The Nepali Army has been a symbol of unity and since its establishment has cultivated the spirit of a united Nepal, like no other organ of the state. The Army has maintained its ethos that has proved to be a solid composition for nation building
Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/ THT
Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/ THT
States and armies are inextricably linked. In fact, the army is an institution that predates the creation of modern states. Historical account indicates that the army emerged along with the establishment of organised human communities, mainly with two important needs: To acquire territories and resources and to provide protection from hostile communities. In short, armies were created with the purpose of forming and strengthening communities, and protecting the territorial integrity of a political community. The army has been an integral part of the formation of modern states, and Nepal is no exception. The unification of Nepal by Prithivi Narayan Shah marked the beginning of the “formation” of modern Nepal, and the army’s role was an integral part of that drive. After the unification of the territories, constructing a national identity under a defined system of governance, which unites all the citizens and ensures political stability and viability, was one of the major challenges. The Nepali Army (NA) has stood firm in its resolve to maintain stability and relentlessly supported the transformation and development of Nepal from ‘nation formation’ to ‘nation building’. While our country has seen a lot of transformation in our journey from the monarchy to federalism, the Army’s place and role have always remained respectable and stable. In an ever changing course of nation building, the Nepali Army has always stood strong to preserve the core values and vital interests critical to the nation-state from external and internal challenges. The institutional history of the NA establishes a direct link between modern Nepal and its national territory as invading independent principalities and conquering territories through fortified armed strength was considered a common practice. The “unification” of the Baise Chaubise independent kingdoms and tribal territories that gave birth to the national territory of Nepal during the second half of the 18th century can be considered as the foundation of nation building. The expansion campaign led by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, from his small kingdom of Gorkha in the hills of central Nepal, was not possible without a strong and motivated army. Since the unification itself, the NA has, in the highest spirit of nationalism, stepped forward to face all challenges posed to the nation and has been a pillar of support to the people who look up to it in times of crisis. The Nepali Army has been a symbol of unity and since its establishment has cultivated the spirit of a united Nepal, like no other organ of the state. The Army, in particular, has maintained its ethos that has proved to be a solid composition for nation building and national integration. From national security to building roads, schools, public health facilities, vocational facilities, sporting facilities and provisioning essential supplies, the Nepali Army has been at the forefront of nation building. Amongst some of the most important contributions to the task of nation building has been the untiring efforts of the NA in connecting the far flung areas of the country with the national mainstream. Some examples are the contribution of the NA in building the 105-km Kanti Rajpath, 20-km Kharipati to Nagarkot road, 105-km Trisuli-Somdang road, 88- km Katari to Okhaldhunga road, 86-km Salyan-Musikot road and the 232-km-long Surkhet-Jumla road. Areas which were considered distant and desolate are very much a part of the network of roads created by the NA. The Army has also taken responsibility to construct the 81.8-km Nijgadh to Kathmandu fast track. The fast tract project and other ongoing projects like the 107-km Chhinchu to Jajarkot road, 112-km Jajarkot to Dolpa road, 31-km Devsthal to Chourjahari road, 145-km Musikot to Burtibang road, and the 91-km Nagma to Gamgadhi road require a great deal of focus, resources and disciplined human resource to execute. Domestic contribution aside, the Nepali Army has proudly represented Nepal in the UN-led International Peace Keeping Missions around the globe since 1958 and remains the 5th largest contributor of human resource globally. Its devotion to duty and excellence in executing its responsibility have been widely acclaimed. This has contributed in maintaining a stable and resolute image of Nepal in the international arena. Contribution of the Nepali military to the nation building process is dependent on its quality of leadership. Therefore, a conscious push is needed to attract the right kind of talent and human resource to the armed forces. The military by itself is also in a process of transformation and development along with the rest of the nation. The relationship between officers and other ranks should adjust to change in the socio-economic scenario of the country. The growing levels of education and increasing awareness call for dynamic qualities of leadership and overall management. Only a motivated visionary leadership will be able to help the NA achieve its mission in every role. The NA must emerge as a national symbol that represents the nation’s unique characteristic, which is “unity in diversity” in order to successfully achieve its goals and mission. The military virtues of sacrifice, loyalty and discipline have always remained and must serve as objects of admiration for the rest of the nation.