A crowd of students got the opportunity to see Ela Gandhi give a speech in the Orion Suite of the Bronco Student Center on Nov. 20.

The granddaughter of Mohandas (Mahatma) Karamchand Gandhi, who fought for India’s independence through peaceful means, Ela Gandhi is a well-respected social activist and political figure in her own right.

She is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest awards given to a civilian by the government of India. She’s also a former member of the South African Parliament. Nowadays, Gandhi serves as a trustee of the Gandhi Development of Trust and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust.

Thanks to the Ahimsa Center, which focuses on interdisciplinary teaching and nonviolence and its director, Tara Sethia, Gandhi was able to come to campus to speak to Cal Poly students.

Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mohandas (Mahatma) Karamchand Gandhi, speaks to students. (Isac Kim | The Poly Post)

Sethia, who is a personal friend of Gandhi, said she was glad Gandhi could come to campus for a second visit, eight years after the first one.

“Ela Gandhi came to speak to students because her heart is in the same place as the Ahimsa Center’s heart, and that’s what connects us,” Sethia said.

Students were also glad that Gandhi was able to visit. Before Gandhi spoke, Allen Wang, a third-year architecture student, expressed his excitement.

“I’m excited to hear about her experiences with her grandfather, and what she has done by learning from his ideas,” Wang said.

During her speech, Gandhi spoke about the meaningful experiences she has had in her life.

She recounted her childhood with her grandfather, telling funny stories and valuable lessons she learned from him.

Gandhi also spoke about how we as a society can deal with issues such as inequality, homelessness, poverty and violence. She said the way to do this is in a peaceful manner; peace unifies us and brings about the best results, she said.

Gandhi also answered questions students had about her life and concerns students had about the inequalities facing our world.

After Gandhi’s moving speech, students applauded Gandhi and were thankful for her visit.

Jasmine Araujo, a third-year biology student, said Gandhi’s speech was impactful.

“I really enjoyed the event because it was interesting to hear Ela Gandhi’s perspective on everything,” Araujo said.

Gandhi ended with saying that the future of the world lies with young people.

“I think young people hold the future of the world in their hands, and it is very important for them to look at how they would address issues of the future, such as inequality, peacefully,” she said. “We have a lot of bad givens in this world, so we have to change what we have right now and make the future a brighter place.”

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