NEW DELHI, Sept 4: In continuation of a seven-decades-old tradition, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande will be conferred with the honorary rank of “General of the Nepal Army” by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari at a ceremony in Kathmandu on Monday.
On Sunday, Gen Pande left for Nepal on a five-day visit to discuss with top civil and military brass of the Himalayan nation the avenues for enhancing bilateral defence relations.
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.
The Army said Gen Pande will call on Bhandari, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and will hold wide-ranging talks with Nepal Army Chief Gen Prabhuram Sharma, apart from meeting with the senior military and civilian leaders of the Himalayan nation.
“This visit will provide an opportunity to take stock of the existing bilateral defence ties and strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” the Army said in a statement.
It said Gen Pande will be conferred with the honorary rank of General of Nepal Army on Monday in a ceremony at Sital Nivas, the official residence of Bhandari.
The tradition started in 1950. India also confers the honorary rank of “General of Indian Army” to the Nepal Army Chief. Gen Pande is also scheduled to visit Nepal Army headquarters where he will pay homage to the fallen soldiers and have interactions with the senior leadership of the force.
“During his visit, the Chief of Army Staff will also interact with the student officers and faculty of the Nepali Army Command and Staff College Shivpuri,” the Army said.
The Army Chief is scheduled to call on the Nepalese Prime Minister on Tuesday.
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.
Nepal’s access to the sea is through India, and it imports a predominant proportion of its requirements from and through India.
The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries.
“India-Nepal relations are historic, multifaceted and marked by common cultural and civilisational ties, apart from mutual respect and trust,” the Army said.
“India attaches the highest priority to its relationship with Nepal in accordance with its ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies,” it said. (PTI)