situation of world war.

On the topic that you have kindly written to me, namely, Indo-British relations, there is at present no danger of precipitate action. But I can envisage a situation where nothing else becomes possible say in the case of Britain being involved in a prolonged war.

Kind regards

Yours ever
Krishna

Lord Pethwick† Lawrence,
11 Old Square,
London, W.C.2. England.

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Marked by a secretary, ‘Let P-L ack: receipt of this letter on his Xmas card to Menon. 22/11/56.’

† Sic.