Importance of Bhoodan movement in India

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QuestionIllustrate the importance of Bhoodan movement in India as a law-making and social movement. – 20 November 2021


After independence, the condition of the farmers became very pathetic due to the economic inequality arising out of inequality in agricultural holdings. In order to improve the condition of the landless farmers, Vinoba Bhave started the Bhoodan and Gramdan movements in 1951 from Pochampally village of present day Telangana, so that the landless poor farmers could live a dignified life by connecting with the main stream of the society. This was done for the first time in 1951 through the first constitutional amendment and as a result of land distribution and consolidation (ceiling) laws made in different states. Apart from this, a social movement named Bhoodan-Andolan was started in Telangana by Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1951.

The movement was based on Gandhian philosophy, and was non-violent in nature. Its purpose was to persuade the wealthy landlords to voluntarily give a small part of their land to the landless.

Importance of Bhoodan Movement:

  • Through this movement a total of 40 lakh acres of land was distributed across the country in a span of 20 years.
  • This encouraged the redistribution of land, allowing agricultural laborers to own the land. As a result, agricultural production increased.
  • This central idea came in the minds of the people that the land is the gift of the earth and it is the right of all.
  • It encouraged Sarvodaya Samaj. Sarvodaya Samaj was a non-violent and constructive program to transform the social structure of India through a revolutionary change of values.
  • With the passage of time, it expanded its scope to include the Gramdan movement, where Gandhiji’s idea of trusteeship was emphasized.

Vinoba Bhave was a Gandhian, so he undertook padyatras in different states and urged the landlords and landlords to distribute the additional land among the poor farmers. The target of donating five crore acres of land was set in the Bhoodan movement.

Some of the zamindars, who owned several villages, offered to give the entire village to the landless, called gramdan. In these villages the collective ownership of the land was accepted by the people. It started from Odisha. While on the one hand this movement was successful to a great extent, on the other hand some landlords took the wrong advantage of it to avoid demarcation of land.

Challenges related to Bhoodan Movement:

  • Often the donors donated their useless and barren land just for the name. This defeats its original purpose.
  • Instead of imbibing democratic values, it only reinforced the old values of master-servant relationship.
  • The goal of Bhoodan was only to help the landless villagers. It did not include the semi-landless or those villagers who had small land area and still worked as tillage labourers.
  • Later the movement witnessed various problems like slow progress, bribery, donation of fake land etc.

Initially this movement became very popular but after 1960 it weakened because the creative potential of the movement was not used in the right direction. Of the 45 acres of land donated, very few could be used by the landless farmers, as only more barren land was donated. Apart from this, people also donated such land which was stuck in legal litigation.

While on the one hand these movements tried to remove inequality by distributing land, on the other hand, in areas where the aspirations of the people could not be fulfilled, the foundation of movements like Naxalism was laid, which increased class struggle and violence. However, according to some records, 23 lakh acres of donated land is yet to be distributed. These should be distributed at the earliest to solve the agrarian crisis.

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