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Obituary | Arjun Narsingha Rana: A progressive and humble army chief

APEX BUREAU

APEX BUREAU

Obituary | Arjun Narsingha Rana: A progressive and humble army chief

He wanted to modernize the force and with this intent established, first, a taskforce for air service and air defense, and then built a separate army air base

Birth: 8 April 1931, Thamel
Death: 4 April 2021, Chhauni

During the 1950s, education for Nepalis outside Asia was still an abstract dream, even for the elites. So Arjun Narsingha Rana struggled to convince his family to let him pursue his studies in the US. Nonetheless, after joining the Royal Nepali Army, he ended up becoming the first Nepali to complete a US Staff College course.

Regarded as a trendsetter who wanted to reform the then Royal Nepali Army, Rana was responsible for instituting many changes in the institution. The United Nations had started deploying peacekeeping forces to troubled places in the world in 1948. But it was only in 1974 that Nepal expressed its interest to deploy its army on such missions. Under the leadership of the then colonel Rana, (now) Nepal Army sent 571 peacekeepers to UNEF-II in Egypt from the Purano Gorakh Battalion, the first such contingent of UN peacekeeping troops from Nepal.

Gradually, after almost 10 years, in 1983, Rana got promoted to the Chief of Army Staff for a four-year term. Under his leadership the army in 1986 established the Directorate of Military Materials Production and the Directorate of Health Services, with the goals of manufacturing necessaries for the army inside the country and for free treatment of army personnel and families, respectively.

Even now, the Directorate of Military Materials Production oversees Sundarijal Arsenal, Saywambhu Baroodkhana, Multipurpose Garment and Plastic Industry, and Sunachuri Emulsion Plant.

Similarly, in 1986, Rana’s command inaugurated the Directorate of Animal Development and Medicine that supplies to Army Animal Hospital, Soldier Stud Farm Centre and Bhairab Bahan Battalion. It also includes the Training and Animal Selection Guide for veterinary training, animal breeding, diagnosis and treatment of army pets.

Moreover, he wanted to modernize the force and with this intent established, first, a taskforce for air service and air defense, and then built a separate army air base. He also ensured proper combat dress and insurance for every army personnel.

After retirement, Rana served as Nepal’s ambassador to Pakistan (1988-1992).

Rana completed his schooling from Aligadh and Banaras, India and returned to Nepal for his Bachelor degree education at Tri Chandra College. He joined the then Royal Nepal Army as a Second lieutenant in 1952

Rana had been admitted to Birendra Military Hospital, Chhauni when he contracted Covid-19 at the age of 91. He later passed away from pneumonia.

Three years ago, he had lost his wife and only a month ago his only son, Arun Narsingha, to cancer. He is survived by his four daughters and a daughter-in-law.