The Narendra Modi government’s flawed approach to military recruitment came under fire from the Congress on Tuesday as reports surfaced that Nepali Gurkhas (now Gorkhas) had enlisted in the Wagner Group, a private militia in Russia that had recently captured the attention of the world by rising up against President Vladimir Putin.

The “disturbing reports” regarding China drawing away Nepali Gurkhas for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were also noted by the Congress.

Jairam Ramesh, the director of communications for the Congress, tweeted that Gurkha warriors are among the best in the world. However, a 200-year-old recruiting procedure was disrupted by the ill-fated Agnipath program, and no Gurkha troops will join the Indian Army in 2023. Gurkhas are now being sought after by private military firms like the Wagner Group, who recently overthrew the Russian government, as a result of this disruption.

Ramesh said, “There are alarming rumours that China is looking to hire Gurkhas, taking advantage of the gap left by Agnipath. The Modi Government is once again squandering political, cultural, and social capital developed over decades and compromising our national security in its foolish and unilateral efforts at “reform.”

The renowned Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army has a sizeable contingent of troops from Nepal. Six Gorkha regiments were transferred to India after Independence although Gorkhas were still a component of the British Army in India. The Indian Army now has seven Gorkha regiments with 47 battalions each.

Numerous Gorkha warriors have received India’s highest honors for valor.

Although some Indian Army generals complained that the lack of Gorkhas would have a negative influence on the Armed Forces, the Modi administration did not contact the Nepal government on the recruitment of Gorkhas when unveiling the Agnipath plan. The government has said that the Agnipath initiative would continue to recruit Gorkhas, although it is unclear whether any special arrangements have been made thus far. Whether Nepal accepts the terms of the Agnipath program also rests on Nepal.

Ramesh’s tweet included a story that stated: “On May 16, Russian officials made it simple to get Russian citizenship after a year of military duty. Since then, hundreds of young people from Nepal have enlisted in the Russian military as contract soldiers. Some of them are ex-Nepal Army veterans. While having Russian citizenship is a huge draw for young people from Nepal, another issue is that the Indian Army no longer recruits them. When the Indian government replaced long-term employment with shorter contracts with no pension last year, relations between Nepal and India deteriorated.

Appeal of Forward Bloc

In a statement released on Tuesday, the All-India Forward Bloc urged the Centre to take a cue from the Wagner operation in Russia and rethink continuing the Agnipath initiative.

According to the party, 46,000 youngsters would be enlisted into the army under Agnipath, and seventy-five percent of them will not have employment or access to social security benefits after four years.

Anyone looking to build a private army similar to the Wagner gang may simply enlist the skilled and unemployed Agniveers, who have an average age of 27, the party said. The country’s interests would suffer as a result, it continued.

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