The almost two centuries-old unique tradition of Nepali citizens serving in foreign armies as the “brave” Gurkha soldiers (also called Gorkha soldiers) and laying down their lives in numerous wars may soon come to an end if the current Maoist-led government has its way.
The government has directed Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and other concerned ministries to implement the suggestions made by a controversial report on foreign policy that seeks to make Gurkha recruitments in British and Indian armies a thing of the past.
The report was unanimously endorsed by the Parliamentary Committee for International Relations and Human Rights of Nepal on December 26, 2011 and later presented before the Legislature Parliament.
According to reports, the Prime Minister’s Office had sent separate letters to various ministries on March 9 clearly instructing them to implement recommendations made by the report (‘Nepal’s Foreign Policy in Changed Context- 2068 B.S’) to stop Nepali citizens from being recruited for fighting wars under foreign flags.
“Gurkha recruitment gave the (Nepali) youth a small opportunity for employment, but serving foreign military powers has not always allowed the country to hold its head high…Since, ultimately, Gurkha recruitment will have to end, it is necessary to create alternatives,” the report recommended.
"Nepal´s government is put on further loss after the Britain decided to provide citizenship to Gurkha soldiers, and the time has come to evaluate Nepal´s foreign policy in regards to Gurkha recruitment," added the report.
Currently, the strength of Gurkhas in the British army is about 3,800. However, Britain has already announced it would axe 400 of these jobs as part of defense cuts. Meanwhile, India, whose yearly recruitment ranges between 2,500 and 3,000 men, presently maintains 39 battalions in seven Gorkha regiments numbering more than 30,000 men.
The first Gurkha regiment, Nausiri Battalion, was formed in 1815 by the East India Company after the British were impressed with the bravery of Nepali soldiers during the 1814-16 Anglo-Nepal war. Later. the British Army also started enlisting them.
Since then, the Gurkhas have fought bravely (and with distinction) for British and later for Indian causes in numerous wars.