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Thread: British Gurkha's: what is the position?

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    Council Member Wargames Mark's Avatar
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    Default Ghurkas and Surviving Family in UK

    Moderator's Note

    The first posts are from an old thread, which has been merged into an RFI posed in November 2011 and so may appears slightly out of order. The RFI was:
    I heard some scuttle that they guys were being treated shabbily by the UK with regards to pensions/retirements and options for citizenship. And also that the Gurkha program has ended. Any truth to this?

    A news story I think is worthy of note.

    Not being British, this is outside of my realm, but it seems like something that deserves some attention.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-02-2011 at 09:24 AM. Reason: Add note after merging threads
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    The Gurkhas are not British citizens. They are recruited in Nepal under the Britian-India-Nepal Tripartite Agreement of 1947 and remain Nepalese citizens throught their term of service. On discharge they are given the option of staying in Britian or returning to Nepal under the revised 2007 agreement (previously they were required to return to Nepal) but remain Nepalese citizens. I personally have mixed feelings about the Gurkhas and about allowing foreign nationals (whether Commonwealth or not, whatever that means in the 21st Century) to enlist. I know the US is also considering permitting foreigners to sign up in return for citizenship after successful completion of service (assuming they survive!). And questions have been raised in connexion (sorry, old fashioned spelling there) between citizenship, the nation-in-arms and mercenaries (which is what such behaviour ultimately equates). There is a moral and ethical relationship between the people, the government that represents them and the army (drawn from "the people") who protect them (think Clausewitz's Trinity); the citizen's army forms part of the bond or social contract between ruler and ruled. Let us remember Burke

    "Men are not tied to one another by papers and seals ..."

    The British armed forces merely become a covert immigration and social security net for impoverished Nepalese (while encouraging a "mercenary" mentality) who would be best placed serving their own country (which itself would be best placed addressing social, economic and sectarian issues). The idea that (according to the Mirror article) the Gurkha in questions bravely "served his Queen and country" is nonsense unless we are talking in commonwealth terms (in which case I was unaware that the Biritsh Army defended Nepal as well as the UK). He has my sympathies but IMO (and IMO only) I think its time we (the UK) abandoned that particular "peculiar institution".
    Last edited by Tukhachevskii; 11-26-2009 at 10:58 AM. Reason: Addendum and general linguistic house-keeping

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Call Joanna!

    The capacity of the UK MoD and other rule-following agencies i.e. immigration to "shoot themselves in the foot" once again. Given the disaster for the government over Ghurka policy earlier in 2009, this case may get Joanna Lumley's attention. Rules are rules and exceptions weaken rules.

    Incidentally a British Ghurkha officer joined SWC recently, perhaps he can comment?
    davidbfpo

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    Default The UKs decision does not help Nepal

    I think that in this case the agreement has always been clear and was designed so that BOTH UK and Nepal benefit. The UK would have a source of additional soldiers and Nepal would benefit in kind in many ways, but crucially one of which would be returning Gurkhas. Having large numbers of ex-soldiers returning with training, experience, language skills, trades, and money, there would be considerable benefit to Nepal as a State.

    By allowing them to stay in the UK the popular perception is that we have helped them as individuals. That is correct, but we jeopardise the long term relationship with Nepal by not providing an enduring return for their investment.
    Eagle

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    Council Member Misifus's Avatar
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    Default British Gurkha's: what is the position?

    I heard some scuttle that they guys were being treated shabbily by the UK with regards to pensions/retirements and options for citizenship. And also that the Gurkha program has ended. Any truth to this?

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default British Gurkha's: what is the position?

    Created to facilitate a member's RFI (which soon appear first).
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Gurkhas serving in British Army

    Quote Originally Posted by Misifus View Post
    I heard some scuttle that they guys were being treated shabbily by the UK with regards to pensions/retirements and options for citizenship. And also that the Gurkha program has ended. Any truth to this?
    You are out of date.

    In 2008 a campaign started to recognise the contribution of the Gurkha soldiers in British service after their retirement, it took off when an actress Joanna Lumley took up their cause and as HMG learnt to its cost she was indomitable:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8061342.stm

    The UK then made a decision to allow Gurkhas and families to stay in the UK upon retirement. That is not without controversy as they have congregated in a few places:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-15712930

    To learn more on the campaign search on the BBC News website with Joanna Lumley as the search name.

