India To Continue To Recruit Gorkha soldiers under the Agnipath Scheme

India has made it clear that it will continue the recruitment of Nepalese youth under the Agnipath Scheme

Aug. 27, 2022, 8:55 a.m.

Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson Indian foreign ministry said, “We have been recruiting Gorkha soldiers into the Indian Army for a long time. And we look forward to continuing to recruit Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme,”

A recruitment rally of the Indian Army was planned in Butwal City of the Himalayan country from August 25. A day ago, Nepalese foreign minister Narayan Khadka and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Naveen Srivastava held a meeting to discuss the issues. In the meeting, the Nepalese side informed him to wait on the plan to recruit Nepali youths under the new scheme.

The minister told the ambassador that “if the Nepalese youths are to be recruited for 4-year with no pensions, there is a need to discuss the matter with all political parties in Nepal and build consensus. Till further decision it should be put on hold.”

It was in June that the Indian Government announced the new recruitment scheme under which youths between age 17 and a half and 21 years are to be inducted under Agnipath Scheme for a period of four years with 25 percent getting inducted permanently after it. The rest of the people would not be entitled to pension.

Prior to the introduction of the Agnipath scheme, the Nepalese youths were being recruited under a Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and Britain which was signed in 1947, allowing continued recruitment of Nepalese into the armies of India and Britain.

The Tripartite Treaty called the ‘Memorandum of Agreement on Recruitment of Gorkha Troops’ was signed on May 1, 1947, and ratified on November 9, 1947.

Later in 1950, a Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed between the two countries which reinforced the right of Nepalese citizens to work in India and for equal national treatment.

There was no mention of any terms of engagement or other benefits in the annexure.

A source in the Indian Army said that the Agnipath Scheme is neither violating the Tripartite Agreement nor discriminating anyone. “The Gorkhas would get the same salaries and facilities as what their Indian counterparts would.”

The Indian Army was to hold recruitment rallies in Nepal in two phases between August 25 and September 7 in Butwal and September 18 onwards in Dharan.

At present around 25,000 Nepal Domicile Gorkhas are serving in the Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments in its 43 battalions which are composed of Indian soldiers as well as those recruited from Nepal.

The development has taken place ahead of Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande’s planned five-day official visit to Nepal on September 4. During the visit Gen Pande will be meeting with the country’s top civil and military leadership. Also, it is to carry forward the tradition of the two Armies and General Pande will receive the title of honorary General of Nepal Army to be conferred by President Bidya Devi Bhandari.

As per the tradition the exchange of visits of the army chiefs of Nepal and India takes place to confer the title of honorary General to both the army chiefs.Nepal has requested the Indian Army to postpone the recruitment of Nepalis – which was planned to begin on Thursday – until there is more clarity about the Agnipath tour-of-duty scheme.

Earlier, Nepal has requested the Indian Army to postpone the recruitment of Nepalis – which was planned to begin on Thursday – until there is more clarity about the Agnipath tour-of-duty scheme.

Foreign minister Narayan Khadka called Indian ambassador Naveen Srivastava to the ministry and asked him to postpone the plan to recruit Nepali youth – who are drafted into the Indian Army’s Gorkha regiment – under the Agnipath scheme.

Agnipath’s announcement has been controversial in India and several aspirants participated in violent protests against the scheme soon after it was announced in June this year. However, the military has insisted that there will be no rollback of the scheme, under which 75% of recruits will be discharged after four years of service. They will receive a one-time severance payment but no pension.

The Indian Army had plans to recruit Nepalis in the Western city of Butwal on Thursday and the Eastern city of Dharan on September 1. According to My Republica, Nepal foreign minister Khadka told the Indian ambassador that all “political parties in Nepal should have a unanimous view about the Agnipath scheme” and requested India to stop the recruitment until a consensus is reached.

According to the news agency IANS, after Agnipath was announced on June 14, the Indian Army via the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu wrote to Nepal’s foreign ministry and sought approval for recruitment and security support. But the Nepal government failed to communicate to the Indian side whether it will allow the Indian Army to start the recruitment process. Only on Wednesday, one day before the planned recruitment in Butwal, did the Nepal foreign minister ask India to delay the recruitment of Nepali youth.

The newspaper also reported that defence analysts are worried about the social impact of the Agnipath scheme on Nepal. “The social impact on Nepali society must also be considered when young adults trained in warfare and weaponry are sent back to Nepal, rather than spending a full career in the Indian Gorkhas. There is even sociological evidence that such a situation is likely to raise the level of gun-violence and other types of violence in society, as Indian commentators have also suggested,” a retired Nepal Army general said, according to My Republica.

Nepali nationals can be recruited for military services in India and the United Kingdom as per the tripartite treaty signed in 1947. According to Kathmandu Post, around 1,300 Nepalis would have been recruited under the Agnipath scheme this year – far lower than in the previous years. In all, around 40,000 ‘Agniveers’ are expected to be recruited by the three Indian service branches this year.

Reacting to the development, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, ““We have been recruiting Gorkha soldiers to the Indian Army for a long time. We look forward to continuing to recruit Gorkha soldiers to the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme.”

Source: Indian media

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