Hundreds of men apply to join the British army

Hundreds of men apply to join the British army

 

utside a recruiting centre in Pokhara, Central Nepal, hundreds of young men file in for the final selectoral process for entry into the British army.  It takes months - from basic literacy tests to the ability to race up a mountain with 35kg of rocks strapped on their backs. 

 

It was over a 180 years ago that the British army decided it couldn't defeat these men in battle and so started to recruit them instead. The Gurkha Regiment is one of the most decorated in the British army and one of its most valuable assets.  But the unquestioning loyalty and devotion of the British Gurkha can no longer be taken for granted.  As so often in relations between wealthier countries and the developing world, even here there have been allegations of exploitation.

 

 

 

Protest

 

Demonstrations by angry Gurkha veterans have become commonplace in the Nepali capital Kathmandu.  The Gurkhas argue that they have sacrificed their lives for long enough but they do not get the same benefits as other British soldiers.  The British say these are trouble makers, encouraged by the local communist party.  With the cost of living an estimated 170 a year in Nepal, they argue, these men are amply rewarded.  At the lowest level, pensions have recently been doubled to 750 a year.

 

 

 

But, encouraged by the way British tabloid newspapers have taken up their cause, the Gurkha veterans' organisation want more.  Free education and guaranteed jobs for their children, right of abode in the UK and pensions equal to a British soldier.