Nepali people are joining the Russian Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner group as mercenaries, a phenomenon that can be attributed to limited work opportunities in Nepal and a new recruiting policy in India.
Some have even resigned from the Nepal Army. And their attention is focused on the citizenship offered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to foreign warriors.
The Nepalese government was taken off surprise because it has no bilateral treaties with Russia, and the Nepal Embassy in Moscow has claimed that the young people are coming in their “personal” capacity.
Over a dozen Nepali adolescents are being taught in weapon handling and combat. This comes when President Putin passed a decree on May 16, 2023, easing the process of getting Russian citizenship for foreign people who join its forces in this battle, an offer that Nepali youth cannot refuse, given the country’s 11.12 percent unemployment rate.
With Russia suffering huge losses in its self-initiated war against Ukraine, the Kremlin is offering fast-track citizenship to foreigners who sign a year-long contract with the Russian Army in what the Kremlin refers to as a “special military operation.”
To sweeten the bargain, Russia is also granting simplified Russian citizenship to these immigrants’ family members.
“This is a troubling scenario. “Because they went in an individual capacity, the Nepal government is powerless to intervene,” strategic analyst Major General Binoj Basnyat (retired) of the Nepal Army told the EurAsian Times.
“If Nepalese citizens are part of a sovereign nation’s military forces, it has to be part of the government’s foreign policy, or there has to be a Memorandum of Understanding or a treaty with the other country,” he says. In this scenario, no such devices are in place.”
He insisted that the Nepali government solve the issue as soon as possible.
We can live here if we don’t die in a year: Nepalese Youth
Several films of Nepali adolescents joining the Russian Army have appeared on social media sites such as Tiktok, Telegram, and YouTube in recent weeks.
One of the young people to whom the Nepal Press has obtained access is from the country’s Koshi area. He was attending a Russian state institution. His visa was about to run out. He explains that after finishing his education, he had two options: return to Nepal and become unemployed, or join the Russian Army.
There have been tales of Nepalese residents joining the French Legion, but getting into Russia is simpler than getting into Europe. Physical fitness makes it simpler for Nepali youngsters to join the PMC ranks and files.
“We’re learning how to use modern weapons.” Training occurs during the day and, on sometimes, at night. Even during training, the income is about
50,000 Nepalese rupees, plus insurance. Citizenship is also obtainable after one year. “If I don’t die in a year, I’ll live here,” the unidentified Nepali kid from Koshi said.
Another story has emerged of a kid from the Karnali region defecting from the Nepalese Army to join mercenaries in Russia. His military training in his own country also helped him secure a position with the Russian army.
“We are in a mountainous region similar to Nepal.” I’m here with around 200 other foreigners and three Nepalese buddies. We were considering joining the French Army. It took a long time and was tough to reach Europe. “Russia is simple,” the Karnali youth is reported as saying.
The Wagner organization has waived the need of learning Russian. Even English is now sufficient.
Maj Gen Basnyat provides insight into the frustrations of Nepali youth. “After finishing their studies, a large number of young people are leaving for work, but Nepal is unable to absorb them.” “The number of young people leaving for other countries in search of jobs and opportunities has increased,” the report says.
A former Nepal Army officer was also present.
Nepal is a youthful country, according to the International Labour Organization, with 63.7 percent of the total population under the age of 30. The youth unemployment rate is 19.2 percent for those aged 15 to 29. It is expected that around 400,000 young people enter the work field each year.
Furthermore, the bulk of job prospects in the nation are in the informal sector, with terrible working conditions and salaries. As a result, a substantial number of Nepali youth are going abroad.
In Russia, the prospect of obtaining citizenship for not just themselves but also their family members is a deal breaker for these young people.
The Indian Army’s Agnipath initiative harmed the chances of Nepali youth.
The Nepalis are famed for their bravery. As previously reported by the EurAsian Times, no Nepalese Gorkha/ Gurkha will join the Indian Army in 2023. The Communist government of Nepal has decided not to accept the yearly recruitment of 1,300 Gorkhas into the Indian Army.
The Indian Army has shown to be profitable for Nepalese youngsters.
Because the salary is 2.5 times that of the Nepalese Army, and the pension gives economic and social security. The position in the Indian Army also gives Nepalese nationals the opportunity to reside in India.
The problem has been the Indian Army’s recently introduced four-year Agnipath (Fire Warriors) plan. The Indian government has dramatically changed the recruiting method under the new program in order to reduce the increasing pension expense while also making the forces younger and leaner.
The new program comprises recruiting young people, doing some of their training on the job, then retiring three-fourths of the batch after four years without a pension but with a stipend.
“Agnipath has indeed caused issues for India and Nepal.”
would have been preferable without. This new entrance strategy was not included in the three-way agreement. “There has been no discussion about it between the two countries,” Maj Gen Bisnyat stated.
Gorkha, known across the world as the deadliest soldier, has been recruited in both the Indian and British armies since 1815. The Gorkha regiments were established by the British and fought valiantly in different military missions.
Following independence in 1947, the Indian Army kept six regiments of Gorkha troops, while four were transferred to the British Army as part of a tripartite arrangement between India, Nepal, and the United Kingdom.
“There are two major arguments against it. The fact that 75% of recruits return home adds to the unemployment crisis. Additionally, military-trained personnel
Returning can be used by unwanted non-state entities,” the officer noted.
While the two nations work out their political differences, Nepali young caught between unemployment and conflict have opted to risk their lives in order to live better lives.