For the third straight time, Nepal has blocked the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army, following India's decision to implement the Agnipath scheme.
India has more than 40,000 Gorkha soldiers, distributed among 43 Gorkha battalions, serving in the Army .
Since the implementation of the Agnipath scheme in June 2022, the Nepal government has blocked the recruitment of Gorkhas, citing a violation of the 1947 Tripartite Agreement signed between Britain, Nepal and India.
The 1947 Tripartite Agreement allows Nepali Gorkha soldiers to serve in the Indian, British and Nepali armies, as long as they do not pose a threat to Nepal's national security.
The new Agnipath scheme, which faced widespread protests, calls for changes in the terms of service for soldiers recruited in the Army.
Under the scheme, only 25 per cent or one-fourth of the soldiers will be given a permanent commission in the Army, after completing their four-year term.
The remaining soldiers will have to leave the service after the expiration of four years. Each soldier will receive a lump-sum amount of around Rs 12 lakh and other benefits.
Since the halting of recruitment following the Covid-19 lockdown, the Army has not recruited any Gorkha soldiers, due to objections raised by the government of Nepal.
In the meantime, about 12,000 Gorkhas have retired from the Indian Army, with no replacements in sight.
Among the 43 battalions under seven Gorkha regiments, approximately 60 per cent of the soldiers are from Nepal, while the remaining are from India.
The Gorkhas are extremely capable mountain warriors. They are considered to be very brave, to the extent that late former chief of the Army staff, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw once said, "If a person says he is not afraid of death, he is either lying or he is a Gorkha!"
Gorkhas have won various accolades and bravery medals, including the Param Vir Chakra.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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