Is Gurkhas a Mercenary?

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Is the Gurkha a Mercenary?

Gurkhas are people from Nepal, recruited for the British national army, Singapore Police and the Indian Army. They are not hired just to fight war. Different nations have different security and military strategy, for example, the primary purpose of the Gurkhas in the Singapore Police is to act as a neutral or impartial force should there be any racial conflict in Singapore. British Gurkhas and Indian Gurkhas are deployed differently as per their host nation’s military strategy; hence Gurkhas do not fit into any category or the definition given for mercenaries.

As far as the available literature suggests the Gurkha is represented as a mercenary (Chene 1991; Hutt, 1989,) but there is the debate among the Gurkhas on their status. This is very recent phenomenon among the more educated Gurkhas who have access to the definition of the contemporary mercenary. In this respect, Article 47 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, defines mercenary as, “one hired to be directly involved in armed conflict for their own gain” (Protocol, 2005).

The financial incentive must be offered by someone native to the conflict and must be more than what is paid to those they already employ (Protocol, 2005). For example, governmental hiring of a mercenary would involve paying them more than their national military troops (Clever, 2000). The final two qualifications are that the mercenaries cannot be native to the armed forces of the conflicts and on-duty members of another national military (Protocol, 2005).

Another essential definition of the mercenary is that they are paid more than the host national army of the specific country. Oftentimes, Gurkhas are either paid equal or less than their native counterparts. “Gurkhas Justice” is living ethnographic evidence of unequal payment – the primary aim of the Gurkha Justice is to ensure Gurkhas are equally treated with their British counterparts. Gurkhas are duty bound members of the nation...
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