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Soldiers. Images of men with guns, bullets, knives and backpacks spring to mind. They are tough as nails, and need to be. For the defence of the motherland demands nothing less.

While the macho image of the soldier has been reinforced by the popular media, there is a milder face that is generally not seen or heard.

Come devastating floods or shattering earthquakes, the men in arms can always be counted to lend immediate assistance. People in remote corners of the world have also felt the humanitarian touch of Indian soldiers, who have often served under UN aegis. rediff.com salutes India's guardian angels. An Independence Day Special. Start

Words: R Swaminathan. Design: Rahil Shaikh

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