Unequal equal

The Gurkha pensioner gets less than his British government. This is colonial legacy that creates an underclass of loyal, but cheap, soldiers.

Perhaps it was fated that among the first two British casualties on the ground as part of NATO forces in Kosovo, would be a Nepali Gurkha soldier. Sergeant Balram Rai of the 69 Gurkha Field Squadron of the Royal Engineers was working in a school compound near Pristina clearing cluster bombs dropped during NATO's aerial campaign when they exploded, killing him and a British officer.

Fated because his death has suddenly put the spotlight on the issue of the British Gurkha's pay and pensions. It was indeed news to a large section of the British public that Sergeant Rai's widow will receive a compensation that is only 7.5 percent of what the widow of a British sergeant would get (a lump sum of GBP 19,092, annual pension for five years of GBP 939 and GBP 771 every year as opposed to a lumpsum of GBP 54,548 and GBP 15,192 every year that a British sergeant's widow would get).

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