Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Melbourne Community Rejects Proposal to Install Gandhi’s Statue

Gandhi sculpture in Canberra, Australia.

The local community in Melbourne has turned down a proposal to install a statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Dandenong railway station in the city.

The proposal to put up the statue, floated by the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria (FIAV), was rejected in a survey conducted among the local population. Over 50 percent of the 900 people who took part in the survey, conducted by the Greater Dandenong’s city council, said no to the proposal of installing a life-size bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

The details of the survey, which closed on June 7, were put up recently before a meeting of the Indian Prescient Task Force led by Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams, South Asia Times reported.

At least 38 percent of the participants in the survey belong to Dandenong, which is home to over 52,000 people of Indian origin, FIAV’s president Vasan Srinivasan told SBS Punjabi.

“Being an Indian, it is difficult to digest that our own community has said no to a Gandhi statue here in Melbourne,” Srinivasan was quoted as saying by the publication. “It is pretty uneasy, but since we went in for the democratic process, we don’t have a choice now, we will have to abide by the community’s decision,” he added.

Another plan of the FIAV, to install a statue of the 12th century Indian philosopher Basava, has now taken a back seat, with Srinivasan expressing his concern that if the community is unwilling to put up a statue of Gandhi, they may not agree to Guru Basava’s statue either.

However, the FIAV is not ready to give up hope just yet. It is looking forward to November elections, when the fate of Victoria’s leader of opposition Matthew Guy will get clear. If he wins, the Indian community hopes to get the promised Indian Community Center where Gandhi’s statue can perhaps then be installed.

However, three large scale artworks, including one on Gandhi, were recently commissioned and completed by the Dandenong Council in Little India, Foster Street, to lend the area the flavor of the Indian subcontinent, according to the South Asia Times. A temporary mural of Gandhi was finished by the famous street artist Julian Cavijo on a former substation within the Indian cultural precinct on Foster Street.

Statues of Gandhi can also be spotted in several others areas of Australia, such as Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide.

In April this year, a digital interactive exhibition based on Gandhi’s life was organized at Victoria’s Immigration Museum in Melbourne, complete with interactive “touch walls” to extend his message of non-violence to the younger audience. The exhibition, titled “Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant,” was also attended by noted peace activist Ela Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi.