Ramesh Thakur and Dipankar Banerjee
This country study of India has a fivefold significance. First, India is the largest troop contributor to UN Peacekeeping Operations (UN PKO), including twenty-four missions, ten force commanders, 4,747 officers, and 47,353 soldiers.1 As all Indian soldiers serve for a minimum of one year under the UN, rather than the more usual six months, the overall contribution is larger than these numbers might suggest. Ninetyfour Indian soldiers have died on peacekeeping duty since 1961, and forty officers and soldiers were decorated or received commendations during UN PKO. India also provided the bulk of the personnel for the three international control commissions (ICC) in Indochina after the 1954 Geneva Agreements. This is a record in which India and its armed forces take immense pride. It is seen both as the nation's commitment to international peace and as a showcase of its military proficiency and tradition.2
The Indian army has adequate manpower readily available and trained for peacekeeping, experience in all types of climate and terrain, and the full range of military capabilities from mechanized operations to dismounted infantry, engineer-dominant and humanitarian support, to meet all types of UNPKO. Since a 1993 memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the UN, India has maintained a Standby Brigade Group for UNPKO with a comprehensive all-round capability numbering 4,056 all ranks. An infantry battalion group is deployable within thirty days, and the remainder of the brigade within eight weeks. The force is kept at a high state of readiness; its actual commitment, of course, is subject to the government's decision.3
1 Kamalesh Sharma, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Agenda
Item 122: Improving the Financial Situation of the UN, Fifth Committee, New York,
March 23, 2000, p. 2.
2 See Appendix B, “Country participation in international operations, 1945–2000,” for
information on India's contribution.
3 Briefing by the Indian army's UN cell to Dipankar Banerjee, April 1999.