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SOURCE: INDIA TODAY

China is looking to increase the strength of its troops in United Nations peacekeeping missions, doubling its numbers compared to the Indian deployment, a move aimed at enhancing its influence at the intergovernmental organisation. There are 5,424 Indian Army personnel that includes troops on the ground and officers in staff appointments.

Completely outnumbered by the Indian deployment over the last many years, China has now planned to send an additional 8,000 troops in addition to the existing 2,548, sources said.

China looks at enhancing influence

This will not only be double of the current Indian deployment but also make China the highest contributor to UN missions in terms of troop strength.

The move is aimed enhancing the Chinese influence at the UN missions where the Indian Army has always been in demand and is amongst the highest contributors to the troop deployment.

China’s contribution to the overall UN budget is nearly 12 per cent second to the United States. India, on the other hand, has a budget of only 0.83 per cent.

Currently, India is ranked fifth in terms of the deployment after Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nepal while China is ninth in terms of their strength at UN missions.

The top three have more than 6,000 personnel each and India with 5,424 comes next to Nepal that has a strength of 5,714.

China deployed a full military battalion on a UN mission for the first time in 2015, in South Sudan. China is looking at deployments in African countries like South Sudan and Congo where it has key interests and investments.

According to reports, in 2016, Chinese soldiers abandoned their posts in South Sudan when faced with a hostile situation and failed to help thousands of civilians as they moved to their base after their posts were attacked during clashes between two political groups. However, the allegations were rejected by China.

Indian forces in demand at UN missions

Over the years, India has sent 2 lakh soldiers to the serving 52 of the 71 United Nations missions.

Indian Army’s popularity in these missions has been increasing and in 2018, for the first time, foreign troops began serving under the Indian Army battalion in Lebanon. A company of 120 Kazakh army troops was part of operations with the Indian Army.

A fresh batch of Indian troops are preparing to serve in South Sudan and will be leaving for the mission by month-end after competing their training for the one-year assignment.

“We have around 5,500 troops in eight countries of Africa and Middle East. They work tirelessly to maintain peace in conflict zones. Their contribution has been applauded by all and Indian troops are most sought after,” said Major General MK Katiyar, Additional Director General Staff Duties, before the new batch Indian soldiers sets off to South Sudan.

“It’s because of our belief that the world is one family. We have also worked towards aiding civil work, including infrastructure. During the Covid pandemic, our field hospitals in these countries have done a great job,” he added.

As part of preparations, they train for the challenges they will face, focusing on specifics of the region and also brush up their local language skills.

Of the 13 UN missions, the Indian Army has representation in eight. In four places, Indian Army troops from infantry battalions are deployed for ground duties at any given time.

The Indian Army sends its troops to Lebanon, South Sudan, Congo and Golan Heights for UN peacekeeping missions.

Indian women officers have also been part of staff appointments and of the 104 staff officers currently, there are around 15 women serving in the missions.

Earlier this year, Major Suman Gawani of the Indian Army was awarded the prestigious ‘United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award’. She served as a peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2019.