What Gandhi means to me – Winston Dookeran

Every year, on October 2, which is the birth anniversary of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, is also observed as the International Day of Non-Violence by the United Nations. Therefore, we publish this timely piece by Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran, founding leader of the Congress of the People of Trinidad and Tobago.

What Gandhi means to me

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, to me is central to the freedom of the life I now share, and for the many, many millions of people across the globe in our times. His political journey for truth, justice and liberty for mankind remains the singular expression of his life, and uplifts us each time it rains and when we falter in upholding our public values.

An exceptional leader, perhaps the finest political strategist in our century, Gandhi reminded us of the strength and power of moral philosophy as the anchor for building authentic political movements. Along with Rabindranath Tagore and  Jawaharlal, he showed how philosophy, strategy and the practice of politics are connected in mapping the pathway for just political struggles. It was a unique synthesis that led one time Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh to say in “the Galaxy of Great Leaders” that “Few nations have seen such, within the span of a singular lifetime… leaders and intellectuals such as Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharalal Nehru and Rahindranath Tagore, among others, illuminated our national discourse. Together; that generation of National Leaders let behind a very important value: the idea of pluralism, the idea of inclusiveness, and the idea of unity in diversity”.

These words reverberate today as one of the constant yearnings of our own society and indeed of several societies in the contemporary world setting.

The Mahatma (The Great Soul) for me, is an incarnation of divine thoughts, and his words never fail to teach us that power is sacred and it is on our own efforts that we can reap ‘goodness’ and provide ‘light’ around us. The Mahatma spoke through action in raising consciousness among friends and foes in his quest for the dignity of each individual and in the unity of communities. It was in pursuit of this quest that his life provided many moments of inspiration. Many such moments in this journey were acts of real courage and unending faith in the ‘rightness‘of one’s actions, and in an understanding of the motives of the opponents he faced.

His struggle had universal appeal and spread across borders, for it was rooted in the cause of humanity. It came head to head with the powers in the political world order, and even in the systems of ideological divide.

To me, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi freedom struggle may have had its theatre in India, but his reach was well beyond those shores. As an Apostle of Peace among nations, he left an indelible ink on the course of world politics and its history, and a reference point in our never ending quest for global peace.

Winston Dookeran


Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran is currently a Professor of Practice at the University of the West Indies, he has had a long career in politics in Trinidad and Tobago, holding several high political offices. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics, University of Manitoba, and was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University and Adjunct Professor at Toronto University. He is a recipient of the Pravasi Award by the President of India. H is the author of several books on Caribbean economic matters.