Trinidad remembers Mahatma Gandhi

By Paras Ramoutar, IANS

Port of Spain : Trinidad & Tobago, home to a large population of people from Indian origin, remembered Mahatma Gandhi on his 138th birth anniversary Tuesday.

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Addressing a function organised at the Todd Street Hindu temple here, University of Trinidad & Tobago professor Brinsley Samaroo called for a new world of non-violence.

In June this year, the United Nations General Assembly declared Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on Oct 2, as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Samaroo lamented that most of humanity today does not accept the philosophy of non-violence as a means of resolving disputes.

“We only have to look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Colombia to see that the supporters of Gandhi’s international philosophy of non-violence or ‘satyagraha’ are in a minority,” he said.

The function was jointly organised by the Indian High Commission, Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation and the Gandhi Seva Sangh, to mark the first International Day of Non-Violence.

Samaroo, senior research fellow, Academy for Arts, Letters, Culture and Public Affairs, said: “For this reason, the UN resolution placed urgency on the promotion of this viable alternative solution to genocide, nuclear war and emerging conflicts due to climate change. It is therefore the duty of all of us to be the ambassadors of Mahatma.”

He said it was at a critical moment in world history that Gandhi came to the rescue of a panicky world by offering an alternative model for resolving disputes.

“Gandhi offered the last critical piece of the model called modern democracy to enable its completion. The world was groping in the dark for some way out of this unending sequel of violence and people prayed for a new messiah,” he said.

“The Mahatma was no messiah and he did not pull the doctrine of ‘satyagraha’ out of a hat.”

Truth (satya), he said, implied love and (graha) meant firmness. So satyagraha meant binding of truth with love.

Samaroo recalled, “Mahatma did not arrive at his non-violent doctrine by sudden inspiration. He himself had to undergo personal and public cleansing, when he went to South Africa in 1893 and until he returned to India in 1915.”

The Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago, Jagjit Singh Sapra, said Gandhi’s message was even more relevant today, than when it was first espoused.

He said Gandhi fought vigorously to improve the social conditions of India and the world.

He urged the people of the world to emulate Gandhi’s teachings, so as to improve the overall conditions of humanity.

Ramjass Ramlakhan, president general, Gandhi Seva Sangh, expressed similar sentiments.