Kathmandu, Sep 5: President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari on Monday conferred the Honorary Rank of General of the Nepal Army to Gen. Manoj Pande, chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army.
The President at the Shital Niwas, the official residence of Bhandari, conferred the honorary rank — a long tradition of exchange of visits by the army chiefs of Nepal and India and conferring the title of honorary General to both the army chiefs — during a special ceremony here.
The tradition started in 1950. India also confers the honorary rank of “General of Indian Army” to the Nepal Army Chief.
Gen. Pande arrived here on Sunday on a five-day official visit during which he will hold extensive talks with the country’s top civil and military leadership and bolster defence ties between the two neighbouring countries.
The Indian Army chief also received the Guard of Honour at the Army headquarters on Monday.
“General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army handed over various non-lethal military items to General Prabhu Ram Sharma, Chief of the Army Staff, Nepali Army,” the Nepal Army said in a tweet.
Gen Pande, who also held a bilateral meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Gen. Prabhu Ram Sharma at the Army Headquarters, handed over non-lethal equipment and items, including four horses, 10 MPV (mine protective vehicles), and some medical equipment, according to Nepal Army headquarters sources.
The total amount of assistance is equivalent to NRs. 223.8 million (USD 17,51,821.36).
This is a special subsidy provided by the Indian Army, which includes 60 per cent grant assistance, said Nepal Army sources.
“General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army pays homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the Martyr’s Memorial in the Army Pavilion,” the Nepali Army said in another tweet.
Gen Pande, who took charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff on April 30 after Gen MM Naravane retired from service, will call on Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Tuesday, apart from meeting with the senior military and civilian leaders of the Himalayan nation.
The issue of induction of Gorkhas from Nepal into the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme is also likely to figure in Gen Pande’s talks in Kathmandu, which reportedly conveyed to New Delhi that the recruitment under the new scheme does not conform to existing provisions for it.
Gen Pande will leave Kathmandu for New Delhi on September 8.
Nepali Army believes the exchange of such high-level visits and continuation of tradition helps in strengthening relations between the two militaries and the two countries,” said a press release issued by Nepal Army on Sunday.
Archana Pande, the chairperson of the Army Wives Welfare Association of the Indian army, is accompanying Gen Pande.
Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.
The country shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services. (PTI)