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Featuring Non Resident Indians who have made a mark. . . from Garamchai.Com >> Features >> Major-General Indar Jit Rikhye, an Indian peacekeeper


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Major-General Indar Jit Rikhye, an Indian peacekeeper

Books by Gen. Rikhye from


Maj. Gen. Rikhye was born in 1920 in Lahore, now a city in Pakistan, the son of a former medical officer in the British Indian Army. He graduated from the Indian Military Academy in 1939 and was commissioned by King George VI to serve in the sixth Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers, known as the Bengal Lancers. In 1957 he was assigned to command India’s troops in the Sinai and Gaza as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force there. He became chief of staff for the United Nations’ Emergency Force in 1958 and later its acting force commander. Two years later he was appointed military adviser to the U.N. Secretary-Generals Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant. After his retirement from military service, Rikhye founded the International Peace Academy, where he served as president for 20 years. UVA Today

Rikhye, a major general in the Indian Army who was a critical military adviser to United Nations peacekeepers around the world and then founding president of a research institute devoted to training peacekeepers, died May 21 in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was 86.

Rikhye resigned from the United Nations in 1969, and co-founded the International Peace Academy, a nongovernmental institute for research in conflict resolution based in New York. The academy became an unofficial training institute for UN peacekeeping forces. International Herald Tribune

Rikhye did not get the lecture on peace he expected. That was as well, for with his young head full of military parades, war novels and tales of his family connections with Maharajah Ranjit Singh, “the Lion of Punjab”, he was not inclined to listen. But Gandhi was wise, and possibly foresaw that Indar Jit's life as a soldier was in fact to be all about peace.

His most famous test came in Gaza in 1967, just before the six-day war between Egypt and Israel. He knew the Middle East; his career as a peacekeeper had begun there in 1956, sent out by Jawaharlal Nehru in a flush of enthusiasm to prove the neutral credentials of newly independent India. After long service there—in Indonesia, Cuba and Yemen, and as military adviser to two secretary-generals—he set up the International Peace Academy in New York.

In his last years, living contentedly in America, General Rikhye would often wish aloud that Pakistan and India could bridge their differences and combine their armies.

I.J. Rikhye; Indian Major General Oversaw U.N. Peacekeeping Efforts: I.J. Rikhye, 86, a major general in the Indian army who served as military adviser to United Nations secretaries-general Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant in the 1960s, died May 21 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, near his home. He had respiratory failure.

From 1970 to 1990, he was president of the International Peace Academy, a New York-based organization that promotes the settlement of armed conflicts by training negotiators, diplomats and military personnel in peacekeeping.

Gen. Rikhye (pronounced Rickey) had a distinguished 38-year career in the Indian army. He served with the famed Bengal Lancers during World War II and, starting in the late 1950s, was assigned to U.N. peacekeeping units. He was credited with combining great resolve as a coordinator with physical courage.

Brian E. Urquhart, a former U.N. undersecretary-general, described Gen. Rikhye as "a very good soldier, which most people in the secretariat were not," because they lacked basic knowledge of military procedure. - Washington Post

Wikipedia entry about General Rikhey
SAJA blog obit Gen. Indar Jit Rikhye, Man of War and Peace.

General Indar Jit Rikhye's viewpoint in "Indian Veteran Officers Association of North America" [IVOANA]:

Nuclear Deal: US-India style United States - India Diplomacy Showing Edges

It is important to remember that at its independence India, the world’s largest democracy, and the United States, the most powerful nation, should have been natural allies. The memories of the cold war and India’s adoption of nonalignment and consequent response of the US are permanently imprinted in the respective history of the two countries. The complexity of relations between the two did not prevent both sides to find ways to interact and search for common interests. While about two million people of Indian origin settled in the US, coming mostly from the middle class, their knowledge of the United States facilitated their relations with Americans in comparison to the spread of information of India in the United States. Americans know and understand Pakistanis far better because of long and durable relations between the two countries. While generally all immigrants from the Indian subcontinent adept American style of life, yet occasional short time Indian visitors and people the Americans meet in India are different and formal.

In the current dialogue India has considerable advantage of understanding the American psyche and their goals. India’s representatives enjoy the support of a wide spread of brilliant and experienced people of Indian origin who are spread across in key positions in the country. In the manner of other nations’ immigrants such Indian groups help and influence Indian policy to benefit both sides. The United States has scores of scholars specializing in related areas, whereas, other than the nuclear scientists and a few involved professionally in the policy making groups of leadership, there are a few in India. Of course the US Think Tanks greatly contribute to policy making. But they all have a role, which may not be similar to the US governments chosen policy.

The current brouhaha was started by Ambassador David Mulford’s warning to India of the dire consequences of their voting in favor of Iran at IAEA meeting relating to its failure to comply with past agreements and proceeding to develop a nuclear bomb. India’s respected master strategist, K. Subrmanyam, has correctly pointed out that nations use such threats in diplomacy. But surely, the left wing of present Congress led coalition has repeatedly opposed strategic alliances with the United States. Furthermore, the generation who lived and opposed colonial domination, though greatly aged, is still around and their experiences are near enough for the succeeding generation not to forget.

India is sought by the US because India of 21st century has gained prominence. It dominates the Indian Ocean, vital to US for oil and provides the link between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Besides it sits at the underbelly of China with approaches to its south corners of the Himalayas. Its growing economy, its armed forces with long history of past colonial service from Peking to the Suez and since the largest supplier of troops to UN peacekeeping. It is an English speaking nation with as varying accents as in the US, yet understandable.

It is evident to all that the US is the remaining super power. Those who don’t recognize this, do so at their own peril. India with its history of nonalignment, its preference to negotiate than use force and emphasis on peaceful negotiations entered in a dialogue with US with a purpose. It expects that its interests will be further enhanced by cooperation with the US. A country with a long tradition that expects certain diplomatic courtesies and tact which it will return graciously.

Major General Indar Jit Rikhye (Ret)
Chairman, IVOANA.




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