India’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Manoj Pande is set to call on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Tuesday afternoon—the meeting capping his four-day visit to Nepal.
A visit that was high on optics, Gen. Pande was conferred the title of honorary general of the Nepali Army by Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari amid a special function held at Sheetal Niwas, the Presidential Palace, on Monday.
Prime Minister Deuba, senior Nepali officials and Indian diplomats were present during the investiture ceremony. Gen. Pande was also presented a sword and scroll by the Nepali president on the occasion.
The tradition follows a seven-decade old tradition of decorating army chiefs of each other’s country with the honorary title. Commander-in-Chief General KM Cariappa was the first Indian Army chief to be decorated with the title back in 1950.
In November last year, Nepali Army Chief General Prabhu Ram Sharma was conferred the title of honorary general of the Indian Army by former President of India Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in the Indian capital New Delhi.
Following the ceremony, Gen. Pande called on the President Bhandari. During the call on, Gen. Pande conveyed his gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him, according to a statement issued by Embassy of India in Kathmandu.
Tika Prasad Dhakal, a press advisor to the Nepali President, said that President Bhandari was delighted to confer the title of honorary general of the Nepali Army on the Indian Army general.
“The tradition of decorating army chiefs of each other’s country with the honorary title is very unique. Although it is a customary practice, it has been contributing to promote multifaceted ties between the two close neighbours and their militaries as well,” Dhakal told India Narrative on Monday evening.
Gen. Pande is on a five-day official visit at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart Prabhuram Sharma since Sunday evening. His official engagements began earlier this morning by laying a wreath and paying homage at Bir Smarak (martyr’s memorial) at the Nepal Army Pavilion in Tundikhel, Kathmandu.
The Indian Army general visited the Nepali Army headquarters where he was accorded a ceremonial guard of honor.
Gen. Pande also held a delegation level talks with his Nepali counterpart General Prabhu Ram Sharma, during which the two sides discussed about strengthening long standing army-army relations.
“They exchanged views on issues of mutual interests and discussed measures to further strengthen the existing bond of friendship and cooperation between the two armies,” a readout from the Nepal Army headquarters said. Senior officers of the Nepali Army also gave a comprehensive briefing to Gen. Pande.
After the meeting between the two army chiefs, Gen. Pande handed over medical equipment, mine protective vehicles (MPVs)-10, horses (stallions)-4, maintenance and spare equipment as agreed during a recent meeting of the Nepal-India Bilateral Consultative Group on Security Issues (BCGSI).
The equipment provided on behalf of the Indian government would augment capabilities of Nepali Army personnel.
Also in the evening, Nepal Army chief Sharma hosted a banquet in honor of General Pande and the visiting Indian military delegation.
Observers have said that the Indian Army chief’s ongoing visit to Nepal is significant for both the nations. “The visit expresses the traditional bond, which is even more imp in the new geostrategic environment. Politician decisions in some occasion has lowered relationship, but the military- to- military relationship has always remained strong and unhindered,” Binoj Basnyat, a retired major general of the Nepali Army, told India Narrative.
Earlier on Tuesday, Gen. Pande interacted with the student officers of Army Command and Staff College at Shivapuri in the capital. Prior to that, he took a mountain flight at Namche area on the surroundings of Mt. Everest.