Boodan Movement

Acharya-Vinoba Bhave While studying Sanskrit in Varanasi, he joined Mohandas K. Gandhi as a disciple. At Gandhijis request Bhave resisted British Wartime regulations in 1940 and spent nearly five years in prison .After Gandhi died (1948), Bhave was widely accepted as his successor. More Interested in land reform, accomplished voluntarily, than in politics, he founded in 1951, the Bhoodan Movement, or land-gift movement. He travelled thousands of miles by foot accepting donations of land for redistribution to the landless. By 1969, the Bhoodan had collected over 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) of land for redistribution. The focus of the Bhoodan (land gift) movement in an improving the position of the most submerged and dis-advantaged class in the country side, the utterly landless.

Assuming that there were 50 million landless peasants in India. Vinobaji set himself the task of collecting in land gifts of 50 million acres, so that one acre could be given to each landless peasant with an average of five members. Each such family, it was hoped, would end up with 5 acres. He called in Gandhian terms upon the landowners to feel compassion for the plight of the landless and to demonstrate their comparison by giving to the Bhoodan movement one sixth of their holdings. Since roughly 300 million acres were under cultivation in India, such gifts, if made all over the country, would total up in the required 50 million acres.

Under the guidance of Bhoodan workers, these gifts would then be suitably redistributed. At every phase of human history, the ideology like distribution between rich and poor has been found. This ideology has dominated the few noble hearted humanists. They have made attempts in various ways to touch the hearts of the rich people of society. In modem Indian history, Gandhiji propagated the ideal with a new form giving it shape of socio-political and moral ideology.

Aim and Objectives:

To bring about a social order based on equality of opportunities by ensuring balanced economic distribution. Decentralisation of economic holdings and powers. Vinoba Bhave writes, while describing the objectives of Bhoodan movement, “In fact, objective is of three fold.” Firstly, power should be decentralised from village to village. Secondly, everybody should have a right on land and property. Thirdly, there should be no distribution in the matter of wages etc. Vinoba Bhave was interested in the creation of a new social order.

Bhoodan Movement and its Evaluation:

The inspiration for Bhoodan had come to Vinoba Bhave in 1951, when he was touring the Telengana districts of Hyderabad. This was the area where the communists had recently called off an “activist” agrarian campaign during which a good few landlords had lost both their lands and their lives. Through Bhoodan, Vinoba Bhave aimed to show the peasantry that there was an efficacious alternative to the communist program. The movement got off to a good start from 1952 to 1954. More than 3 million acres of land were received as Bhoodan during these periods. But the movement could not continue with that vigour and success due to certain weaknesses.

The fundamental weakness of Bhoodan movement was that its appeal was directed not to the poor and landless, but to the rich and landlords. When the Bhoodan campaigners marched into the village of the well off, they made a good show by giving away a few patches of land. But they are careful to retain securely in their grasp the holdings and essential economic operations upon which their control of the village rests. So the voluntary donations of lands were not the generous offerings of the rich. In many States the landlords donated lands to escape from the ceiling laws. They have “no free will”. Another weakness is that the depressed people and the exploited section of the society have already exhausted patience. They are in no mood to indefinitely wait for the positive results of the movement.

Advantages:

            1. It is a bold step towards solving the problems of landless labours in very peaceful manner.

            2. It helps in bringing more land under plough. Even uncultivable land is cultivated.

3. It helps in the direction of tax burden. When no compensation amount is to be paid, less amount will be needed on that account; which means less burden which when viewed In Indian context where the people are already over taxed, means much.

4. It helps in reducing exploitation of the poor cultivators by the rich zamindars.