Nepal on the Move: Conflict, Migration and Stability

Military Migration and Its Social and Political Implications in Nepal

Jens Seeberg and Avash Piya (PhD student)   Retired Gorkha

Objective of sub-study 2

The objectives of this sub-study is to 1) examine the transnational pathways and impact of economic, cultural and social remittances from military migration within the contested ‘Gurkha’ tradition and examine their possible translation into the political domain; and 2) to study the opportunities and aspirations of Gurung youths in relation to ‘Gurkha’ recruitment with focus on transformation of migration pattern over generations.

The dramatic increase in both internal and transnational migration during the recent two decades has added to the depopulation of hill villages. The migration pattern in Pokhara valley involves both a classical rural-urban movement and a ‘triangular’ movement where Pokhara city is not the work destination, but where migrants, e.g. servicemen in the British army, return to Pokhara after a period of high earnings abroad. The recent developments in the UK regarding settlement rights of ex-Gurkhas have added to the complexity of movement in relation to questions of state and sovereignty.

The increased mobility of Nepalis worldwide has created various cultural, religious, social and political networks and increasing number of associations of Nepali migrants all across the globe. The establishments of such networks and associations backed by their economic remittances have given a new voice, especially among ethnic groups, and the Nepali diaspora associated with it in the ethnic debates of state restructuring in Nepal. The military migrants among the hill ethnic groups, with their history and culture of migration, are at the forefront of this new movement.