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16 October 2014

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Dewan Rai: Wind of Change

Wind of Change

By Dewan Rai
September 2007, Cardiff
A digital story from Digital Storytelling

This is one of a collection of Digital Stories made by international journalists studying with the Thomson Foundation in Cardiff on a special course during the summer of 2007.

"I cannot believe my eyes when I see Daya Krishna Rai in Cardiff. The last time I saw him was at his book launch back in Nepal last year. Now I see him at a construction site in Cardiff. It is a bit of a shock because Rai, a retired Gurkha soldier, is also a well-known social activist, a writer and a poet back home.

What on earth is he doing here?

"This is what ex-Gurkhas do in the UK," he says. Rai lives in a rented apartment that he shares with the family of another ex-Gurkha, Moti Pun. In Nepal, Rai owns two colossal buildings worth over £100,000, like many ex-Gurkhas. Have these soldiers left their homes only to come and toil from dawn till dusk? Gurkha soldier lives a life of luxury in Nepal compared to an average Nepali who lives on less than 25 pence a day.

One of the reasons for coming here is their children's education. Sangita and Maryna, daughters of Pun and Rai speak good English. They attended an expensive private school in Nepal. I'm surprised that they believe they'll get better education in a comprehensive school in UK.

The other reason is the recent British government decision to grant UK citizenship to ex-Gurkha families. Although Gurkha soldiers have won the right to British pensions, this only applies to soldiers who retired after 1997 and these guys retired before that.

The Gurkhas fought for the British crown for about 200 years. I think they deserve to be treated equally for their unfailing loyalty. About 50,000 Gurkha soldiers sacrificed their lives in wars Britain fought.

What does the British government mean by giving certain benefits to certain soldiers? Does it mean that those who retired before '97 are not as loyal as those who retired after that? In my opinion, it is an insult to the entire Gurkha regiment and to the people of Nepal."

Your comments

"I like this story very much. Actually he is the father of my friend. I know him very well." Chiring Sherpa.

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