- The Birth of Modern Turkey.
- Social Reconstru ction.
- Economic Reconstruction.
The Birth of Modern Turkey
The transition of Turkey from the pre-war to the post-war stage presents a bewildering example of what human endeavor can achieve. During a span of ten years Turkey shattered her medieval social structure and replaced it by a most modern and progressive design. Turkey under the Ottoman Empire was a theocracy in which everything administrative, social, or educational was actuated by a religious ideology. People placed a value on spiritual qualities of Quranic conceptions of life and administration. The Sultan was the religious head of all the Muslims and was called the Caliph. Turkey was an impotent power having no great respect in the cosels of Europe. She was called the ‘Sick Man of Europe’ who constantly showed signs of death and annihilation. The people were illiterate, mystic, and superstitious. There was one section of the population the aristocracy which indulged in the worst kind of debauchery and arrogated all the pleasure and splendour of life to themselves. The average man starved in the mosque. But the Caliph though most profligate and unprincipled was worshipped by the mob as a demi-gog. The Royal family signified something supernatural and divine for the Turkish people. Even the domocratic ideas of French Revolution which had affected European thought considerably failed to influence the Turkish Emperor worship.
The root cause of this apparent paradox was the implicit faith which they had in religious values. For them religion was not necessarily a workable principle of life. Their way of life was based on the mystic dream of a future life which was still to come. That spiritual existence was something coveted by every religious devotee. So much so that the order of life on this side of the grave was constructed on the pattern of the future life. Temporal existence implied a vicious circle for all good people. This led to the creation of an other worldliness among the Turkish, people which would have cost them political liberty had not Kemal Ata Turk been born. Their attitude of mind was essentially due to a misinterpretation of Islamic doctrines by the fanatic “Mullas.”. Islam never made this world bitter to create another sweeter one after death. It never consisted of a purely spiritual ideology. It presented the greatest possible measure of synthesis between spirit and matter. The Turkish theocracy placed an unnecessary value on the spirit and ignored the material aspect of life altogether, which led to disunion in the make up of the Turkish individual. This created intellectual, economic, and social impotence in the country. The task of undoing this centuries-old process of national stagnation was entrusted to the New Turkish Republic under the illustrious leadership of Kemal Ata Turk.
Kemalist Turkey realized its important position as a link and the rendezvous between the cultures – of East and West. She saw that the purely spiritual ideal was out of date in the modern world. She found out the mistake which had launched the Turkish nation into a state of constant dishonour and humiliation. But the old structure was firmly rooted in the country. Kemal Pasha affected by a brief and glorious revolution what the West and the East have not been able to effect to this day. He brought about a synthesis between the spiritual and the material aspects of human life and restored the essential unity of human nature.
Turkey to-day is progressing steadily in economic and social activities. How all this enormous change in the life of about 17 million people was effected within a short period of 10 years is a wonder of human ingenuity and organization. The first important change was the secularization of religion. People were told by’ honest instruction to work for a proportion between spiritual and material values. Religion was restored to its proper sphere of educating the people to live-well in this world so that they may find a rich spiritual life in the hereafter. But they should not subordinate the interests of this world to that of the next. Religion was banned from the field of politics. If any conflict arose between the ideals of nation and religious sentiment the former prevailed. The dogmas of Quran were re-interpreted to cope with the new conditions, under the expert guidance of Turkish scholars. The ritual was simplified and the use of the national language in religious exercises was made obligatory. The Fez was replaced by the modern felt cap.
The arts of painting, sculpture, architecture and music which had stagnated during the sway of religious fanaticism were revived, and modernized. Now a Turkish opera of the latest design performs at Istanbul. Disciplined cultural freedom has taken the place of superstition.
The builders of Modern Turkey launched a big programme of economic regeneration of the nation under a Five Years Plan. The finances of the nation were set in order. Taxation was re-organised on an equitable basis. Control of currency and banking was vested in the Govt. An all round programme of industrialization and electrification of the whole country was chalked out. Decaying industries were given State aid to tide over the world depression. Agriculture was rejuvenated with the help of the Government and the Bank Agrico’ was established to finance and help agricultural operations. A grand public works programme with the extension of railway service was taken in hand by the State. In short a policy of economic rejuvenation of the whole country became programme of the Overnight Republic.
The government realised, that to keep up with the modern world a programme of immediate westernization in the economic, industrial and political spheres was vital since western civilization was obviously the most enlightened and prosperous stage of human evolution. They realize that if they kept back they would be washed off from the map of the world, as Abyssinia has been obliterated today. They found that the scientific means of production were efficient and economical. The first thing which the Republic took in hand was the education of the men and women to Turkey on western lines. They knew that unless they changed the minds of their people and made them up-to-date there was no prospect of a living and healthy Turkey. During 1923-1933 the number of boys in primary schools increased from 250,000 to 366,000 and girls from 50,000 to 201,000. The Universities increased the number of girls from 285 to 870 and boys from 2,900 to 4,600 during the same period.
The latest European Civil Code of Switzerland was adopted in place of the Quranic Civil Law. International figures and Latini characters replaced the Arabic Figures and script. Women were made to discard purdah and claim equal rights with men in every walk of national activity.
The emancipation of the sexes produced the most salutary effect on Turkish society. The new generation was more up-to-date and well informed. There grew up enthusiasm among the Turkish people for the uplift of their society and nation. This all was done with the help and under the of the Republic. And the people knew that the State was doing everything for the nation. The enfranchizement of women capped the arduous task of the modernization of Turkey which was effected by the sheer force of grit and resolution of a disillusioned Turkish soldier. Turkey has very cordial relations with Pakistan. Both countries are afoot to pacify the present world tension. The day is not far when they will succeed in their peaceful aims.