India hikes Gorkha pensions to Rs.10 bn

Kathmandu, April 27 (Inditop) While Nepali soldiers employed in the Gurkha regiments of the British Army are fuming over Britain’s decision to offer full settlement rights to only about one-ninth of the 36,000 veterans, those serving in the Indian Army are rejoicing at the Indian government’s decision to hike their pension funds to Rs.10 billion (over $200 million).

After recommendations by the Indian Pay Commission, the Indian government has earmarked Rs.10 billion in 2009 to pay pensions to Nepali soldiers who had served in the Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments, up from the previous Rs.7 billion.

While the minimum pension in the 50s and 60s in the Indian Army was about Rs.1,200, it is now Rs.3,500. In addition, veterans get a dearness allowance that is revised every six months to meet rising prices.

Currently, the minimum pension is about Rs.7,000-9,000, which is about the salary a middle-ranking government official receives in Nepal.

After he turns 80, an Indian Army pensioner will have his pension increased by 20 percent and once he crosses 85, by 30 percent.

While a 95-year-old Indian soldier is entitled to 50 percent more pension, if he turns 100, it becomes doubled.

Every year, India recruits about 1,000-1,500 Gorkha soldiers from Nepal. The process had been halted for the last two years due to the political turmoil in the Himalayan nation but was resumed this year.

There were nearly 13,000 applications for the unspecified number of posts.

Currently, there are about 27,000 Nepalis in the Indian Army’s Gorkha Regiments.

In addition to running basic medical camps for Gorkha pensioners in Nepal, the Indian government is also funding the education and basic needs of nearly 200 Nepali youngsters whose fathers died in service.

While the Indian government sponsors the education of orphaned children till high school, those who show keenness and aptitude for higher studies receive additional funding.

Last year, the Indian government paid Rs.400,000 in fees and other expenses for the son of a soldier who died in Sri Lanka. The son is now a junior doctor.

Annually, the Indian government has allocated Rs.12 million for the basic education of children of its army widows in Nepal.