Inclusion in Nepal Army
Note: This short text is the summary of the discussion program held at Martin Chautari, a research and public forum for discussion based in Kathmandu Nepal, on October 7, 2012 AD. The title was ‘Inclusion in Nepal Army’ (tentative) and based on research fellowship provided by SNV to Rajesh Chamling, who is working as a researcher in SIRF (Social Inclusion Research Fund). The readers are requested not to depend on this text for authentic view on the topic dealt here. This is just an attempt to introduce the topic through my blog www.visitskc.wordpress.com. Further queries can be quenched by asking Mr Chamling himself through email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The subject matter of this research i.e. Nepal Army is a main security institution of Nepal and is often considered a sensitive issue to dealt with because this is often related to national security and most of the information related to such sensitive institutions are considered to be ‘confidential’ so as to avoid any kind of violent consequences. The issue of inclusion has been raised in Nepal Army by Rajesh Chamling through his focus on the Ethnic background of the army officials from lower to upper level in both infantry and technical sections. His research found out that among the total army officials, 19% Janajatis prevails among which majority of them are from Newar community (5% of total Army officials) and the least number of army officials hails from Madhes region. Rajesh Chamling, revealed that both in infantry and technical section of the Nepal Army, Newar community dominated the majority of the positions. According to him, higher HDI and other socio-economic status of the different ethnicities might be the reason behind such gap.
Mr Chamling gave a brief historical background of existence of security institutions based on ethnic identity. He reminded us of Shiekh regiment and Punjab regiment of India and simultaneously Gorkhali regiment of Nepal based on their respective ethnic identities. Gorkhali regiment of Nepal who were sent to British Army during Second world war were dominated by Magar community and according to Mr Chamling Britain later recognized two groups in their regiment for Nepali soldiers coming from East and West based on their ethnicities (for details we have to read the research article).
Mr Chamling gave an account of Prithivi Narayan Shah’s mission of unification and expansion of Nepal where he pointed out that Khas Chhetris were endowed to command the force and that led to the exclusion of other ethnic groups. He pronounced the term like ‘Kali Bahadur Gana’ (Gana means regiment in Nepali language), Bhairav Gana and Ripumardini Gana and these naming of different regiments are based on ethnic identities whose presence has been visible in Nepal Army since modern Nepal.
In the discussion, Mr Chamling pointed out different faulty actions of Nepal Army prevailing at leadership level responsible for exclusion of some ethnicities and heavy dominance of particular ethnic community like Newar. To give examples, in 2016 BS, the minimum qualification for recruitment was leveled to SLC level from Intermediate level because in those time Intermediate graduates were very hard to find and for the convenience of Army officials handling the upper position, they changed their policy simply to recruit people of their own ethnicities or hailing from their own home town. For example one renowned army official (……Shumsher Rana) who is originally from Sindhupalchownk district had promised to recruit one son from each family of Sindhupalchonk districts who were closer to him or his home location. Such arbitrary selection and recruitment of the army officials created heavy dominance of one and exclusion of other ethnic people in Nepal, as said by Mr Chamling. Similar anomalies prevail in the issue of age requirements also.
According to Chamling, the inclusion in Nepal Army should be taken seriously unless it harms the capability of the institution. He asserted that the leadership level of NA army should be inclusive enough to spread the wave of inclusion on the whole institution and they should stick to consistent policies of recruitment and promotion instead of arbitrary policies based on conveniences and nepotism.
My feedback to him:
You findings showed that in Nepal Army, Newar community’s dominance is there and Madhesis were far excluded. You have given reasons like Higher HDI and other historical reasons behind such exclusion but I believe that HDI doesn’t explain the whole scenario. HDI just consider the economic, education and life expectancy aspect of population while to explain why Madhesis were excluded, your analysis should considered the role of Madhes movement of 2006 and it positive/negative/neutral role in strengthening the existence of Madhes in Nepal Army. How does political representation (which is not explained by HDI indicator) affect the presence of some particular ethnic people in Nepal Army or any other institutions?
(I wasn’t sure whether my question was valid !!!)
P.S: Discussion summary by Shekhar KC can be reached at email@example.com