‘Dost’ indeed!

Holding high the moral of “Vasudeva Katumbbakam,” has been quick to send relief teams to Turkey, which has been devastated by three earthquakes.

It may have surprised many in Turkey and elsewhere when India's assistance during a time of natural disaster has reached Turkey. Three earthquakes in 24 hours have killed thousands and caused widespread devastation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to express condolences for the loss of life; more importantly, the expression of sympathy was more than verbal; relief to the quake-hit was immediately organised; an Indian Air Force plane carrying an Indian relief team had already arrived in Adana and the relief and rescue work have already started by the Indian contingent. Ankara clearly did not expect such a cordial response from New Delhi, given that the former has been harshly critical of the Modi regime for long time. To India's chagrin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue during his address to leaders at the UN General Assembly last September. Turkey has also attempted to humiliate India at the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Pakistan, a close ally of Turkey, has aided and abetted the anti-India narratives at various world forums.

Turkish president, Erdogan, in particular, seems to be nurturing ambitions to become a Caliph; this nurturing coincides with the oil-rich Arabs, particularly Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), losing interest in spreading jihad globally. Erdogan has nearly undone Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's secular legacy as the father of modern Turkey. While Atatürk promoted Turkish nationalism, Erdogan is an Islamist. Erdogan converted Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia, a historic monument, into a mosque three years ago. He even led worshippers in the opening prayers. Against this backdrop, it must have pleased the powers that be in Ankara that New Delhi did not let its dislike for them cloud its response to the disaster. “'Dost' is a common word in Turkish and Hindi…,” Turkish Ambassador to India Firat Sunel tweeted. ‘Dost kara gunde belli olur,' says a Turkish proverb (a friend in need is a friend indeed). “Thank you so much, India.” V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, paid a visit to Turkey's embassy. Rescue and medical teams have already begun their journey from India to Turkey. The Prime Minister's Office convened and decided to send two teams of the Disaster Relief Force (NDRF). The teams will consist of 100 personnel, specially trained dog squads, and the necessary equipment. It should be noted that such efforts are not an exception, but rather the norm; in the past, India also assisted other countries, including hostile ones, when they faced massive crises. PM Modi was the driving force behind Vaccine Maitri. The MEA must seize the opportunity created by India's generosity.