Nepalis in India’s arsenal
Many of you pulled me aside at a recent diplomatic soirée to ask if it is a coincidence that on the week that Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) announced his candidacy for elections from Gorkha district, the Indian Air Force also unveiled its brand new Light Combat Helicopter ‘Prachand’. My answer to all of you has been a decisive and definitive: “Umm. Maybe.”
There is a precedent for the Indians naming their flying machines after Nepali objects. In the 1960s Air India's Boeing 707s were named after Himalayan mountains like Nanda Devi, Kamet and Trishul. But soon, they ran out of mountains and christened the rest of the 707s after peaks in Nepal: Lhotse, Gauri Shankar, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Everest and Annapurna.
We don’t know if MoFA at the time issued a note verbale (Latin: Diplomatic aide-mémoire filled with expletives) but we suppose not, since there are no historical records of a war breaking out between the two countries at that time.
While naming its new indigenously designed chopper, the Indian Air Force did not, strictly speaking, infringe on the Maoist Supremo’s intellectual property because it cleverly dropped the ‘a’ from Prachanda.
But it obviously wanted to piggy-back on the formidable, fearsome reputation of The Fierce One. They may also have felt ownership of the name ‘Prachanda’ since they had given Comrade Awesome a safe house in Noida for most of the war years.
Be that as it may, this is an opportune moment for MoFA to fire off another note verbale in a generally southerly direction to show that we will not take this blatant plagiarism lying down. We will take it straight in the chin.
It also means no one is safe anymore. The nom de guerre of other Nepali guerrilla commanders could similarly be purloined by DRDO.
Comrade Ram Bahadur Thapa must be extra vigilant, since his war name, Badal, could be the next to be taken to name India's new ICBM.
The name Prachand is quite appropriate for the IAF’s new LCH since, like the protagonist it is named after, the new attack helicopter has a rotor that makes revolutions. It has stealth properties with reduced visual, aural, radar and infrared signatures, which means it can conceal its true intentions, be anywhere and everywhere at the same time, and it is armed to the teeth with misguided missiles.
If the Indian military has hit a writer’s block with nomenclature for its future arsenal, Nepal, could unilaterally offer the following names as a gesture of goodwill for India's new weapons systems:
Indian Army’s new Main Battle Tank: Balen
Indian Air Force’s new Combat Drone: Laldhoj
Indian Navy’s new Submarine: INS Arzoo