Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter's peace mission to Melbourne

22 February 2013

Internationally renowned social activist and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, ELA GANDHI will engage with women victims of domestic violence during her two-day visit to Melbourne on Sunday 24 and Monday 25 February.

The eminent South Africa-based thinker and advocate of Gandhian non-violent solutions will participate in a program of events framed around the theme “Global Problems, Local Solutions”. Highlights of her Melbourne program include:

  • Gandhi’s vision of sustainable development will be explored during a visit to the Collingwood Children’s Farm (Sunday 10 am).
  • The Mahatma’s commitment to helping people at risk is embodied in an interaction at the Hanover Welfare Services shelter for homeless people at Southbank (Sunday 1130 am).
  • Equipping the next generation with the values of non-violence will be discussed during a visit to the University of Melbourne’s Early Learning Centre at Abbotsford (Monday 0830 am).
  • Violence against women, and what to do about it, following the recent rape case in India, will be discussed at the Victorian Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service (WDVCS) at North Melbourne (Monday 10 am)
  • If Gandhi were alive today will be the subject of Ela Gandhi’s talk at the Australia India Institute (Monday 1 pm).

Download the Full Program

Ela Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter, Ela Gandhi, has spent her life as the custodian of his legacy in South Africa, as well as the caretaker of Gandhi’s farm known as the Phoenix Settlement.

In 1893, Mahatma Gandhi arrived in South Africa as a young attorney looking to launch his legal career. However, after he experienced a traumatic incident of racial discrimination in Pietermaritzburg, he dedicated himself to the pursuit of social justice and equal rights. During the 21 years he lived in South Africa, he founded Phoenix Settlement, a communal ashram that served as the location for much of his socio-political and spiritual work.

When Gandhi returned to India to join the Freedom Struggle he left behind his son, and Ela’s father, Manilal Gandhi, to run the Phoenix Settlement and edit the Indian Opinion newspaper that his father founded in 1903.

Of her grandfather, Ela Gandhi, now aged 72 but still full of energy, recalls “He had time for me as a granddaughter and listened to me seriously.”  Her grandfather went on to inspire world leaders such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, as well as ordinary citizens of the world.

During South Africa's struggle against apartheid, Ela Gandhi spent nine years under house arrest. Today, she is a prominent peace activist and served as a Member of Parliament in South Africa from 1994-2004. In 2007, she was conferred the Padma Bhushan award from the Government of India, which is India's third highest civilian award.

Ela Gandhi on violence, women and children, and sustainability


“We witness massive ecological destruction because of planning that does not take into account the essential values of environment but goes with the values of greed. Certainly, one realises the truth in Gandhiji's words: “The world has sufficient to meet the needs of all but not enough to meet the greed of anyone.”  


“The Gandhi Development Trust is saddened by the alleged murder of model Reeva Steenkamp by gold medalist paralympian, Oscar Pistorius.

Steenkamp's death by the hands of her boyfriend has reinforced the unfortunate fact that South Africa is battling with the deep-rooted culture of violence… possession of arms such as a gun lead to these kinds of irreversible consequences. Fifty six percent of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners. A third of those victims' partners demonstrated a prior history of violence in the relationship.”


“Capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender, nor (the) Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone will change the system.”


“Children learn values from what they see and experience at home and at school … About 100,000 children in South Africa live in child-headed households. About 9 million children live in homes with absentee fathers.”


The Australia India Institute is a proud partner in Ela Gandhi’s visit to Australia.


Christopher Kremmer (03) 9035-9624 or 0481-032-731 (m)

Alexandra Hansen (03) 9035-8681 or 0423951135 (m)