UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed gratitude for India's contribution to the United Nations and its peacekeeping missions, underlining the inspiring role Indian women have played for the world body to help maintain international peace and security.
India today contributes about 6,400 peacekeepers to various missions across the world, Mr Guterres said on Friday during a special tea reception hosted by India's Permanent Mission to the UN to commemorate the International Day of UN Peacekeepers and "pay homage to those who couldn't return" after their service in the missions.
"My message is of gratitude for the enormous contribution that India has been giving to all causes of the United Nations but in particular to peacekeeping and (I) express my enormous admiration for the courage and the spirit of sacrifice of Indian peacekeepers - women and men, a high percentage of women - in support of the ideals of UN," Mr Guterres said.
The event, attended by UN ambassadors and diplomats, police and military personnel from peacekeeping, has become an annual tradition along with other solemn ceremonies conducted at the world body's headquarters.
Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare were also present during the event.
"India has been an example of commitment to the United Nations Charter, to the values of the UN and with the sacrifice of their women and men through peacekeeping," Mr Guterres said, while beginning his address with a "Namaste" (greetings).
As he ended his address with a "Dhanyawaad" (thanks), he underlined that India has the largest percentage of women in police force, at around 32 per cent, "which is absolutely remarkable and is an extraordinary contribution to the future of peacekeeping."
India's UN envoy Syed Akbaruddin said the country pays homage to those who could not return after their service in the UN peacekeeping.
"Peacekeeping is the United Nations effort which is multi-stakeholder in its essence... All of us are bound together here as Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs). This year perhaps we have had the least amount of casualties but one casualty is one too many," he said.
"Peacekeeping has been a difficult endeavour but it has not deterred all of us from working together for international peace and security," Mr Akbaruddin added.
India is the fourth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently contributes military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, the Middle East, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.