Bhoodan  Movement carried forward the idea of Trusteeship

Urgent Need for Bhoodan like Movement

Siby K. Joseph  

Siby K Joseph
Siby K Joseph an eminent Gandhian scholar

Gandhi advocated Trusteeship to avoid a bloody revolution in India and Vinoba’s path was Bhoodan. There is an urgent need for a new Bhoodan movement or ideal of trusteeship in the face of emerging challenges in India.

April 18 was the Bhoodan Day. It was on this due to a grand gesture of a landlord the idea of Bhoodan Movement or land gift movement born in the mind of Acharya  Vinoba Bhave .
Vinoba  was in  Shivrampalli village on the outskirts of  Hyderabad to participate in the thirdannual conference of All India Sarvodaya Mandal on 13, 14 and 15 April. Vinoba got first hand information about the bloody struggle for land   by extremist forces which was going on there.
He was asked to undertake a padyatra to stop violence and bloodshed. On  April 18  Vinoba headed to Pochampilli village in Nalgonda district of Telangana .  Forty  Harijan families without having  any piece of land  narrated   their problems before him . He realized without solving their requirement of land a permanent peace cannot be attained.
In the evening prayer meeting, Vinoba asked if anyone was ready to give two acres each to the landless people for their livelihood. A landowner named Ramachandra Reddy came forward and agreed to give 100 acres. Thus the person responsible for the beginning of the movement was Ramachandra Reddy. Ramachandra Reddy’s name became a synonym for Bhoodan.  In Pochampilli village we can see the statue of  both Ramachandra Reddy and Acharya  Vinoba
Bhave. Ramachandra Reddy    became  a true instrument for a right cause and Vinoba Bhave was a moving spirit. It was not out of fear of bloodshed, people donated land. It was the power of love of nonviolence. Vinoba ‘s appeal directly went into the hearts of the people. In 1952, Bhoodan evolved into the ‘Gramadan’ movement in which entire villages were donated.
Lanza del Vasto , a European disciple of Gandhi who was accompanying Vinoba in the Bhoodan movement  wrote  in the chapter “ Bhudan Yagna or the Fire Catches” of his book Gandhi to Vinoba : The New Pilgrimage.
And so he went from village to village telling people who flocked to hear him:
“The earth is like the air, the rain and the sun. She belongs to all, because she belongs to no one except God, who has made her. If there is any one of her sons who can claim to possess her rather than others, that man is undoubtedly the one who can cultivate her with his hands.  I  think I  know of men amongst you who keep more land they and their sons can cultivate… They stand as an obstacle between the worker and his work, between the man who starves and the bread he needs. Let my words fly to your hearts like the arrow of Rama. ”These words of Vinoba entered the hearts of the people and created a nonviolent revolution in this country which resulted in the collection of 47 lakh acres of land. Prof. Ramjee Singh,
veteran Gandhian scholar in a foreword to the  book edited by Siby  K. Joseph and others  on trusteeship wrote :

“Gandhi’s spiritual heir Acharya Vinoba Bhave started the land gift mission on the line of trusteeship. He achieved a great success in his mission. After Bhoodan, he initiated many other smaller movements for gift of income and wealth, labour, learning etc. But the gift of the entire wealth of a village republic to community ownership was the most practical and revolutionary step in this direction which was supported by all sections of people and political parties in an all party meeting at Yelwal in Mysore in the year 1957. In the meantime, some isolated attempts were also made to introduce workers participation in some factories. Though the Gramdan movement could not make a good progress, it is the hope for a village paradise in India. Without
Gramdan, we could not think of Gramswaraj, which is the goal of Sarvodaya or Gandhian Socialism. In a sense, this is also the fulfilment of Gandhian principle of trusteeship in practice.”
Seventy three years have passed since the movement. There is no improvement in the sight of the poor and landless. The 2011 Socio Economic and Caste Census shows that 56% of households in rural India do not own any agricultural land. The NSSO survey on Land and Livestock Holdings as a part of its 70th round (January-December 2013) revealed that the top 7.18% of households own more than 46.71% of the land. It was told to the Parliament on February 3, 2023; no record of the number of landless agricultural labourers in India. With the onslaught of crony capitalism in recent years there has been a lot of land acquisition in the name of infrastructure and industrial development.
Gandhi advocated Trusteeship to avoid a bloody revolution in India and Vinoba’s path was Bhoodan. There is an urgent need for a new Bhoodan movement or ideal of trusteeship in the face of emerging challenges in India.

 Dr. Siby K. Joseph is Director, Sri Jamnalal Bajaj Memorial Library and Research Centre
for Gandhian Studies, Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan, Sevagram,Wardha-
442102,  Maharashtra Email:

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