Indian Gorkha

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Nepali Bhasi Indians
Total population
(Estimated at up to 22,871,749[1])
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Religion

Indian Gorkhas (Nepali: भारतीय गोर्खा, Bharatiya Gorkha)are Indian peoples of the Nepali Bhasi ethnic group, along with some indigenous ethnic groups such as Rai, Limbu, Gurung and Tamang enlisted in 8th Schedule of Indian Constitution. The term "Indian Gorkha" is used to differentiate between Nepali Bhasi who are Indian citizens and Nepali Bhasi who are Nepalese (Nepali people).

In the introduction to the book Gorkhas Imagined (2009), Prem Poddar makes an important point about the Gurkhas 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 Nepali Bhasi Indians as opposed to Nepali Bhasi Nepalese."[2]

History[edit]

Some parts of present-day North India were under the kingdom of Nepal before it became a part of the East-India Company during the British Raj. For example, the Darjeeling district of West Bengal was a part of Sikkim and for some time part of Nepal. Sikkim, the only state in India with ethnic Indian Gorkha majority, became part of India in 1975. Other areas with significant Indian Gorkha population include Uttrakhand, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya. The Indian Gorkha population is also scattered throughout India in all major cities, especially Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Guwahati, Patna, Lucknow, and Bhopal.

Gorkha Regiments[edit]

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

Since the formation of India in 1947, as per the terms of the Britain–India–Nepal Tripartite Agreement, six Gorkha regiments, formerly part of the British Indian Army, became part of the Indian Army and have served ever since. The troops are Gorkhas, either residents of Nepal or ethnic Indian Gorkhas of India. They have a history of courage in battle, evident from the gallantry awards won by Gorkha soldiers and battle honours awarded to Gorkha battalions, both before and after joining the Indian Army. A seventh Gorkha Rifles regiment was re-raised in the Indian Army after Independence to accommodate Gorkha soldiers of 7th Gurkha Rifles and the 10th Gurkha Rifles who refused to transfer to the British Army.

Indian Identity[edit]

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.[3] 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".[4] Thus, there are also many Nepalese citizens of Nepal living in India. The Indian Gorkhas are mistakenly identified as Nepali people,[5] which has led to several movements of the Indian Gorkhas, including the Gorkhaland movement, for a clear recognition of their Indian identity and 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).

Demographics[edit]

Gorkhaland supporters demonstrating in Mirik, Darjeeling.

It is estimated that there are about 12,000,000 Gorkhas in India but a true count will be possible after the publication of India Census (2011) that is enumerating castes for the first time since 1931. In the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, there are 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 are an estimated 3000,000 Gorkhas in Assam. There is a sizable population of Gorkhas in the states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh. 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, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

Castes and clans[edit]

The Indian Gorkhas are a mixture of Indo-Aryan castes and Mongoloid-featured clans. The Indo-Aryan castes include the Bahun (Brahmins), Chhetri (Khatriyas/Khatris), Thakuri (Rajputs), Kami, Damai, Sarki, etc. The Mongoloid/hybrid group is a heterogeneous 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.[6] Although each of them has their own language (belonging to the Tibeto-Burman or Indo-Burman languages), the lingua franca among the Gorkhas is the 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2000, Census of India, 2001
  2. ^ Prem Poddar and Anmole Prasad, ed. (2009). Gorkhas Imagined: Indra Bahadur Rai in Translation. Darjeeling, India: Mukti Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-909354-0-1. 
  3. ^ http://gorkhalandstate.blogspot.in/p/gazette-notification-on-issue-of.html. Gorkhaland State website. Retrieved on 2012-12-23.
  4. ^ India and Nepal. Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Signed at Kathmandu, on 31 July 1950. untreaty.un.org
  5. ^ http://www.darjeelingtimes.com/opinions/political/5163-flawed-media-reporting-hurts-gorkha-community-.html ‘Flawed’ media reporting hurts Gorkha community
  6. ^ Barun Roy (2012). Gorkhas and Gorkhaland. Darjeeling, India: Parbati Roy Foundation.