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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Turkey invokes Mahatma Gandhi and Sufi poet Rumi - sends relief material to India

The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion. “He’s this compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch, who is writing a biography of Rumi to follow his critically acclaimed books on Frank O’Hara and Flannery O’Connor. “The map of Rumi’s life covers 2,500 miles,” says Gooch, who has traveled from Rumi’s birthplace in Vakhsh, a small village in what is now Tajikistan, to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, to Iran and to Syria, where Rumi studied at Damascus and Aleppo in his twenties. His final stop was Konya, in Turkey, where Rumi spent the last 50 years of his life. Today Rumi’s tomb draws reverent followers and heads of state each year for a whirling dervish ceremony on 17 December, the anniversary of his death.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī,  simply  Rumi (1207 – 1273), was a 13th-century Persian  poet,   Islamic scholar, Maturidi theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran. Rumi's works are written mostly in Persian, but occasionally he also used Turkish, Arabic,  and Greek in his verse.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  recently sued a nationalist rival for comparing him to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, official media reported. Iyi Party (Good Party) leader Meral Aksener, a conservative nationalist who has been dubbed Turkey's "Iron Lady", said in parliament  that Netanyahu and Erdogan used similar tactics to hold on to power. She said Netanyahu's recent campaign against armed Palestinian groups in Gaza, which Erdogan has furiously opposed, was driven by politics and a desire to gain public support after four inconclusive elections in two years.

Turkey   is a country straddling Western Asia and Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea. Istanbul, the largest city, is the financial centre, and Ankara is the capital. Turks form the vast majority of the nation's population, and Kurds are the largest minority.

Turkey aims to be among the first countries to have an entirely artificial intelligence (AI)-controlled unmanned warplane, with plans for it to take to the Turkish skies in 2023, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. The success of Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the field has produced results that "require war strategies to be rewritten," the president said. Erdoğan was speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara. The president added that currently a total of 180 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) are operated in four countries, including Turkey. Previously, Turkish drone magnate Baykar's Chief Technology Officer Selçuk Bayraktar said the maiden flight of the prototype of the country's domestically-made unmanned fighter jet is scheduled for 2023.

             Covid aid material, delivered by two Turkish A400M military cargo aircraft on Wednesday, were packed in boxes that bore the words of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi – “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness”.  Turkey invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi as it delivered 50 tonnes of relief material, including five oxygen generators, to support India’s response to a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections.

Turkey has joined dozens of countries that have delivered hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and equipment, including oxygen generation plants, to help India overcome a severe shortage of oxygen and other materials amid the second wave that saw the daily infection rate breach the 400,000-mark. A statement from the Turkish embassy referred to the delivery of the supplies, including five oxygen generators, 50 ventilators, 680 oxygen cylinders, and 50,000 boxes of antiviral medicine, late on Wednesday and recalled the role played by Indian leaders in Turkey’s history.

“The assistance and contribution of Indian people and prominent Indian figures like the Father of the Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who collected funds to support Turkey’s Liberation War [during] 1919-1923, and Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, who led the medical mission to Ottoman Empire and set up field hospitals to treat wounded Ottoman soldiers during the Balkan Wars in 1912, are still very much alive in the memories of Turkish people,” the statement said. Turkish ambassador Firat Sunel said the aid from his country was one of the largest consignments sent out amid the second wave. Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had offered to send the relief materials during a conversation with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on April 26, and Ibrahim Kalin, special adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, oversaw the delivery of the aid.

The Turkish aid was seen in some quarters as a move by Ankara to put bilateral ties on an even keel after they were hit in recent years by differences on the Kashmir issue and other matters. Erdoğan’s remarks on the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Kashmir had been criticised by New Delhi as interference in internal matters. Jaishankar and Çavuşoğlu met in Dushanbe on the margins of the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan in March, the first such interaction in more than a year. Turkey recently took on a key role in the Afghan peace process as it is set to host US-proposed talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The aid from Turkey  also represents the success of the foreign policy pursued by the present Govt headed by Shri Narendra Modi.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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