Dwindling numbers of Indian Gorkha in army

Dwindling numbers of Indian Gorkha in army

Indian Army veterans in Darjeeling hills have blamed changes in recruitment criteria and socio-economic factors for the recent trend of vacant Indian Gorkha berths in the country’s seven Gorkha regiments. 

A career in the armed forces had traditionally been a matter of pride for Indian Gorkhas. 

India has seven Gorkha regiments with around 40,000 Gorkhas. For these regiments, 60 per cent vacancies are reserved for citizens of Nepal while the rest 40 per cent for Indian Gorkhas.


Lt. Colonel (retd) Keshab Rai, who recently flagged off this issue of vacancies to defence minister Rajnath Singh, pointed out the change in minimum qualification that the Indian Army was a major drawback for Indian Gorkhas.

“In 2001, while fellow Indians needed to be Class X pass with a minimum aggregate of 45 per cent, Gorkhas needed to be Class VIII pass,” said Lt. Col (retd) Rai. In 2019, the criteria for Gorkhas was that they had to be Class X (matric) pass with 45 per cent marks aggregate and 33 per cent in each subject. 

Lt Col (retd) Rai feels that the “environment” from where the Gorkhas come must be emphasised. He, however, admitted that young Gorkhas, even from rural areas, are not as hardy as in the past. 

The decline in Indian Gorkha recruits in the Indian Army has come as a matter of concern for defence analysts as the contribution of Gorkhas in the armed forces is unmatched. The association of Gorkhas with the army in India dates back to over 200 years. 

The issue of few takers for army jobs among Indian Gorkhas came to the fore following media reports that the Indian Army is considering recruiting youths from Uttarkhand in Gorkha regiments.

The reports drew sharp criticism from politicians like Gaurav Gogoi, deputy leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, who felt that such a move “will be a departure from the guiding philosophy of the Gorkha Rifles.” Shanta Chhetri, TMC Rajya Sabha member, Darjeeling leaders like Anit Thapa and veterans like Rai have opposed the reported move. 
Lt. Gen (retd) Gurung, a Gorkha to occupy one of the highest positions in the India army, listed many reasons for the declining interest of Indian Gorkhas in the army. 

“This is because the physical fitness has gone down and they are also not being able to clear medical and written tests,” he said. “The first test is a one-mile race and one has to complete in 5.40 minutes. One has to run like a horse and even if you jog for 10 paces you are finished,” the veteran armyman said. “But physical fitness (among Gorkha youths) has gone down.” 

During recruitment, Gorkhas get physical relaxation in terms of height and weight but other tests stay the same.

Another reason is greater awareness of other careers, Lt. Gen (retd) Gurung said. “Our children are now increasingly looking at engineering, IT, civil services and other sectors. Becoming a soldier is no longer a career option high on the list,” he said. 

He made some suggestions to the Centre through The Telegraph:

  • Explore the possibility of reducing the 40 Gorkha Regiment battalions to around 37
  • Increase the percentage of recruitment from Nepal to 70 per cent from the existing 60 per cent
  • Decide to include youths from Uttarkhand in Gorkha Regiment as a trial as discrimination and victimisation against them by the majority Gorkhas in the regiment cannot be ruled out
  • Do away with the existing caste based recruitment in Gorkha Regiment for a more mixed representation.

But the numbers of Indian Gorkhas taking up army careers are dwindling. 

Lt Gen (retd) Shakti Gurung, a former director general (recruiting) of the Indian Army, while speaking to The Telegraph over phone from Dehradun recounted an anecdote to substantiate this. 

“I once got a complaint from Uttarakhand that Gorkhas are not being recruited adequately. I was requested for a special rally only for Gorkhas,” he said. He decided to provide 40 vacancies for Gorkhas, but only 600 to 700 youths turned up, he said, out of which only 15 got selected.



Indian Army veterans in Darjeeling hills have blamed changes in recruitment criteria and socio-economic factors for the recent trend of vacant Indian

Read latest post filed under National - International

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you! What's on your mind?


Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.