Krishnarao Shelvankar

Other names: 

Krishnarao Shiva Shelvankar


Alhambra Hotel
6 Coram Street
London, WC1N 1HB
United Kingdom
51° 31' 26.5188" N, 0° 7' 34.1364" W
Date of birth: 
03 Mar 1906
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Date of death: 
19 Nov 1996
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
19 Nov 1996
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1929-68, 1978-96


Krishnarao Shelvankar grew up in Madras, and was educated at the Theosophical School in Adyar which was founded by Annie Besant and Jiddu Krishnamurti. He was awarded a postgraduate fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in the 1920s, where he studied for an MA and a PhD. Krishnarao Shelvankar arrived in England in 1929 to study political philosophy at the London School of Economics with Harold Laski, who together with Krishna Menon had a lasting influence on his thinking. He gained notoriety with the publication of Ends are Means, a response to Aldous Huxley's Ends or Means? (1937). Krishna Menon encouraged him to write The Problem with India, a book deemed so incendiary that it was subsequently banned in India. Both books influenced many political thinkers on the Left at the time.

Shelvankar was co-editor of the the quarterly journal Indian Writing in the 1940s. He wrote for The Hindu newspaper in London from 1942-68. For two years, he worked for Nehru as his press advisor. In 1942, he was asked to work for the BBC Indian Section of the Eastern Service by George Orwell. Shevankar formed part of a wider network of South Asians working at the BBC, such as Cedric Dover, Mulk Raj Anand, and Narayana Menon. In November 1944 he became an advisor to the Federation of Indian Student Societies in Great Britain and Ireland. He spoke at the organization's weekend school, which was held at Caxton Hall in January 1945.

He later moved to Moscow, Hanoi and Oslo as ambassador to India with his Scottish wife Mary, who was also active in the independence movement. He retired in 1978 and moved back to London.

Published works: 

Ends are Means: A Critique of Social Values (London: Drummond, 1938)

The Problem of India (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1940)

Aspects of Planned Development (Chandigarh: Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, 1985)

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Hindu

Indian Writing


'The British Intelligentsia', Indian Writing 1.3 (March 1941)

'Science in India', Indian Writing 2 (Summer 1942)

 Book Reviews:

'East versus West', Indian Writing 1.1 (Spring 1940)

'The Indian Press',  Indian Writing 1.2 (Summer 1940)

'Nehru and the Traitor Class', Indian Writing 1.3 (March 1941)

'Molotov and Conolly', Indian Writing 1.4 (Aug. 1941)

Secondary works: 

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/639, L/I/1/1512, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading