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Turkey-Syria Earthquake: Post India's Outreach, Must Foreign Policy Be Reviewed?

Despite Prez Erdogan's Pak Support, the Indian govt & Army have risen to the occasion and done a commendable job.

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The Government of India and the Indian Army along with the NDRF deserve a big round of applause. Thanks to the commendable efforts and excellent services rendered by the "angels in maroon berets," who are officially known as Paratrooper Medical Officers from the Army Medical Corps (AMC)'s elite 60 Para Field Hospital.

They have been at the frontlines of the HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) Operation under Operation DOST in earthquake-ravaged Turkey and Syria.

Their efforts have not only brought worldwide attention and much appreciation to the nation, well captured by some heartwarming pictures of otherwise grief-stricken residents thanking the AMC Officers storming the social media, but have also brought to fore the yeoman services of the Medicos of the Armed Forces (AMC) as a whole.

This is especially true of the elite paratroopers within their ranks who have since 1947, performed many such tasks with remarkable grit and poise on multiple occasions, most of them silently.

India's Rescue Team Deployment in Turkey Exemplifies Humanitarianism

What is special about Operation DOST is that not only has it been brought to public consciousness like never before since the time of Lt Col Dr AG Rangaraj MVC (the first Doctor Paratrooper), but also led many to recognise the utility and potential benefits of HADR rendered by India.

That India was one of the first responders to go under her own colours primarily into a country which has for many years now been inimical to some of our core interests, has not been lost on anyone. It has helped us underscore crucial foreign policy as well as soft power projection points.

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For many years now, President Erdogan has blatantly supported Pakistan, made needless attempts to interfere in our internal affairs, and lost no opportunity to malign Indian interest at every available international forum on every occasion.

So for Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to have taken this call to reach out directly to the people of Turkey at a time of need in such an open manner, despite the risk of domestic criticism, shows appreciable deftness and foreign policy wisdom.

As always, the Indian Army has risen to the occasion and the AMC has done a commendable job at the ground level, fulfilling its motto of 'Sarve Santu Niramaya'.

This will not only help provide genuine relief to those affected, but also help in generating highly positive public sentiment for India, which is invaluable given the prevalent demographic, religious and socio-political sensitivities of that region, particularly since the last decade.

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Should India Step up HADR Operations Abroad?

What is important to note and learn from here is that it is perhaps time to scale up such HADR operations by India all over the world, especially in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia should the need arise at any point of time.

It is also pertinent to note that with a sizeable pool of foreign medical graduates who have cleared screening exams and have gone on to render decorated service in the AMC, including SF Paratroopers in highly elite and well recognised units such as 9 Para SF as well as regular specialists, the AMC has a large pool of individuals who possess excellent medical and soldierly abilities.

They also possess foreign language skills and an intricate knowledge and exposure to local customs and contacts, thus, they can be invaluable assets to the organisation which is likely to make our tasks in such situations even more effective.

(Saurabh Sacchar is a consultant physician and writer, and hails from a millitary background. He tweets under the handle @doc_sacharr. Views expressed are personal.)

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