Operation Dost: India's Aid For Turkey Following Catastrophic Earthquake Hints At Ancient Bilateral Ties

India has extended its helping hand to the crisis-hit Turkey where the devastating earthquake has left behind a trail of death and destruction.

India's 'Operation Dost' for Turkey.

India’s assistance to earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria on Wednesday seemed like the country’s old policy of coming forward for humanity and not letting the changing geopolitical situations get in the way of its policy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family)'.

Turkey has also acknowledged India’s gesture with Turkish Ambassador to India Firat Sunel referring to India as "dost (friend)". Sunnel reciprocated India’s gesture warmly, saying, “Dost kara günde belli olur (a friend in need is a friend indeed)". 

Both countries have not been on friendly terms in the recent past, especially following Turkey’s stand on Kashmir and pro-Pakistan stance. However, when India was caught in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, Turkey sent relief assistance to India with a warm message, saying, “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness…With love from Turkey to the people of India”.

India's Operation Dost in Turkey earthquake

India has extended its helping hand to the crisis-hit Turkey where the devastating earthquake has left behind a trail of death and destruction. The death toll in the country has already mounted to over 9,500.

What is India’s ‘Operation Dost’ for crisis-hit Turkey?

India has launched ‘Operation Dost’ to send relief and other assistance to the earthquake that hit Turkey. 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced India’s ‘Operation Dost’ for the crisis-hit Turkey.

Under its ‘Operation Dost’, India has dispatched search and rescue teams, a field hospital, materials, medicines and equipment to Turkey. Besides, EAM Jaishankar also said that assistance would also be provided to the earthquake-hit Syria.

Jaishankar announced that India is sending four C-17 planeloads of relief material, equipment and personnel, weighing over 108 tonnes.

Giving a breakdown of the relief material, he said the assistance contains self-contained search and rescue units under which over 1,000 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel with equipment, vehicles and dog squads have been dispatched to the crisis-hit country.

The equipment consignment includes equipment hand and power tools, lighting equipment, air lifting bags, chain saws, angle cutters, rotary rescue saws, victim location equipment, life detectors and other things that have been sent to Turkey.

Jaishankar said the aim of the dog squads is to help locate victims in rubble and collapsed structures. It also said the specialized equipment and training of the NDRF personnel will help for detection, location, access and extrication, and to conduct collapsed structure search and rescue (CSSR) operations.

India, Jaishankar announced, has also sent 99 medical specialists who have been tasked to set up a 30-bed medical facility in field operating conditions. The medical equipment sent to Turkey contains X-ray machines, ventilators, operation theatres, vehicles, ambulances, generators, and other things.

Indian medical teams have specialized training for treating the rescued people, he said.

Besides, Jaishankar also said six tons of relief material has been dispatched to earthquake-hit Syria as well. It includes three truckloads of general and protective gear, emergency use medicines, syringes and equipment including ECG machines, monitors and other essential medical items.

India and Turkey also have a cultural overlap. 

There is a deep historical connection between India and Turkey. The first exchange of diplomatic missions between the Ottoman Sultans and the Muslim rulers of the subcontinent dates back to the years 1481-82. 

The Turkish impact on India in areas such as language, culture and civilization, art and architecture, and costumes and cuisine was considerable. 

There are also over 9,000 words common in Indian and Turkish Languages. More recent historical contacts between India and Turkey were reflected in the medical mission led by renowned Indian freedom fighter, Dr M.A. Ansari, to Turkey in 1912 during the Balkan Wars. 

India also extended support in the 1920s to Turkey’s War of Independence and the formation of the Turkish republic. Mahatma Gandhi himself took a stand against the injustices inflicted on Turkey at the end of World War I.