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Remembering Lakshmi N Menon, a lady diplomat

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LAKSHMI Nandan MENON (1899–1994)
Few would remember this unassuming, khadi clad diplomat who handled external affairs for India during and after the Chinese debacle. She held together with great dignity, the fraying edges of the visible Indian fabric, the declining clout in the international scene and the last vestiges of the NAM or nonaligned movement. Lakshmi Menon was instrumental in a determined defense of the fort after the mood went south at Delhi’s South block, led by the downcast Jawaharlal Nehru, deeply hurt and depressed after the Chinese betrayal. Lakshmi who was in the thick of things, her words and actions deeply rooted in Gandhian principles, chose not to pen her autobiography, nor did well known colleagues and writers doting on populist figures, mention her in their writings. That was always what she was famous for, working quietly behind the scenes, trying to usher order amidst chaos.
Crisscrossing the world, meeting and hobnobbing with world leaders and dignitaries di…