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4th May 2023 (8 Topics)

China ‘Keen’ to Recruit Gurkha Soldiers into PLA

Context

Communist China, which has long been intrigued by the motivation behind Nepalese youth joining the Indian Army, may seek the Communist government in Nepal to allow the Gurkhas to join the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Who are Gurkhas?

  • Gurkhas are the Nepali Soldiers that form a significant part of the Indian Army’s legendary Gurkha regiment.
  • They come from four main communities of Magar, Gurung, Rai and Limbu.
  • Pre-Independence: The first battalion of the Gurkha Regiment by British India as the Nasiri regiment in 1815. 
    • The Gurkhas had served under the East India Company’s army and the British Indian Army. The Gurkhas were first recruited by East India company after suffering heavy casualties during the Anglo-Nepalese War or the Gurkha War. The peace was maintained by the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.
    • The Nepali Gurkhas played a crucial role in the consolidation of the British Empire in India. They fought during the Gurkha-Sikh War, Anglo-Sikh wars, and the Afghan wars.
  • Post-Independence: After India gained independence, a Tripartite Agreement (Britain–India–Nepal) was signed by which the regiments were split between the Indian armies and the British.
    • Currently, Gorkha regiments make up Indian Army’s 43 Battalions with soldiers from both Nepal and India in seven Gorkha regiments – 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and the 11th.

Their signature weapon of Gurkhas, Khukri, forms part of the Gurkha regimental insignia in Britain and India as well. The khukri is a traditional multipurpose knife of the Nepalese people used for regular cutting, clearing, chopping firewood, digging, slaughtering animals for food etc.

Gorkha pullout 

  • Gorkhas are some of the best fighters in the world, however, the newly introduced Agnipath Scheme threatens to break this arrangement.
  • Nepal urged India to suspend the recruitment of Gorkhas to the Indian Army under this new plan.

Agnipath is a tour of duty scheme introduced by India in June 2022 for recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces. All recruits will be hired for a four-year period.

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