China Wants To Know Why Nepal’s Young Men Are Joining Indian Army

  • The diplomatic row between India and Nepal seems to have prompted China to commission a study in Nepal on why the youth from the Himalayan nation is lured to join the Indian Army.
  • Intelligence reports suggest China has funded Rs 12.7 lakh (Nepali currency) study to understand the age-old tradition of young boys joining the Indian Army. Those observing developments in India say this is a first-of-its-kind study by China to exert its influence.
  • The development took place in June soon after the India-China military tussle started in May in Ladakh which also coincided with the strained diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Kathmandu, triggered by India’s road construction on the India-Nepal-Tibet trijunction at 17,000 feet in Uttarakhand’s Lipulekh area.
  • The China Study Centre in Nepal has been given the task for the study, sources said. An intelligence report points out that the task is to address reasons for Nepalese joining the Indian Army, identify specific areas of Nepal from where recruits come, social and economic impact of them joining.
  • “The China Study Centre is possibly used more for intelligence gathering than any other purpose funded by the Chinese,” says Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd), a former Director-General of Military Operations.
  • He adds that this study won’t have an impact on the military bond between India and China.
  • There are currently 28,000 soldiers from Nepal in the seven Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army. These regiments have 39 battalions with a 50-60 percent representation from Nepal.
  • “On an average close to 2,000 Nepalese youth join the Indian Army every year,” said an official.
  • Originally, there are 11 Gorkha regiments, of which four went to the British Army post-Independence. India has 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th regiments of the Gurkha Rifles.

India-Nepal diplomatic row

  • A new strategic 80km road connecting to the Lipulekh Pass at 17,000 feet on the India-Nepal-China trijunction makes travel to Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims smoother and also aid troops serving at the Line of Actual Control on the India-China frontier.
Indian Army
  • This triggered a diplomatic row between Indian and Nepal raising questions and protesting against the construction.
  • The timing of the study is interesting as it was commissioned in June amid the strained relations between Indian and Nepal and the military flare-up in Ladakh.
  • The standoff between Indian and Chinese armies is now more than three months old and there are still no signs of the deadlock ends.
  • Former Northern Army Commander Lt DS Hooda, who has been a Gurkha officer himself, sees this as an “attempt by China to fish in troubled waters”, referring to the current relations between India and Nepal. However, he is confident that it will not have an impact on Gurkhas from Nepal joining the Indian Army.
  • “Soldiers don’t fight for political ideologies but military ethic,” he says.
  • He says no matter what the circumstances the loyalty of Gurkha soldiers towards the Indian Army can never be doubted.
  • “There are so many ex-servicemen in Nepal who are well-off in villages and who enjoy some influence. They have a lifelong bond with their units,” says Lt Gen Hooda.
  • Sources say there were close to 1,30,000 former Indian army personnel living in their homes in Nepal.
  • Indian Army Chief Gen MM Naravane had earlier hinted at China’s role in pushing Nepal to protest against India’s road construction at Lipulekh Pass. “There is reason to believe that they must have raised these problems, these issues at the behest of someone else. That is very much a possibility,” the army chief had said.

Girish Chandra

Army Brat, Spiritual, Defence Enthusiast, Passionate teacher, B.Tech in Automobile Engineering, Cleared AFCAT & CDS

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