“Dost kara gunde belli olur”
The Turkish proverb — “Dost kara gunde belli olur” or ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ binds India and Türkiye in the aftermath of the horrendous earthquake that shook Türkiye multiple times three days ago. The devastating multiple earthquakes that ravaged Türkiye, Syria, and Lebanon have left a trail of unending death and destruction with more than 8,000 deaths and 36,000 injured. In these tragic times, India has become the first country to reach out to ‘Dost’ Türkiye, Syria, and Lebanon. India and Türkiye share great human bonds and spirituality. The Indian Bhakti Movement and Sufism that teach the love of mankind and the enduring Sufi message of love and human brotherhood taught by Hadhrat Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi is the common heritage of mankind. The Indian concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” —the world is one family— and Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s teachings of the oneness of mankind show light to the world.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Anguished by the loss of lives and damage of property due to the Earthquake in Turkey. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. India stands in solidarity with the people of Türkiye and is ready to offer all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy,” added the Prime Minister and tagged a tweet by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the quake.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved swiftly within hours of the earthquake and directed his Principal Secretary P K Mishra to hold an emergency meeting to arrange for the logistics in sending immediate relief and medicines to Türkiye. This timely assistance overwhelmed Türkiye to express their profound gratitude to their ‘Dost’ India in eloquent terms!
The Turkish Ambassador to India Firat Sunel referred to India as ‘Dost’ after New Delhi decided to offer assistance to the quake-hit country. “Dost” is a common word in Turkish and Hindi… We have a Turkish proverb: “Dost kara gunde belli olur” (a friend in need is a friend indeed). Thank you very much India,” he tweeted. “We really appreciate the help extended by India to Turkey within hours of the earthquake. We too use the word ‘Dost’ for a friend. I would say a friend in need is a friend indeed. Friends help each other,” the Turkish Ambassador said. He recalled the time when Turkey sent carriers to India with medical help during the Covid-19 pandemic in May 2021. He also informed that they have not received any requests from Indians for rescue after the earthquake. “The Indian mission in Ankara may have received some requests,” he said.
When I spoke to the learned Editor of BeyondHeadlines Afroz Alam Sahil from Istanbul, he disclosed that the Indians are very safe in Istanbul and they are not effected by the earthquake. He expressed his sorrow at the loss of human lives and the infrastructure. He urged the people to come forward to provide relief to the victims of the earthquake through voluntary organizations and aid agencies. He stressed on providing immediate relief to the needy in this tragic time.
It may be recalled that in May 2021, a Turkish military plane carried the medical supplies, including 630 oxygen tubes, five oxygen generators, 50 ventilators, and 50,000 boxes of tablet medicines prepared by the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkey’s Health Ministry. The boxes of aid bore the famous words of the 13th-century Sufi mystic poet Mevlana Rumi – “There is hope after despair and many Suns after darkness” – plus the message: “With love from Turkey to the people of India.” Ibrahim Altan, the Chief of the Turkish Red Crescent, had disclosed to mediamen then, that they sent the aid at the orders of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and with help from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry along with the ministries of health, industry and technology, and defense.
It is significant to note that within hours after the Prime Minister Office (PMO)’s announcement to send aid, a team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel with a specially trained dog squad along with necessary equipment, including an array of medical supplies, advanced drilling machines, and other crucial tools departed for Türkiye.
India’s decision to send rescue teams to help with earthquake relief is timely, much needed, and a sign of “true friendship,” hailed the ambassadors from quake-hit Türkiye and Syria. “The first 24 to 48 hours after a disaster of these proportions are the most critical, as there is hope that we can search and rescue the maximum number of those trapped in the rubble,” observed Turkish Ambassador Firat Sunel. “India’s offer of help at this critical time, sending nearly 100 experts and dog squads, is very timely and very welcome,” he appreciated. As priorities for the relief efforts change, New Delhi has promised to continue extending support. Once the search and rescue operations taper, there will be a much bigger requirement for tents, water and provisions in the long-term, and Türkiye faces a major task in reconstruction, disclosed Firat Sunel.
Humanity overshadows difficult diplomacy in times of crisis. Though India and Türkiye differ on some diplomatic issues, they came to each other’s rescue during the earthquake and COVID–19. The Indo-Turkish friendship is poised for a huge leap!