THT 10 years ago: Leaving ex-British Gurkhas to cost Nepal dearly

Kathmandu, October 5, 2006

The Gurkhas might have won a longstanding battle for equal rights with their British counterparts as the UK government permits the Indefinite Leave to Entry (ILE) to post-1997 retirees, but it is likely to cost Nepal dearly.

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) records show that British Gurkha pensioners brought in Rs 5.26 billion during fiscal year 2004-05 as remittances.

During the first seven months of the current fiscal year, this figure stands at Rs 3.22 billion. Now with the application of ILE, Nepal stands to lose this significant amount of foreign exchange earnings, as most retirees are likely to opt to stay in the UK.

ILE applies to a Gurkha soldier who has retired after July 1, 1997 after completing four years of service in the British army, making him eligible to live and work in UK. Following the ILE, one can obtain the citizenship of UK after five consecutive years of stay.

Thus, it is unlikely that anyone who opts for ILE would return to Nepal. “Many former Gurkhas working abroad in reputed companies are returning home to apply for ILE.

Quite a few post-1997 retirees living in the country are also queuing up,” said Mahendralal Rai, secretary, Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation.

Koirala, Bhattarai meet; agree on NC-NC (D) unity

Prime Minister and Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala had extensive talks with veteran leader of the party Krishna Prasad Bhattarai this afternoon at the latter’s residence.

The meeting was part of a series of talks between the two leaders on the issue of unification of the NC and the NC (D), amid growing pressure on both from friendly forces.

The two leaders closeted themselves along with two aides, Dr Narayan Khadka and Sharat Singh Bhandari, both of the NC (D), before it was announced that the talks were “fruitful” since the latest exercise had culminated in what is being identified as “principled consensus” on unification.

However, taking to mediapersons outside Bhattarai’s residence, Koirala was cryptic in his reaction and did not react to all the questions. “After discussing the issue of unification I and Kishunji (Bhattarai) have drawn the conclusion that unification of the parties is very much necessary at this crucial juncture,” Koirala said.

He, however, declined to answer queries related to the nitty-gritty such as forming task teams in both the parties, something which NC (D) President Sher Bahadur Deuba has been demanding.

Bhandari told reporters on behalf of Bhattarai that the two leaders had detailed discussions on the need and the possibility of unity and they agreed to take the issue forward rapidly.