The Indian Army's participation in the UN peacekeeping operations spans a period of 57 years covering 43 UN Missions, in which over ninety thousand Indian soldiers have served in various parts of the world. In support of UN peacekeeping endeavors, the Indian Army has contributed outstanding force commanders, elite military contingents, impartial observers and dedicated staff officers. Their devotion to duty and excellent performance has been widely acclaimed.
Time and again, India has risked the lives of its soldiers in peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations, not for any strategic gain, but in the service of an ideal. India's ideal was, and remains, strengthening the world body, and international peace and security. India has also offered one brigade group to the UN Standby Arrangement Systems.
Indian troops have taken part in some of the most difficult operations, and have suffered casualties in the service of the UN. Professional excellence of the Indian troops has won universal admiration. India has taken part in the UN peacekeeping operations in four continents. Its most significant contribution has been of peace and stability in Africa and Asia. It has demonstrated its unique capacity of sustaining large troop commitments over prolonged periods.
Presently, India is ranked, as the third largest troop contributor to the UN. The Indian government has honoured its soldiers for gallantry, whilst serving the noble cause of world peace.
Time and again, India has risked the lives of its soldiers in peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations, not for any strategic gain, but in the service of an ideal. India's ideal was, and remains, strengthening the world body, and international peace and security. While approaching our participation in different peacekeeping operations, we have based ourselves on the basic principles given below: -
All means for the peaceful settlement of disputes should be exhausted before establishing a peacekeeping operation.
Peacekeeping operations should strictly adhere to principles of the UN Charter, in particular the principles of full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, and non-intervention in their internal affairs.
Peacekeeping operations should be considered only at the request of the member states involved and should be under the command and control of the UN.
Resources for peacekeeping activities should not be at the expanse of resources for development activities of the UN.
There should be no hesitation in ending those operations, which have been overtaken by events or become inconsistent with their mandates.
It is also important to ensure that the distinction between peacekeeping operations and other activities of the UN, including humanitarian assistance, is maintained at all times.
The anticipated duration of a peacekeeping mission should be tied to clear objectives and realistic criteria to end the mission and an exit strategy.
Indian troops have taken part in some of the most difficult operations, and have suffered casualties in the service of the UN. Professional excellence of the Indian troops has won universal admiration. India has taken part in the UN peacekeeping operations in four continents. It most significant contribution has been to peace and stability in Africa and Asia. It has demonstrated its unique capacity of sustaining large troop commitments over prolonged periods. Presently, India is ranked among the largest and most reliable Troop Contributor Nations to the UN. India has also offered one brigade of troops to the UN Stand- by Arrangements.
Countries, which participate in UN Peacekeeping Operations, have to provide not only the military expertise but also have to be politically acceptable. The range of sensitive peacekeeping operations India has participated in is testimony to India’s image in the world.
India has always contributed generously to UN demands for peacekeeping. Known for their equanimity and forbearance, Indian troops have proved popular everywhere. The first call came early enough, when India sent troops to Korea to form the Custodian Force (India), which functioned under the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission headed by Major General (later General) KS Thimayya, DSO in 1953-54. This was a delicate task, involving the repatriation of Prisoners of War. This was followed by a stint at Gaza to keep Israeli and Egyptian forces apart.
The largest (and longest serving) contingent was sent to the Congo in 1961. A complete independent brigade group, it helped bring about peace and thereafter enforce it - which involved light to heavy engagements with motley groups beefed up by white mercenary columns. One most cherished compliment came from an adversary. The mercenaries themselves conceded, in later writings, that the Indian contingent's activity curbed their style. Mention was made of a certain tenacity of purpose in combat.
India has sent battalion groups, engineers, medical teams, mil observers and staff personnel to Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lebanon, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Congo, Sudan and Golan Heights. Observers and staff personnel have made their contributions to the international peace efforts in Central America, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Liberia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Congo, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Sudan and Golan Heights. After Korea (1950-52) and Congo (1960-63), India again sent a brigade group to Somalia and Congo displaying its resolve to support international community in peace and security issues.
India has also provided able leaders for various missions in General Thimayya in Korea & Cyprus, Lt Gen Dewan Prem Chand in Cyprus & Namibia, Lt Gen Satish Nambiar in Yugoslavia, Maj Gen Inderjit Rikhye in Sinai, West Irian & Yemen, Maj Gen PS Gyani in Yemen, Sinai & Cyprus, Maj Gen V Jaitley in Sierra Leone Maj Gen LM Tiwari in Lebanon, Maj Gen (now Lt Gen) Rajender Singh, SM, VSM in Ethiopia-Eritrea, Lt Gen RK Mehta, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VSM as Military Adviser to the Secretary General in UN HQ, Lt Gen JS Lidder, UYSM, AVSM in Sudan and Maj Gen Bikram Singh, AVSM, SM, VSM as Divisional Commander in Congo apart from many a contingent commanders.