21 October 2016
A British commander pins medals on Hong Kong-based Gurkhas during colonial times. Photo: Tim I. Gurung.
A British commander pins medals on Hong Kong-based Gurkhas during colonial times. Photo: Tim I. Gurung.

British army should stop recruiting Gurkhas from Nepal

Gurkhas are soldiers from the tiny Himalayan country of Nepal renowned for their unparalleled bravery and unconditional loyalty.

Despite being citizens of Nepal, they have been serving the British Crown since 1815.

Not a single war was fought by Britain during this period in which Gurkhas have not fought or lost their lives.

Their two-centuries-long tradition of service is as strong today as it was in the early 1800s, and it is set to continue for a long time.

Serving in another country’s military while retaining the citizenship of one’s home country is definitely an anomaly.

The Gurkhas have earned their good reputation through sheer bravery, loyalty and endurance of hardship.

But that doesn’t prevent people from taking a cheap shot at them: you don’t need to search hard to find many people on the internet who call them mercenaries.

A person with a pinch of honor and dignity will never accept such a name.

If a person serves you with his sweat, blood and life, he should deserve some respect, and that has long been lacking on the part of the British.

They have been shamefully exploiting the Gurkhas for two centuries — a humiliating slap to the brave Nepali soldiers who have given their unconditional service for so long.

After the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the British colonists had to return home, and only a few thousand Gurkha soldiers, out of more than 10,000, went with them.

The others were mercilessly made redundant and sent back to Nepal with a piffling pension and prematurely halted life.

After launching a well-organized and well-supported campaign for better treatment, the Gurkhas finally won their rights in the mid-2000s and were finally given the right of abode in Britain.

Since then, almost all the ex-British army Gurkha soldiers and their families have migrated to Britain and are living as equal citizens.

The younger generation of Gurkha children can now join the British army at any time, if they want.

They don’t have to come from Nepal any more and can enjoy the same benefits and services as other British soldiers.

So, the continued recruitment of Nepali soldiers for the British army is now redundant.

Britain doesn’t have to go all the way to Nepal to find recruits, and it should stop now, for good.

Getting rid of the outdated system once and for all will also save some embarrassment for the Gurkhas.

It would give some much needed respect and honor to those brave soldiers and bring a good end to a story of gallantry in our time.

The good name of the Gurkhas is to be revered not ridiculed.

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Gurkhas patrol the border between colonial Hong Kong and China (left). Various Gurkha units compete for a trophy awarded to the best company (right). Photos: Tim I. Gurung

EJ Insight contributor

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