Before emplaning for Ankara, Ozal told his ambassador, "Perhaps we have neglected this country." (Jawaharlal Nehru's visit to Ankara in 1960 had been the first and last by an Indian prime minister to Turkey) At the subsequent United Nations General Assembly session in New York, Ozal and Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, both leaders with a modern outlook, met and took a liking for each other . Ozal was duly invited to India, an offer that he took up the following year, 1986. Thus high-level exchanges were renewed between India and Turkey, two secular republics with much in common.
After its independence in 1947, India found Turkey on the other side of the Cold War divide, so there were few exchanges between them. Indian minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad did visit Ankara in the 1950s, and signed agreements on educational, cultural and scientific cooperation. Nehru's visit in 1960 turned out to be ill-timed because a few days later the government of prime minister Adnan Menderes was overthrown by the Turkish armed forces. Nehru had insisted and met with Ismet Inonu, Ataturk's right-hand man and successor, then the opposition leader, but only at an embassy reception as the government would not fix an official meeting.
Menderes and his delegation came to the reception only after Inonu had left (after the coup, Menderes was tried and hanged). Inonu had told Nehru not to trust the communists (Chinese), and sent guns to India after the 1962 Chinese invasion of India, despite Pakistani objections.
The Turks maintain that they have always been the ones to take the initiative to normalize bilateral relations with India. As part of widening foreign relations, prime minister Demirel sent his foreign minister, Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil, to India in 1968. This was basically to soften up non-aligned movement leader India's support of Archbishop Makarios on Cyprus, as Turkey's relations with Arab and other Muslim countries had not improved enough on the basis of religious and economic interests. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) had not yet been founded to garner Muslim support against Makarios. But within a decade, India and Turkey became engrossed in their own affairs.
Ozal’s visit to India in 1986 and Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Turkey in 1988 were like Demirel attempt in the late 1960s, to broaden and expand Turkey's political and economic relations. Since then there have been regular exchanges of high-level visits, including that of president Shankar Dayal Sharma to Turkey in 1993 and Demirel's return visit in January 1995 to India . Another important visitor in 1996 was Turkey's chief of general staff, General I H Karadayi. The military, then, along with politicians and the secular elite, form the third power center in Turkey's ruling triangle. Sanskrit- and Bengali-literate former prime minister Bulent Ecevit was invited to India during Sharma’s visit . A poet and a trade unionist, Ecevit followed the Bhagavad Gita's teachings in his political life and also translated some poems from Tagore's Geetanjali into Turkish.