UN troops bring a taste of India to a lawless DR Congo

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by pmaitra, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

    Mar 10, 2009
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    EST, USA
    UN troops bring a taste of India to a lawless DR Congo

    By Paul Moss
    BBC News, Congo

    In Africa's most lawless country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN troops face both appalling violence and also intense criticism for their failures, but for the Indian peacekeepers there is still time to enjoy a few of life's simple pleasures.

    The officer was genuinely upset.

    It was the senseless waste that seemed to distress him.

    He was Punjabi, a military man from a military family, and he had served in conflicts from Kashmir to the Chinese border.

    Now he was a UN peacekeeper in Congo.

    But even with this extensive experience of human behaviour, he had seen something here that defied all understanding.

    "It's the mangoes," he said. "They grow everywhere. They are good ones too. And you know what?"

    He sighed deeply, almost unable to articulate this outrage against all reason.

    "The local Congolese people here - they do not even know how to make mango chutney."

    I could have laughed. Or I could, perhaps, have been annoyed at his odd sense of priority.

    Here in North Kivu Province, you cannot count the number of war casualties - you cannot even count the number of wars.

    They range from a major confrontation with international dimensions, right down to little micro-battles, and with all sizes and shapes of conflict on the spectrum in between.

    As one Congolese journalist said to me - almost proudly - here, every hillside has its army.

    Culinary delights

    It is into this maelstrom that the troops from India have been sent, as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission.

    But their mandate here is not just about preventing war.

    "We want to set up social projects to develop the area," another Indian officer told me. "If people have jobs, they are less likely to fight."

    He showed me the village hall they are helping to build near the town of Kiwanja. And there are plans also for a school to teach car maintenance.

    But then, yes, he was an Indian, and his thoughts had turned to culinary possibilities. And that meant showing the villagers how to make mango chutney - they could sell the chutney or at least learn how preserving fruit makes it keep, a useful skill where refrigeration is scarce.

    But in the temporary absence of this crucial condiment, the troops were not going short of decent food.

    Much to my amazement, at their base they had built an impressive officers' mess and rustled up a dazzling selection of curries, side-dishes and fried rotis.

    Once upon a time, British officers serving in the Raj would go to great lengths to recreate familiar home comforts.

    Now these soldiers were echoing their former colonial masters - making sure there was a corner of an African field that was forever India.

    They had even had India's Kingfisher beer flown in and served it up in rather elegant pint glasses with spicy snacks on the side.

    I soon saw why they needed these comforts.

    Danger zone

    One morning we set off on foot patrol - about a dozen of us, all wearing bullet-proof jackets that weighed heavily in the damp equatorial heat.

    We were trekking into a remote area of farmland where the owners are often too scared to tend their fields.

    Every time one of the myriad armed factions here decides to take on another or to pillage a local community, the Indian troops are expected to throw themselves in the middle.

    As we tramped through the wet, knee-high vegetation, I asked one soldier where he came from. It turned out he came from a small town in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

    Another grew up in Kerala.

    None had been abroad before - and some would not even have left their home state until army life required it.

    Now here they were, on patrol in a distant country that I would guess some could not have found on a map.

    But the UN mission in Congo is not going according to plan.

    Only last July, one rebel group raped more than 200 women in a single attack.

    It turned out there was a UN peacekeeping base just 20 miles (30km) away, yet no troops showed up until several days after.

    It was, the UN admitted, a terrible failure.

    'No target'

    I raised this subject with the soldiers on my patrol. It seemed they had been handed a mission in which failures were clear but success was harder to define.

    There was no target destination to conquer nor invaders to expel.

    So what, I asked them, would count as victory?

    As if on cue, a group of children from a nearby village came past all laughing and giving the Indians a thumbs-up sign.

    "A little happiness on the face of a single villager," the platoon commander said, "that's a kind of victory."

    And he did not offer anything more substantial than that.

    It was odd to find this attitude, almost like Ghandi in its simplicity, from a man carrying an automatic weapon.

    But, the children were laughing. And in the midst of this war zone, I, too, felt a little safer to have the blue-helmeted soldiers alongside me.

    I thought of the Kingfisher beer waiting back at base and we carried on walking.

    Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9209911.stm
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  3. warriorextreme

    warriorextreme Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 29, 2010
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    wow man nice article..
    i also have heard about how indian army is making difference in lives of people of congo
  4. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

    Aug 21, 2010
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    Spoken like a true Indian, that is some hilarious shit!! :emot112:
  5. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

    Jul 2, 2010
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    Don't like this line :special29:
  6. Godless-Kafir

    Godless-Kafir DFI Buddha Senior Member

    Aug 21, 2010
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    Colonial Masters is such an raciest word, i wonder how he would feel if some one told him his Parliament building Architecture echoes their former colonial masters in Roam. But then no one cared to waste their resources to conquer a far flung land like Britian which frankly has nothing of value till the Crusades began.

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