The British government’s easing of citizenship rules for the British Gurkhas is tantamount to a recognition of their chequered legacy of sacrifices in safeguarding British interests around the world. Albeit obtained after a lengthy struggle by the Gurkha Army Ex-servicemen’s Organisation, this belated decision of London is, no doubt, a good one. To let all the British Gurkhas who are serving or have served the British Army acquire UK citizenship is a dream come true for many Gurkhas. According to the changed rules, the British Gurkhas stationed abroad will also be eligible for citizenship without having to complete a five-year residency in the UK or three years in case of those married to a British citizen.
Since 1815, the Gurkhas’ commitment to serve the British government, and by extension its people and interests abroad, has been exemplary and acknowledged worldwide, but what the Gurkhas received in return had often been challenged as inadequate. According to the latest agreement — a tripartite deal among Nepal, the UK and India concluded after the Indian independence in 1947 — the Gurkhas are recruited, remained in service and retired as Nepali citizens. However, it seems that the new rules could have been clearer with regard to the eligibility criteria or the cut-off point for the Gurkhas applying for British citizenship. For instance, are the descendants of those who served the British Crown before the Indian independence eligible? Who in the family can tag along or who are the ones not qualified?