India and Nepal enjoy centuries old cultural, ethnic relations, even as they occasionally face ups and downs in their bilateral ties

Locked in a bitter row with China and Pakistan, India has given a boost to diplomatic engagement in neighbouring countries, including Nepal where Chief of Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane is on a three-day visit to strengthen strategic and defence cooperation between the two countries.

On his visit, General Naravane will be conferred with the rank of an honorary General of the Nepali Army by the President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the Indian Army said in a statement.

“The #COAS will be conferred with the honorary rank of General of Nepali Army,” the Indian Army wrote on twitter. Interestingly, in 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind conferred honorary General of Indian Army on Nepal Army Chief Purna Chandra Thapa.

Taking ahead India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy during his visit, General Naravane presented medical equipment for two field hospitals of Nepal Army. The equipment included X-ray machines, ICU ventilators, Video Endoscopy units, anaesthesia machines and ambulances.

This is not the first time that India has presented medical equipment to Nepal. In fact, India has time and again showed its firm support to the neighbouring countries in their fight against COVID-19.

Last month, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, India offered Nepal 41 ambulances and 6 school buses to government and non-profit organizations in 30 districts of the Himalayan country. Not just that, in August too, India gifted the Nepalese Army around 10 portable ICU ventilators to help the country in its fight against the pandemic.

Nevertheless, General Naravane, on November 4, met with Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Vinay Mohan Kwatra and Nepal’s new Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Poudyal. He has been invited to Nepal by the Nepalese Army.

The Indian Embassy in Nepal, later tweeted about the same. It wrote, “Gen. MM Naravane #COAS begins 3-day trip to Nepal today on invitation of the COAS Nepal Army. Lt Gen PR Sharma, Chief of General Staff, Nepal Army received him at TIA Kathmandu this morning.”

Calling the meeting a ‘positive conversation,’ Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that it will help in progressing the Indo-Nepal cooperation.

On twitter, he wrote “Congratulated him on his appointment and held positive conversation on substantively enriching and progressing India-Nepal cooperation.”

The meeting between the officials was also welcomed by the Nepalese side. The Nepalese Army later released a statement about the same saying that such exchanges between the two nations will strengthen the relations between two armies.

It said, “Nepal army believes that exchange of such high-level visits and continuation of tradition helps in strengthening relations between the two armies, contributing to enhanced relationship between the two countries.”

This is the second international visit of the COAS amid COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, he visited Myanmar along with Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, a high-profile visit with focus on enhancement of defence ties and the COVID-19 pandemic.