Is the government being unfair to Gurkhas?
Nepalese Gurkhas have a long and justifiably proud history of serving alongside Britain – Gurkha units fought with the East India Company in India as early as 1817. Over the years, the Gurkhas have developed a reputation for tenacity, bravery and dogged loyalty to their adopted army.
But when it comes to giving something back once they have finished their military service, Britain has something of a mixed track-record on the Gurkhas and has even been accused of disloyalty.
On Friday, the government announced new guidelines for Gurkhas looking to settle in Britain, including the provision that those who served before 1997 must have done at least 20 years service, must have been mentioned in dispatches and/or suffered injuries during combat if they are to meet the residency requirements.
Campaigners for Gurkha rights have denounced the new guidelines calling them a disgrace and an “act of treachery” against the men, saying only around 100 of the 36, 000 veterans would qualify. The government says campaigners have missed the point, arguing that the new guidelines will allow more Gurkhas — up to 4, 000 — to come and settle in Britain.
It fears that without any restrictions, some 100, 000 Gurkhas and family members would apply to settle and that it would set a precedent for thousands more colonial UK soldiers to apply.
What do you think? Is the government unfairly restricting Gurkha migration and setting up a double standard for those who served before 1997 and those who have served since, or should the soldiers be forced to retire where they come from — Nepal — despite dedicating much of their lives to fighting for Britain?