    Who are the Gurkhas?http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10782099

    The size of the Gurkha contingent has shrunk a lot in the last fifteen years, principally after the UK left Hong Kong in 1997 and the last IISS figure was 3,500. Two infantry battalions, one in Brunei (rented to the Sultan) and one in the UK; plus several support companies and hundreds "beefing" up other units.

    Note the Indian Army has ten times the number of UK Gurkhas (unable to readily find a number).
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Misifus's Avatar
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    Thanks! Good info. Nice to know these men are still appreciated.

    But I don't consider myself out of date when I am asking. I would only consider myself out of date if I am proclaiming.

    I had met with a UK lady named Lillian Wong, who works the Africa Desk in the UK. This was in Luanda. She mentioned that some Gurkhas were soon to arrive to take her over to the embassy. In that conversation she told me about their plight and that the program would be ending. That's why I asked when I saw the subject header here. The two I met were very gentlemanly soldiers and it was nice to finally meet some from this legendary caste of soldier.

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misifus View Post
    I heard some scuttle that they guys were being treated shabbily by the UK with regards to pensions/retirements and options for citizenship. And also that the Gurkha program has ended. Any truth to this?
    The Gurkhas were historically never part of the British Army, they served in the Indian Army. On Indian Independence some of the Gurkha battalions were brought into the British Army, however the deal that was struck was that they served under the same terms and conditions of service (TACOS) as the Indian Army battalions.

    Despite serving under the same basic TACOS as the Indian Battalions conditions of service were generally better in the British battalions and their take home pay was greater due to various allowances they received. Although poorly paid by British standards they were extremely well paid by Nepali standards.

    The various Gurkha welfare organisations launched a campaign, adopted by Joanna Lumley (UK media star) for parity in Gurkha TACOS with British soldiers and the right to abode in the UK. This campaign was successful and had the precise effect that the UK Army suspected it would have:

    • Increased social problems in the UK as Gurkha families settle in the UK
    • Lessening of the inflow of capital into Nepal as Gurkhas choose to bring families into the UK and retired Gurkhas move to the UK rather then take their pensions and settle in Nepal.
    • Bringing Gurkha soldiers TACOS in line with UK soldiers has caused manning and career management issues leading to redundancies.
    • AT a time of a shrinking Army it is hard to justify maintaining Gurkha battalions when we are losing British battalions; Gurkhas are no longer the cheaper option.


    I have served with Gurkhas, they are great, but like all soldiers have their strengths and their weaknesses. I can amplify on any of the points above, but my feeling is that the change to the Gurkha system has severely threatened their long term viability in the British Army.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Council Member Misifus's Avatar
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    Red Rat,

    Thanks for the reply. I was under the impression that Nepal itself was prohibiting their citizens from voluntarily becoming Ghurkas and that this was part of the genesis on why Ghurkas wanted to become UK citizens instead of going home. Is this true?

    Thanks again,

    M

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misifus View Post
    Red Rat,

    Thanks for the reply. I was under the impression that Nepal itself was prohibiting their citizens from voluntarily becoming Ghurkas and that this was part of the genesis on why Ghurkas wanted to become UK citizens instead of going home. Is this true?

    Thanks again,

    M
    That is not an issue that I am aware of. By and large the Maoist insurgency appears not to have affected the traditional British Gurkha recruiting areas. The current Nepalese Government I suspect would be keen to keep the Gurkha remittences flowing in to Nepal; although the fact that many Gurkhas are now opting to settle with their families in the UK means that the Nepalese Government may be less inclined to support Gurkha recruitment in the future.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post

    Note the Indian Army has ten times the number of UK Gurkhas (unable to readily find a number).
    1 Gorkha Rifles 5 battalions (previously 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment)).
    3 Gorkha Rifles 5 battalions (previously 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles).
    4 Gorkha Rifles 5 battalions (previously 4th Prince of Wales's Own Gurkha Rifles).
    5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) 6 battalions (previously 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force)).
    8 Gorkha Rifles 6 battalions.
    9 Gorkha Rifles 6 battalions.
    11 Gorkha Rifles 7 battalions and one TA battalion (107 Inf Bn (11GR) (raised after the independence of India).

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    The Tripartite Agreement on the Indian Independence is what governed the division of the Gorkha Regt between India and the UK.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurkha

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