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Monday, March 16

More on "The all-important question of egress" and the Gurkhas (UPDATED March 17)

I can't resist giving this comment from reader Shaunak its own post. See my earlier post, The all-important question of egress, for background:
"The tale about the Gurkhas is true. It's mentioned in fair detail in a book chronicling the history of India's Parachute Brigade.

A battalion of Gurkhas was told about parachuting into the battlefield. Volunteers were called for. A little less than half the battalion volunteered.

The officer was not impressed and clearly told them so, berating them for their lack of bravery.

One of the NCOs stood up and told the officer that he would have got more volunteers but for the fact that they (the Gurkhas) didn't understand how they would be useful as soldiers after jumping out of an airplane and splattering on the ground.

When the concept of the parachute was adequately explained, the entire battalion volunteered in the blink of an eye.

Brave people!

Will post a link if I come across it."
Yes, the Gurkhas are very brave. Imagine: several Gurkhas volunteered even when they thought they'd have to splatter on the ground.

That was a great story to start off the week, in which Americans must endure yet more news items about the courage and sense of duty of our leaders in government, finance, and business.

From Wikipedia's article about the Gurkhas, which the British colonial government categorized as martial:
"Martial Race" was a designation created by officials of British India to describe "races" (peoples) that were thought to be naturally warlike and aggressive in battle, and to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness, the ability to work hard for long periods of time, fighting tenacity and military strategy.
Looking through that list of qualities I'm reminded of Glenn Beck's comment last week that the only U.S. group he trusted was the military. I suspect that many Americans have come to think the same way. That's probably why certain segments in Washington now fear that the military is becoming too much of a role model.

I guess they'd prefer that Americans took bureaucrats and politicians as role models.

Speaking of character issues: the British government, for all the use they found for the Gurkhas, did not treat them all that well when they retired. From the Wikipedia article:
The treatment of Gurkhas and their families has been the subject of controversy in the United Kingdom following revelations that Gurkhas received smaller pensions than their British equivalents.

On 8 March 2007, it was announced by the British Government that all Gurkhas who signed up after July 1, 1997 would receive a pension equivalent to that of their British counterparts. In addition, Gurkhas would, for the first time, be able to transfer to another army unit after five years service to broaden their experience. It was also stated that, for the first time in the history of the Gurkhas, women would be allowed to join - although not in infantry units, in line with general British Army policy.

Despite this, many Gurkhas who had not served long enough to entitle them to a pension faced hardship on their return to Nepal, and some critics have derided the Government's decision to only award the new pension to those joining after 1 July 1997, claiming that this left many ex-Gurkhas still facing a financially uncertain retirement.

A charity, the Gurkha Welfare Trust, provides aid to alleviate hardship and distress among Gurkha ex-servicemen.
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UPDATE
It was a long time ago, so I'm not 100% sure, but I think I read the anecdote in this book - The Story of the Indian Airborne Troops by Maj Gen Afsir Karim. -- Shaunak
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