Indian Gorkha

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Indian Gorkha
Total population
12,000,000 (12 million) (estimated)
Related ethnic groups
Nepali people

Indian Gorkhas or Bharatiya Gorkhas (Nepali: भारतीय गोर्खा) are Nepali-speaking people of India. The term "Indian Gorkha" tries to make a distinction between citizen of Nepal and the Indian citizens of Gorkha (Nepali) ethnic group.

In the introduction to the book Gorkhas Imagined (2009), Prem Poddar makes an important point about the Gorkhas in Nepal versus the Gorkhas in India: "the word 'Gorkha' (or the neologism 'Gorkhaness') as a self-descriptive term ... has gained currency as a marker of difference for Nepalis living in India as opposed to their brethren and sistren in Nepal.[1]

Indian identity[edit]

The 1st Battalion of 1 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army. Currently there are 7 Gorkha regiments in the Indian Army.

Indian Gorkhas are citizens of India as per the Gazette notification of the Government of India on the issue of citizenship of the Gorkhas of India.[2] However, the Indian Gorkhas are faced with a unique identity crisis with regard to their Indian citizenship because of the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1950) that permits "on a reciprocal basis, the nationals of one country in the territories of the other the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of a similar nature".[3] Thus, there are also many Nepalese citizens of Nepal living in India. The Indian Gorkhas are mistakenly identified as citizens of Nepal,[4] which has led to several movements of the Indian Gorkhas, including the Gorkhaland movement, for a clear recognition of their Indian citizenship.

Demand for Gorkhaland state[edit]

The quest of the Indian Gorkhas for a distinct Indian identity has given rise to the demand for a state of Gorkhaland within the Constitution of India under Article 3(a). The Gorkhas believe that with the establishment of a state for the Gorkhas within India, every Indian Gorkha would have an Indian address that would quell any doubts of their Indian citizenship. The proposed state of Gorkhaland comprises the district of Darjeeling and the adjoining areas of the Dooars in North Bengal. Two mass movements for Gorkhaland have already taken place under the Gorkha National Liberation Front (1986–1988) and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (2007–to date).


Gorkhaland supporters demonstrating in Mirik, Darjeeling.

It is estimated that there are about 1,50,000,00 Gorkhas in India but a true count will be possible after the India Census (2011) that is enumerating castes for the first time since 1931. In the Darjeeling district of West Bengal there is an estimated 12,00,000 Gorkhas. The Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal has about 400,000 Gorkhas. There is an estimated 500,000 Gorkha population in Sikkim – the only state in which a majority of the population are Gorkhas. There's a sizable population of Gorkhas in the states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and as well as Assam. A considerable number of Gorkhas also live in the north Indian states of Himachal Pradesh (200,000), Uttarakhand (600,000), Punjab (100,000), Jammu and Uttar Pradesh. Gorkhas also live in many Indian cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Castes and clans[edit]

The Gorkhas of India are a mixture of Indo-Aryan castes and Mongoloid-featured clans of Nepalis origin. Among the Indo-Aryan castes include the Bahun (Brahmins), Chhetri, Thakuri, Kami, Damai, Sarki etc.and among the Mongoloid/hybrid group is a heterogenous mixture of various clans and ethnic groups, including Gurung, Magar, Newar, Tamang, Thami, Bhujel (Khawas), Rai (Khambu), Limbu (Subba), Sunuwar (Mukhia), Yakkha (Dewan), Sherpa, Yolmo, etc.[5] Although each of them have their own language (belonging to the Tibeto-Burman or Indo-Burman languages which is rarely used at present), the lingua franca among the Gorkhas is Nepali language with its script in Devnagari. The Nepali language, which is one of the official languages of India, is the common binding thread of all Gorkha castes and clans.

Notable Indian Gorkhas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Prem Poddar and Anmole Prasad, ed. (2009). Gorkhas Imagined: Indra Bahadur Rai in Translation. Darjeeling, India: Mukti Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-909354-0-1. 
  2. ^ Gorkhaland State website. Retrieved on 2012-12-23.
  3. ^ India and Nepal. Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Signed at Kathmandu, on 31 July 1950.
  4. ^ ‘Flawed’ media reporting hurts Gorkha community
  5. ^ Barun Roy (2012). Gorkhas and Gorkhaland. Darjeeling, India: Parbati Roy Foundation.