India is proud of Gurkha soldiers, ex-servicemen: Mukherjee

Kathmandu, Nov 4 (IANS) Visiting President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said the Indian government and the Indian Army were proud of their Gurkha soldiers and ex-servicemen.

“I, on behalf of the government of India, assure you that our government will never step back in its efforts for the welfare of its ex-servicemen,” he said in Pokhara while addressing over 10,000 Indian ex-servicemen at the Pension Paying Office.

Thousands of ex-servicemen live in Pokhara, a scenic Nepali city know as the city of lakes.

“It is a matter of pride that the brave Gurkhas have been serving in India for the last 200 years with exemplary courage and sincerity. They have earned a name for themselves in the Indian Army,” he said.

Mukherjee recalled the valour and courage of the Gurkhas who had earned worldwide recognition for their loyalty and military prowess.

Giving current figures, he said 32,000 Gurkhas were serving in the Indian Army and around 126,000 ex-servicemen and their dependents were drawing pension in Nepal.

Hailing the ex-servicemen’s contribution in nurturing the Nepal-India ties, the President said they were the foundational pillars of the India-Nepal friendship.

“Since ancient times, the relations between India and Nepal have been based on multi-faceted social and cultural contacts. People of both countries can visit each other freely due to open Border and Friendship Treaty.”

The army chiefs of both countries were honorary chief of the other army and receive the honorific title once they take over as new chiefs of their respective armies.

These relations have also strengthened the friendship between the two armies, he said.

“Our brave ex-servicemen of both countries have made important contributions to the security and development of the two countries.”

The President reiterated India’s commitment to provide them all benefits and facilities provided to Indian ex-servicemen domiciled in India.

“Being the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army, it is a matter of satisfaction and pride for me that all welfare schemes for ex-servicemen are being implemented in Nepal on time,” he said while announcing an increment in pensions as per the 7th Pay Commission report.

He detailed the Indian government’s welfare schemes for retired armymen.

India spends over Rs 2,000 crore on giving pensions to ex-servicemen in Nepal, which is on an upswing in view of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme and the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations.

The implementation of the OROP and pay panel recommendations will entail giving of 4,000 crore Nepalese rupees to 125,000 Nepal-domiciled Indian Army pensioners.

In addition, 35.90 crore in Nepalese rupees was spent on various welfare schemes in the last financial year.

India has also assisted the ex-servicemen and their families who suffered loss of life and property during the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Mukherjee returns to India on Friday after wrapping his three-day state visit to Nepal on a high note.