Paras Ramoutar hopes to inspire with his autobiography A Call Within a Call

Journalist and former councillor Parasram
Journalist and former councillor Parasram "Paras" Ramoutar. -

INTERNATIONAL journalist and former councillor in the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation Parasram "Paras" Ramoutar has expressed his autobiography can inspire community work and an improved level of journalism.

He was speaking with Newsday in an interview about his book A Call Within A Call: All Politics is Local.

The book launched last September at his alma mater, Toronto Metropolitan University, where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from 1971 to 1974.

It is the first book from the councillor, journalist, religious worker, communications adviser and community worker. He said he has been involved in community work for about 50 years starting from primary school and continuing into high school.

"And when I finished university, it gave it a new spin on it. And I felt I should get involved in the community that I lived and by extension the country, and, by full extension, humanity."

He said it had always been at the forefront of his mind to document his work for others coming after him to "exemplify" what he did.

"To do better than what I've done. To continue the work. Because community work is an ongoing process. It doesn't stop with me."

Asked about the title of the book, he explained he found it an inspiring theme.

"A call within a call lies within all of us. There is a call within all of us. And I felt this was a catchphrase for others to read what I have written and to try and continue where I have stopped."

Follow my footpath

He expressed hope councillors and journalists would look at his book as a "bible."

"To see where they are heading and if they could reach there. So, if they can't reach there, they will look at my book as a guide and an inspiration to reach there. To follow my footpath."

For councillors, he said the book should inspire them to "get their feet on the ground."

Paras Ramoutar's book: The autobiography A Call Within A Call: All Politics is Local. -

"And to try and help anybody, everybody as much as you can. It doesn't matter how high you are, you have to touch the ground at all times and see how you can help people. We are one humanity and we have to be our brother's keeper at all points of our lives."

He noted his motto is Driven by Commitment. Powered by Integrity.

Ramoutar mentioned in the book that he had met former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and former US President Jimmy Carter and several other notable people through his journalistic career.

He has written for the Toronto Sun, the Indo-Asian news service, and the Press Trust of India. He still writes for the South Asian Monitor and for Hinduism Today – a news service specialising in Hindu issues, and still contributes to some Toronto newspapers.

Asked about the current state of journalism in this country, he replied the media needed to get more serious about their work.

"Because a minister says something in Parliament and three years afterwards it doesn't come into being and he repeats it. There has to be more investigation in reporting. Clarifying things. Put the politicians under a test. 'You said this three years ago, sir, it hasn't come to pass. When is it going to pass? A next three years?'"

He said ministers repeat the same things and those things make a front page, and this needed to be curbed. He also commented on the effect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on journalism.

"The press role is to prepare people for the shock of change, particularly with the urgent arrival of AI which is going to change the whole concept of civilisation and the sociology of life and living with one another, and in dealing with the various institutions, governance process, leadership, corporate entities and professional bodies, religion, and youth empowerment, among the different facets of living and survival. It is a serious game change."

Writing process

Ramoutar wrote A Call Within A Call in 2021 over a period of eight or nine months.

"All that I write is information from my head. I didn't seek any references."

He added, however, that he quoted from speeches he had given during religious and social functions.

Parasram "Paras" Ramoutar. -

For the book, Ramoutar had to switch writing styles from journalistic to autobiographical. But he said this was not difficult as he was "tuned to it."

"I knew what I wanted to write and how to write. Because I wanted to write not for the 'high-profile people' but for the young people to understand. To catch a feel of what it means to get involved in community work. And despite my career as a journalist, I want to touch 'the ground' with everybody."

Asked about deciding what to include in the book and what to exclude, Ramoutar said that was a challenge.

"I had to seek spiritual inspiration to choose the correct themes. The correct pieces of work to inscribe within the book."

He further explained the spiritual inspiration was an internal one and he did not seek any external intervention.

"I just sat and write and write and write. And that persisted until it went to the printers."

One aspect included in the book was the persistent flooding in Caparo, Central Trinidad where Ramoutar is from.

"When Caparo floods the whole country is awake because the (Caparo Valley Brasso Road) is one of the main thoroughfares in the country. And people going to Rio Claro or Tabaquite or going to Chaguanas, there is no mobility (when it floods) because the road is blocked."

Ramoutar said he felt the flooding in Caparo should be his main theme for the book.

"People who have read it said, 'Paras, I didn't know you were so involved in community work. We didn't notice that you were doing so many things in the community.'"

He added: "They just thought I was some ordinary person living one day at a time."

He said his family and friends were very glad about the book and having the family name "inscribed."

A life of service

Ramoutar reported since the launch, he has received positive responses internationally and locally.

Winston Dookeran, former finance minister and foreign affairs minister and current Professor of Practice at UWI, and whom Ramoutar previously worked with as a communications adviser, wrote in the foreword to the book, “Episodes of courage, service and diplomacy fill this masterly account of his life–an inspiration to the next generation of students in the fields of politics, journalism, and community service.

"This incredible story of humility and action captures the synchronicity of Parasram (Paras) Ramoutar’s, 'thought, word and deed,' in keeping with the Vedic tradition."

Former planning minister and former UWI principal Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie wrote Ramoutar has "written a book that is worth reading."

"It is a story of personal ambition and achievement, family encouragement, community service, political advocacy and genuine community activism for the rural community of Caparo…he lives a life of service."

UWI Department of History senior lecturer Dr Jerome Teelucksingh wrote: the book "captures some of the defining moments of a life well-spent…provides ample evidence that he championed peace and justice for the marginalized."

Ramoutar said he still writes for newspapers abroad and is "semi-retired." He added he is currently at home waiting on inspiration to write his second book.

"When that comes I'm all poised for it."

For more info on A Call Within a Call e-mail or call 672-8702 or 374-5586.


"Paras Ramoutar hopes to inspire with his autobiography A Call Within a Call"

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