In Nepal itself almost all sections of society across the country are very civic-minded and community orientated in their approaches to life and what they value. This same spirit has certainly transferred to the UK where, as most Nepalis are first generation settlers and also a sizable majority (65%+) have British Army, Brigade of Gurkhas contexts, the concept of ‘Society’ and that of ‘Community’ are major influencers where on-community activity and action is concerned.
Family matters and the clan, broader ethnicity, caste or location of origin all continue to be defining factors in terms of life outside of work, and even marriage. This takes place against a very different societal backdrop of the secular society of the adopted country, the UK, where most of those factors don’t exist, and a consumerist materialistic approach to life largely dominates, seen in the approach to the elderly, where in many cases if you are affluent or even only moderately so, elderly parents are placed in ‘residential care and retirement homes’ as sons and daughters and grandchildren have little time of apparent inclination to spend time with and look after their elderly parents and grandparents.
In terms of integration issues and challenges, the UK Nepali new settlers/new UK citizens are perhaps of all peoples of the world, unique, in that by far still the vast majority are British Army Gurkha linked, and as such because of their civic and social and community spirit and outlook coupled with direct links of the most outstanding and honourable kinds with that British Institute (British Army) and related ones, commonly where Nepali Gurkhas are concerned are viewed as ‘more British than the British.’ The Nepali people’s natural and world-famous politeness and friendliness also are powerful elements where integration is concerned. However, on the host country side there are still at time of creating this information resources, major needs for change and action on systems, communicating on the latter and rights and responsibilities, and issues such as deliberate or unintended exploitation, and regarding racism and indirect discrimination (mentioned below).
Both the Nepal and British National Anthems are played at all of the main national and many of the more important annual events celebrating the close interlinkage of peoples and nations. The discs used to play the anthems unite the two anthems seamlessly so that one follows the other in uninterrupted manner; symbolically representative of the Nepali approach of warmth and respect to the adopted country, that often most have had long association with through the British Army. In some ways the playing of national anthems harks back to an almost pre-WWII Britain.
Racism and discrimination and exploitation, and issues and needs concerning systems and related communications:
Inevitably throughout the seeking of the views, and learning of the experiences and issues of importance direct to the UK Nepali community itself, that have arisen and emerged throughout the research and then finalising stages of this information resource creation, the topics referred to above have occurred on multiple occasions, at many levels, and many geographical locations. Indeed the project was underway in early 2019 when the scale and severity of Anti-Gurkha Anti-Asian racism in Swindon, emerged, and in the concluding phase of Spring and Summer 2020 at the time of Covid 19 and its impacts the same issue and others emerged in multiple forms in Kent and beyond. Links:
The impacts of such experiences have principally around making ex-Gurkhas, and even frontline NHS and social care works who are Nepali feeling fearful and unwelcome. Only educational means (such as particularly for example this information resource provides on what unites rather than divides, and dispels ignorance, can resolve these problems.
Exploitation and related indirect indiscrimination in places of work are real phenomenon that also amplify for those community members afflicted, the feeling of not being welcome in the UK except to be taken advantage of for their skills and labour – rogue employers and service providers have in this a direct affinity and dark impact on community cohesion, to that of those who are openly racist; they also tarnish the British name and name of the country. As a concrete example, the UKNFS after much evidence of plight and extreme cases from other South Asian (Indian) international students at a number of South Coast universities of poor and sometimes inhumane treatment, the UKNFS working with another South Coast multicultural organisation (One Community Hampshire and Dorset: https://www.ochd.org.uk/) led to a national level initiative to support Nepali students at such universities. Because of the core UKNFS partnering/collaboration relationship with the NRNA UK at national leadership level, the NRNA UK initiated an outreach and research gathering campaign across all UK universities that have Nepali students, to support Nepali international students in plight – some 300+ reporting experiences of the most worrying kinds. Such experiences, again, impact negatively on perceptions of British ‘values’ and Britain itself.
This topic links to the main challenge for UK state mechanisms, especially national government departments/agencies to local authority and public services organisations in being able to effectively engage and communicate with and support the integration and fundamental day to day living, working (and studying: please see above) needs of the Nepali and Nepali Gurkha community members. Issues here include the Home Office/UK Immigration organisations ‘Gurkha DNA Scandal’ that in 2019 the then Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, formally apologised for on behalf of the UK Visa Immigration (UKVI) Home Office agency, and on insensitivities, Gurkha Pensions, and unintended but very powerful negative impacts on ex-Gurkhas and their families concerning ‘Universal Credit’ system insensitivities, with extreme negative impacts for 100,000+ members of the Nepali-Gurkha community on duration of family in Nepal visit, needs.
In all of these, the common denominator is poorly [to non-existent level] culturally informed policy developers in the UK Civil Service at UK Government Departments [Home Office, DWP, DfE] Whitehall – Not Westminster – level, down to local level public service organisations that apply the Whitehall directed policies. Again, this information resource de-facto provides the crucial ‘need to know’ cultural heritage and socio-economic profile details on this particular BAME [Nepali – Gurkha] community, unique for its renown beyond Whitehall, and in the minds and hearts of almost all British citizens as being ‘more British than the British’ and ‘Bravest of the Brave.’
The above in terms of cultural heritage and culture-sharing needs focus particularly on the following issues and dynamics:
- Is the UK truly at practical, safety, safeguarding and day to living and working level welcoming of those accorded the honour in the national perception of a community that is regarded as ‘more British than the British’ and ‘Bravest of the Brave’
- The need to avoid and end any perceptions at community and individual levels of such a special community being made to feel unwelcome through all too commonplace Anti-Gurkha/Asian prejudice related ASB
- Extreme insensitivities at policy shaping level in UK Government (Whitehall, Not Westminster/Downing Street) on culturally important matters such as the Universal Credit ‘duration of family leave’ matter – not to be aware of its significance indicates a wholesale failure of those who created the Universal Credit Full Service system to understand ‘first generation community members settling in the UK largely through a defence of Nation and Crown service through the British Army particular core circumstances’ nor how much family ties [why family visits of sufficient length, that existed until the introduction of the DWP’s ‘Universal Credit’] matter to this particular community.
Integration and transcultural awareness:
The ‘mission’ if so it can be described, of the creation and then use and dissemination of this information resource particularly concentrates on the transcultural awareness dimension of integration for the Nepali community, and conversely what this exceptional still quite small (compared to other, long established BAME communities) in number, ethnic minority community brings to the UK and the UK majority and minority communities where community cohesion and diversity & social competence skills and perspectives are concerned.
Linking to the topic of unawareness/unintended but major life-impacting errors and dearth of cultural awareness to policy developers in Whitehall and public services and national government departments and agencies policy and programmes implementation level, transcultural awareness (so to speak, this given BAME cultural and social heritage ‘need to know’ profile) particulars, which for the first time ever in the UK this information resource provides, is essential to maximise effective integration, community cohesion and related ‘welcome’ and contributing to British society and economy factors.