Explained: India Nepal Military Ties

Amidst a lot of anti-India statements from Nepal’s prime minister, KP Sharma Oli, we are going to discuss the deep India Nepal military ties. Since the incident when Chinese ambassador to Nepal saved Oli from losing his chair by preventing the split in his party, we have witnessed lots of pro-china, anti-India statements from Oli. Due to these kinds of statements both the counties can lose age-old cooperation between their armed forces

Global Fire power index

  • According to global firepower index India ranks 4th in the world after china and has a population of 135 crore whereas Nepal ranks 122nd after Republic of Congo and has roughly a population of 3 crore. Nepal neither possesses a proper air force nor a navy. Nepal’s army is very small compared to Indian army.

The Gurkha

  • The bonds that bind the two countries are the Gurkha Soldiers. Yes, the legendary Gurkha and his Khukri. Gurkhas are the most important component of India Nepal military ties. Field Marshal once said “if a man says he is not afraid of dying then either he is lying or he is a Gurkha!”. These Gurkha soldiers take birth in Nepal and serve in Indian army as officer or as soldier. This system has a very old history.
The iconic Khukri
  • Even Maharaja Ranjit Singh had some Gurkha soldiers in his army. He knew their tremendous potential of being a fearless, valiant warrior. The British Empire also recognized their potential and capabilities and thus raised the first Gurkha regiment as the ‘Nasiri Regiment’ on 24th April 1815. Over centuries countless Gurkhas had fought for the empire in numerous battles with extreme courage and valour and many of them had made the supreme sacrifices of their lives.

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying then either he is lying or he is a Gurkha!”.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Role of Gurkhas in the World Wars

  • Gurkhas had played significant role in both the world wars. By the time of the first world war, British Empire had raised 10 Gurkha regiments. Gurkhas played key role in second world war. They were recruited from Nepal under British Indian army, and were sent to various frontlines such as western desert, Italy, Greece etc. In second world war 110000 Gurkhas fought for the British empire and 30,000 of them made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. Gurkhas were sent to conquer those challenges which none other than a Gurkha could do. They were assigned the most difficult and dangerous tasks.

“If I had Gurkhas, no army in the world would defeat me”

-Adolf Hitler

Tripartite agreement

  • When India got freedom, a Tripartite agreement was signed among India, Britain and Nepal in 1947. According to this agreement the existing Gurkhas in the British Indian army were divided among Indian army and the British army. In that division Indian army received six out of 10 (1ST King George V’s own Gurkha rifles, 3rd queen Alexandra’s own Gurkha rifles, 4th Prince of Whales own Gurkha rifles, 5th royal Gurkha rifles, 8th and 9th Gurkha rifles) regiments i.e. around one lakh Gurkhas. Several thousand of Gurkhas also went to Britain and served the British army. Other than Britain and India, various other states have offered Gurkhas to join their armies but in limited numbers.
  • According to that Tripartite agreement of 1947, a Gurkha born in Nepal can join British, Indian or Nepalese army. Currently there are 39 battalions serving in 7 Gurkha regiments. 11 Gurkha rifles, the 7th regiment was formed after independence. There are over 40,000 Gurkhas in the Indian army.

These are the modern day regiments

  • 1 Gurkha Rifles – 6 battalions (previously 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment))
  • 3 Gurkha Rifles – 5 battalions (previously 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles)
  • 4 Gurkha Rifles – 5 battalions (previously 4th Prince of Wales’s Own Gurkha Rifles)
  • 5 Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) – 6 battalions (previously 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force))
  • 8 Gurkha Rifles – 6 battalions (In 8 GR the First Battalion is converted into Mechanised Infantry Regiment)
  • 9 Gurkha Rifles – 5 battalions
  • 11 Gurkha Rifles – 7 battalions and one TA battalion (107th Infantry Battalion Territorial Army (11GR) located in Darjeeling, West Bengal) (raised after the independence of India).

An agreement was signed between India and Nepal in 1947 according to which not only Gurkha, but any Nepali citizen can join Indian army both as jawan or officer. As an officer he can join National defence academy, Indian military academy, or officer’s training academy. As a friendly nation, Nepal get training for its military forces from various Indian training establishments.

Moreover, a Nepali citizen serving in the Indian army enjoys the same pay and perks that an Indian citizen enjoys. Indian army also looks after the needs of villages where the retired Gurkha soldiers live. These includes water projects, solar projects etc. At least there are 80,000 retired Nepali Gurkhas who are getting pensions from Indian army. Indian army also supports 17,000 widows of Nepali soldiers. Annually India spends about 12 billion US dollars for the above-mentioned purposes.

Joint Military Exercises

  • Indian Army has organised 13 editions of Joint military exercise Called ‘Surya Kiran’. The last edition, i.e. Surya Kiran XIII was organised in 2018 in Pithoragarh, India. Since 2011 Surya Kiran was being organised at least once every year until K.P oli became Prime Minister of Nepal.

Honorary Posts

  • India and Nepal have such deep ties that Indian army chief gets an honorary title of Chief of Nepalese army and vice versa. Very few countries have such military ties. In India and Nepal, we have deep people to people relations. Such beautiful relations rarely exist.


But when things are beautiful and people are happy, some demons are always there to destroy the beauty and happiness. Nepal is slowly moving towards a totalitarian one-party system under K.P Oli and influence from Communist Party of China. If Oli takes away democracy from Nepal, then India Nepal military ties will be his next target. People of Nepal and India must join hands to prevent this and safeguard their age-old cooperation and friendship. One party, one person cannot break these relations for his own greed and hunger for power. People of Nepal must come forward to eradicate Communist Party of China’s influence in their internal politics to save the beautiful India-Nepal friendship.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

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