The British army remains one of the most attractive career paths for young men in Nepal. Recruitment for first the East India Trade Company in the 1800s, later the British Imperial Army and today, the British and Indian armies has long provided an economic incentive that has shaped the way that young men in Nepal make decisions about their career paths. Following World War II, however, as the number of Nepalis in the British army has declined, the selection process has become more challenging. Furthermore, the promise of British citizenship for anyone who serves more than six years has swelled the number of applicants.

In 2015, out of 6,000 applicants between the ages of 18 and 22, only 230 were selected. In the hope of improving their chances, thousands of young men now rely on private training centers. In the months before the selection process these young men often leave school, travel miles from home and spend months training. While there is abundant literature regarding British Gurkhas, little research has explored the effect of the recruitment process on those who have not been selected and why the number of applicants continues to grow despite the incredibly high likelihood of failure.

Drawing on interviews and recent ethnographic data, this paper is a primary attempt to analyze some of the effects of the ongoing British recruitment process, particularly for those young men who are not ultimately selected and what this demonstrates about the socio-economic lives of young Nepalis.