Monday, 18 May 2009

"Ayo Gurkhali"

The Gurkhas are topical - so perhaps a few words are appropriate.

The "Ayo Gurkhali" title means, "the Gurkhas are coming" and is part of the Gurkha warcry, and curiously apt since it seems the Gurkhas want to come and live in the UK. The complete "cry" is: "Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gurkhali" which translates as, "Glory be to the Goddess of War, here come the Gurkhas!"

In fact all post-1997 Gurkas are allowed to live in the UK since our one remaining Gurkha regiment is based here. Prior to 1997 they were based in Hong Kong and did not have right of abode in the UK.

The Gurkhas have a special place in British hearts and their demand to live here, lead by their champion Joanna Lumley, has been very popular, and the government very unpopular for opposing it.

However, let's be dispassionate about this. The Gurkhas, orginally from Nepal, are mercenaries: they fight for several nations including the UK, India, Malaysia and even the US navy employs a few. No-one doubts that those few Gurkhas enlisted in the British army develop a strong loyality to the British nation and crown. This loyalty can make British people sentimental towards them; we feel an innate urge to reciprocate.

Gurkha soliders receive a pension which assumes that around age 35 they will leave the army and retire to Nepal. It is extremely generous by Nepalise standards although it would be inadequate in the UK.

The Gurkhas knew the deal when they enlisted and should not expect a more favourable deal now. That said, anyone who has risked his life in the defence of Great Britain is owed a debt of honour by the nation.

This means, ironically, that the government's position that those Gurkhas injured or decorated for bravery during their service may settle in the UK but the others should retire to Nepal seems reasonable.

Probably the best way for the government to deal with the Joanna Lumley "problem" would be to recruit Diana Rigg - she was a better "avenger" anyway!


Bertie Humbug's Ranto-O-Matic said...

Good to see an alternative view on this. Like you said they're mercenaries and they knew the deal. Its not like the French Foreign Legion where I believe getting a passport at the end of your service IS part of the deal.

Anonymous said...

I knew someone who worked for the Foreign Office at the time of the Falklands invasion and one of the protests that the Argies made to the United Nations was that Britain was employing mercenaries (the Gurkhas) in violation of some treaty or something. The Foreign Office said the Gurkhas were not mercenaries as they had sworn an oath to the Crown.