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Big guns on display at India's 70th Republic Day
The Republic Day parade walks away with the cake. It has the pride of place among all military parades in Bharat and the surrounding areas. In 2019, there will be three big guns on the parade. One is the Guest of Honour or the Chief Guest and the other two will have the focus of attention as they would augment the fire power of the Indian artillery in the battlefield.

The Indian Army needed them so badly and after faux pas of the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government in their financial management that their effectiveness in battle, especially the Kargil battles of 1999, took a backseat. Consequently, the regiment of artillery of the Indian Army was starved of long range fire power for almost three decades.

First thing first, our Chief Guest for the 70th Republic Day is an eminent person, Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa. It is a matter of significance that Bharat chose to invite a Black President from a non-aligned country where Mahatma Gandhi had begun his political career during the apartheid rule of the Whites. By the way, Bharat is celebrating 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi ji this year, a happy coincidence indeed.

It is a well known fact that the government of India had initially invited Donald Trump, President of the United States of America as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day parade but he declined on account of being preoccupied with matters of State. Barak Obama is the only President of USA who has been our R Day Chief Guest and that was in 2015.

Cyril Ramaphosa became the President of South Africa after his predecessor was asked to quit office under political pressure because of his personal indiscretions. Ramaphosa married three times, one wife at a time, and is known to have five children. He is an intellectual and pursues his hobbies with single minded attention. It is hoped that his brief sojourn in our country will strengthen the political ties between Bharat and South Africa.

Let us now shift the focus to the military hardware, the artillery guns. The one that attracts me most is the US made M777 ultra light howitzer that can be airlifted to difficult terrains by a military helicopter. Thus, its strategic deployment is a prime factor in its favour besides its range of 28 km and capability to pound the enemy position incessantly without giving them breathing time. Thus, both the inimical troops on our eastern and western borders will remain in mortal fear of these American howitzers.

Now we come to what we call K9 VAJRA. Imagine a small country like South Korea making a long range big gun that will be pounding enemy targets 30 km away. It is self-propelled in contrast to M777 that is towed. Of course, both types are expensive but were badly needed to augment our artillery's fire power that was depleting day by day. No new gun was inducted into the regiment of artillery, Indian Army after the purchase of Bofors guns where Italians like Quattrochi, called Q in short, made money at the cost of our Indian tax payers.

It is hoped that the Modi government will continue augmenting the fire power of our armed forces in more ways than one and compel the inimical forces across the borders to keep their heads down, nay buried in sand.

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