12 Sep :The Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju on his three days visit to Lebanon met Indian Peace Keeping troops today.
He interacted with the Indian contingent of nearly nine hundred personnel deployed in the UN Peace Keeping Operations. Shri Pallam Raju reviewed the contribution and role of Indian troops in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He was accompanied by Major General BV Nair, Addl DG (CW). This is the first visit in more than five years by a Union Minister to any Indian peacekeeping mission abroad.
India has deployed one infantry battalion in Lebanon which bears responsibility of Eastern position of South Lebanon. During the Israel – Hizbollah 34 Day War in 2006 the gallant actions of 4 SIKH were lauded by all. In recognition of the gallant performance, 4 SIKH was presented the UNIFIL Unit Citation for its distinguished role. In addition, 73 personnel of 4 SIKH were awarded UNIFIL Force Commander’s Special Commendation for outstanding performance.
India, as a Founder Member of the United Nations, has been a firm supporter for the purposes and principles of the United Nations and has made significant contributions. India’s ideal was, and remains, strengthening the whole body, and International Peace Security, and time and again, India has placed at risk the lives of its soldiers in peace keeping efforts of the UN.
India is the 3rd largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations. So far, India has taken part in 43 peacekeeping missions with more than 90,000 troops all over the world in various countries like Korea, Congo, Gaza, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan etc. The first deployment started in 1950’s, when India sent troops to Korea in 1953-54. Presently, India has deployed 8,875 personnel in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide. The dedication, commitment and devotion to Peace Keeping has made the Indian soldier the most sought after peacekeeper by the United Nations. India has provided 12 Force Commanders in various UN Missions. Towards the fulfillment of our commitment to the UN and world peace, 124 Indian soldiers have, so far made supreme sacrifice.
The Indian Army has also undertaken various humanitarian tasks besides the operational tasks in the Mission Areas to create an enviable reputation for itself, like conduct of Jaipur Foot Projects in Lebanon, medical camps for the locals, veterinary camps, AIDS awareness camps, construction of schools, play grounds and temporary shelters, digging of bore wells, constructing check dams for water harvesting, running vocational training institutes for self-employment, organizing sports functions for local school children and assistance for resettlement and rehabilitation.
The capability of the Indian troops to communicate in English language, operate state-of-the-art equipment and experience of participating in joint peacekeeping exercises in the US, UK and other countries to formulate common doctrines for global peacekeeping has enhanced the interoperability factor.
The UN is the largest multilateral contributor to the post conflict stabilization world-wide. There are more than one lakh personnel serving in 20 Peace Keeping Operations. Women are increasingly performing key leadership roles in the peace keeping. Between Feb 2007 and Jan 2008, there was an increase of 40% women serving in the peace keeping. The first all women contingent to serve in a peace keeping mission was a police unit from India which was deployed in 2007 to the UN operations in Liberia.
While interacting with troops Mr Raju complimented them for their dedication, sacrifices and commendable performance during peace-keeping mission in Lebanon. He also lauded the troops for their high standard of discipline and humanitarian approach towards suffering local people of Lebanon.