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Archive for April 9th, 2009

Time Magazine: On the Politics of Gurkhas & Revolution

Posted by Mike E on April 9, 2009

A brigade of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers 2008 in Afghanistan's Helmand province

A brigade of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers 2008 in Afghanistan's Helmand province

The following recent piece from Time magazine gives a sense of the politics over Gurkha recruitment on the ground in Nepal — suggesting Maoist determination to end the practice, but a decision not to put the controversial issue in the forefront during the current conflict and transition. (Thanks to Shinethepath for forwarding the article).

“….rebel leader turned Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has openly expressed his antipathy for the practice of young Nepalese men serving in foreign armies as mercenaries for hire. Once in office, he announced that he would discontinue Gurkha recruitments, an undignified and degrading legacy in his eyes.

It was an unpopular opinion. The job is a popular and lucrative post in a country where unemployment hovers around 42%, and his announcement spurred vehement street protests late last year from old, new and future Gurkha recruits. Dahal promptly reneged, announcing in a February meeting with a visiting delegation of British parliamentarians that the recruitment of Nepali men into their forces had bolstered ties between the two nations, and that he was not in favor of stopping recruitments. But behind closed doors, Nepalese officials still squirm at the thought of their countrymen being paid for fighting another nation’s war. “This is an obnoxious practice,” said one official from Nepal’s Foreign Ministry, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press. “Nepal will find ways provide employment within our country.”

for the full piece>

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Video: Naxalite Slideshow

Posted by Mike E on April 9, 2009

Thanks to Naxalite Maoist India blog. Score by Asian Dub Foundation.

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Open Attacks on the Nepali Maoists: Taking a Stand

Posted by Mike E on April 9, 2009


By Mike Ely

Jej writes on the core issue raised by an open protest letter of an Afghanistani left grouping:

“it appears that the Nepalese Communists have decided not to end the practice of recruiting Ghurkas into the British military.

Well, they may have decided not to push it right now (before they have state power). but it is clear (throughout their whole history) that they intend to end unequal treaties, foreign domination, and vestiges of colonialism in their country.

I do not know what their short-term plans are for this mercenary tradition of British colonialism — and I don’t know the internal political polarization among Nepali people is (on that particular issue). But that just underscores my main point — which is to be cautious about simplistic verdicts concerning complex and rapidly moving events.

On this I agree with Jej:

” …the politics behind the situation is by no means clear or easy to understand. There are probably many internal difficulties as well as external difficulties relating to the question of Ghurkas in Nepal. It is almost definitely complex in a way that we do not understand without deeper knowledge of the Ghurka nationality, its history, and the contemporary situation.”


The Gurkha recruitment was often the only way out of the hill country for people of this nationality. It has been one of the major ways the outside world was explored by Nepalis, and one of the major ways that knowledge of the outside world entered Nepal (from the worldly veterans of the British army returning home). And it has been a major source of income in one of the world most impoverished corners. It is an ugly mercenary tradition imposed on Nepal by British colonialism — but abolishing it will be a process taken up as Nepal’s revolution wins victory and consolidates.

The idea that the Maoists “must” take up the prohibition of this colonialist tradition now, before seizing power is something that can’t be asserted without precisely the kind of political knowledge and analysis that the Maoists themselves are making. And that just makes me oppose the core of this Afghani letter: linking a public denunciation of the Maoists with an open call for the splitting of their party.

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