These are just two of the 44 allegations made against Indian peacekeeping forces, of which six have been corroborated through a special probe by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services. The current allegations are in stark contrast to the high reputation Indian troops have enjoyed internationally ever since they went on their first peacekeeping mission to the Congo in the early 1960s. Maj Gen Ashok Mehta, who served with that force, recalls they were the best and the brightest of the Indian army, "our most decorated soldiers, including two who had won the Victoria Cross". By sending its best, India was making a point about its commitment to UN peacekeeping, he notes.
That commitment to peacekeeping missions remains high—currently India provides 8,964 personnel for peacekeeping operations around the world, the largest number sent by any country after Bangladesh and Pakistan. And Indian troops are in demand because of their reputation for professionalism. A UN peacekeeping assignment is much sought after in the Indian army. Selection for this one-year assignment is intensely competitive since it puts an army officer on the fast track in his career, apart from giving him a very handsome paypacket—upwards of $2,200 a month for an officer and $1,100 for a jawan, in addition to other generous allowances and perks. Of the 80,000-plus troops India has sent for such missions since '48, only one has ever been charged with misconduct, and he was immediately court-martialled and dismissed by the Indian military. That proud reputation is now seriously jeopardised.