From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Gorkha regiment
Mains level : Indian Army
Nepal has postponed the recruitment rallies which were to be held in that country to recruit Gorkha soldiers for the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme.
Why has Nepal postponed Agnipath recruitment rallies?
- Nepal is of the opinion that this new form of entry into the Indian military is not covered under the Tripartite Agreement signed between Nepal, Indian and UK governments in 1947, soon after Indian independence.
- The government feels that the Agnipath scheme must be approved by it and for that political consultations with all parties in Nepal must take place.
- This is move is visibly ‘inspired’ with inputs from China.
What was the Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and UK?
- Soon after Indian Independence on August 15, 1947, an agreement was reached by the governments of India, Nepal and the UK regarding the future of the Gorkha soldiers who were serving in the Indian Army.
- As per the terms of this agreement four regiments of Gorkha soldiers – 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th – were transferred to the British Army while the rest – 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th – remained with the Indian Army.
- A new Gorkha Regiment, the 11th Gorkha Rifles, was raised by India soon after Independence.
- The agreement also provides for the terms and conditions of the Nepal-domiciled Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army and for their post-retirement benefits and pensions.
Significance of Gorkha Soldiers
- Legend has it that Hitler’s very words were, “If I had Gurkhas, no army in the world could defeat me.”
- An interesting historical aspect of Gorkha troops is that Pakistan, at the time of Independence, and China, soon after the 1962 war, had also requested Nepal for Gorkha soldiers.
- However, this request was turned down by the Nepal government.
- The largest body of Gorkha troops serves in the Indian Army while in the UK their presence has been reduced from four regiments to just two.
Can Nepalese Gorkhas in foreign Armies be called mercenaries?
- Mercenaries are understood as fighters who take part in a conflict for financial gain and usually are not parties to that conflict.
- As per the definition of the 1949 Geneva Convention, gives the officially agreed definition of a mercenary.
- It says that soldiers serving in sovereign armies are not considered mercenaries, and Gorkha soldiers cannot be called mercenaries.
- In addition, Gorkha soldiers from Nepal serve side-by-side with Gorkha soldiers who are born and brought up in India.
Have any changes been made in Gorkha unit recruitments over the years?
- There have been attempts to reduce the dependence on Nepal for the Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army,
- To this effect, the composition has increasingly been attempted to be balanced between Indian and Nepal-domiciled troops.
- Also, a pure Indian Gorkha battalion was raised in 2016.
- This unit, 6th Battalion of the 1st Gorkha Rifles (6/1 GR), was raised in Subathu, in Himachal Pradesh.
- Otherwise, the ratio of Nepalese-domiciled soldiers and Indian-domiciled soldiers in a Gorkha battalion ranges from 60:40 to 70:30, though this will change further in future.
- A change was made in the recruitment rules for Gorkha Rifles recently when the Army decided that soldiers hailing from the Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand will also be eligible for serving in Gorkha Rifles.
What is the socio-economic impact on Nepal of Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian Army?
- A major economic and social impact is felt in Nepal due to the Nepal-domiciled Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian Army and much of it has to do with the remittances that they send home.
- Kathmandu receives a sustainable source of remittances from Gorkhas working in foreign armies.
- This has significantly contributed to social modernization in the isolated villages, while the financial remittances spurred entrepreneurship development thereby contributing to regional development.
Why induct Gorkha soldiers?
- Gorkha soldiers are tough. Living in the hills of Nepal makes them strong and resilient and they can stand war, climate and terrain better than most.
- No one can match their swift movement in the mountainous terrain.
- They are cheerful in disposition and nothing disturbs their equanimity.
- They are loyal to the core and fearless in battle.
- All this makes them amongst the best soldiers in the world and they are much sought after.
- Historically, they have deep rooted connection and affinity for India definitely due to cultural assimilations.