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Universidad de Santiago welcomed Ela Gandhi

  • Ela Gandhi, renowned peace activist and granddaughter of one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century, visited Universidad de Santiago in the context of an activity organized by the International Center of Social and Cooperative Economy of the Faculty of Administration and Economics of the university. 



Mahatma Gandhi is one of the leading figures of the 20th century, for his nonviolent resistance, activism and his fight against British imperialism. But one less well-known aspect of his life is that he was an economist too: all his political activity was filled with a clear economic theory that has been called Gandhian economics.

This type of economics is characterized by the rejection of the concept of the human being as a rational actor always seeking to maximize material self-interest that underlies classical economic thinking. 

This was the central idea of the lecture given by Ela Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, at the Aula Magna of Universidad de Santiago de Chile.

On the occasion, Dr Juan Manuel Zolezzi, President of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, said that he was proud to welcome Ela Gandhi at the university, recognizing her activism in the struggle for democracy, peace and development of her home country, South Africa, and her work as Member of Parliament and Chancellor of Durban University of Technology.

“Having Ela Gandhi here, at this university, reminds us of the role of our institution and our own struggle over more than a century and a half to have a fairer, more equitable and supportive country, where workers and youngsters can have better life opportunities,” President Zolezzi said. He added that Ela Gandhi’s struggle for the independence of her country and her message of peace and nonviolence should guide us when we fight for the highest goals and ideals to which we can aspire: freedom, and dignity for everyone.

For his part, Mario Radrigán, director of the Center of Social and Cooperative Economy of the Faculty of Administration and Economics of Universidad de Santiago (CIESCOOP FAE-USACH), presented a brief overview of Ela Gandhi’s life, who stood out for her fight for justice during the Apartheid in South Africa. In 1975, she was subjected to house arrest for a total of nine years. She had an important role in the process of transition towards a post-apartheid state in South Africa, as a member of the Transitional Executive Committee and then as a Member of Parliament in that country. Later, she developed a 24-hour program against domestic violence and founded the Gandhi Development Trust. She has received many acknowledgments and awards for her humanitarian contributions, like the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award and the Community of Christ International Peace Award. 

At Universidad de Santiago, she was awarded the New Civilización Prize by Univérsitas Nueva Civilización. This award honors people who have made significant contributions to knowledge and who have designed innovative responses to face the big problems that affect humanity.


Translated by Marcela Contreras

Valentina del Campo Escárate