Litterateurs from the indigenous basket who spewed venom against the recruitment of Nepali youth in the British Army on Sunday have demonstrated that they are caught up in a time warp and devoid of even the elementary principles of reason. To portray in bad light the recruitment of Nepalis in the British Army because it is influencing indigenous literature and to label it as the reason to shun that practice hereafter amounts to calling for a ban on higher studies because the latter is heralding changes in the traditional lifestyle. In labelling the recruitment in the British Army as an ‘injustice’ to the indigenous community, the speakers either did not know what they were saying or were trying to stoke the communal side of an argument without assessing the implications of such an irresponsible public statement.

The concern lies not so much in the speakers’ indifference to unemployment at home, as in the pettiness with which the litterateurs pronounced their fears of the changing literary scene. They forgot that language, literature, lifestyle, history and social etiquettes have been buffeted by the winds of change the world over. Had this not been the case, readers in English literature would have been deprived the pleasure of reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms which draws heavily on his frontline experiences. Or Madhav Ghimiray’s Gauri which the author himself admits is an spontaneous pouring of the grief following his beloved wife’s demise. Experiences consequently shaped literature on a global scale. The speakers simply chose to overlook this process.

To antagonise the Gurkhas by tweaking the literary aspects of recruitment of Nepalis in the British Army is a reflection of the failure to acknowledge that the practice, instead, has been a raw material for many a literary masterpiece. One need not look further than the late Jhalakman Gandharva, himself a member of a marginalised community, who immortalised a Lahure’s predicament through a popular musical number. The suffering of the Gurkhas is a stuff that has more literary edge than that of the kitsch being produced in the name of literature. It is not fair to infringe upon another person’s right to try to protect his or her own. Beyond literature, it would be an understatement to say British Gurkhas are a financial lifeline to a large section of the Nepalis at home.