JMI confers Honoris Causa on Turkish President Erdogan

New Delhi [India]: President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) in a convocation function by the Jamia Millia Islamia University for “his contribution to strengthen international cooperation, peace and diplomacy as well as for his extraordinary humanitarian aid to millions of refugees.”

The degree was conferred by JMI Chancellor Lt. Gen (Retd.) M.A. Zaki.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Talat Ahmad read out the citation and said that when talking about Indo-Turkish relations, Jamia Millia Islamia’s role was hard to ignore given that some of the legendary founders of the university like Dr. M.A. Ansari were the very people who led the Indian Medical Mission to Turkey to treat Ottoman soldiers wounded in the 1912-13 Balkan Wars.

President Erdogan said that he was delighted to accept the honorary degree from a university which has played a significant role not only in India’s freedom movement but also in the way it supported the Khilafat movement in the 1920s and stood by the Turkish people and its founders.

Citing the commonness and familiarity between the Indian and Turkish cultures, he said that “culture and education” were potential areas which could take the relationship between both countries to the next level.

He strongly advocated for India’s membership for the UN Security Council and said that the international order cannot be called a just one till India’s 1.3 billion people were given representation in the world body.

Criticising the current structure of the Council as arbitrary, he said that it was set up to address the crisis emanating from the Second World War but now that situation has changed drastically. It therefore requires thorough restructuring to address the current geo-political reality of the world. “Only five permanent members of the Council are deciding the fate of the entire world which is not fair”, he added.

President Erdogan said that the Council must ensure that it gives voice and representation to India which is inhabited by 1.3 billion people.

Talking about terrorism, the Turkish President said that the menace had to be fought collectively and it was unfair to associate it with any one specific religion. He said that indulging in acts of terrorism in the name of Islam was nothing but blasphemy. He particularly named ISIS and Al Qaeda.

President Erdogan said that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Turkey had opened its doors to the refugees from the neighbouring country. He said that the international community also had a responsibility to do something for them.

Turkey has made a conscientious effort to help them as “we should not become tyrants” by becoming indifferent to the sufferings of others.

The President, who, earlier in the day, had talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, described their meeting as “very fruitful”. He said that Turkey was keen to expand trade and commercial ties with India as the volume of trade had still to reach its actual potential.

Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ahmad, who is himself an eminent Earth Scientist, urged the President to support the university in research and teaching in Earthquake Risk Management for which some Turkish universities are internationally known.

Registrar A.P. Siddiqui, who conducted the proceedings of the special convocation expressed his gratitude to the President of Turkey for “graciously accepting the degree” and hoped that his gesture of accepting the degree would go a long way in further strengthening the ties between India and Turkey.

The Special Convocation was attended among others by a 90-member strong Turkish delegation accompanying the President, H.E. Turkish Ambassador to India, Mr. Shakir Ozkan Torunlar, Saudi Ambassador H.E. Saud Mohammad Al-Sati, officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, Heads of various Diplomatic Missions in Delhi, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof Shahid Ashraf, OSD to VC Prof Sharfuddin Ahmad, Deans, Heads, Directors, faculty members and students of Jamia Millia Islamia. (ANI)