Bhoodan and Gramdan movements

The Bhoodan and Gramdan movements led by Vinoba Bhave attempted to bring about a “non-violent revolution” in India’s land reforms programme. These integrated movements were an attempted to implement land reforms by urging the landed classes to voluntarily surrender a part of their land to the landless. The Bhoodan was started in 1951. The problems faced by the landless harijans were presented to Vinoba Bhave in Pochampalli, Telangana.

In response to appeal by Vinoba Bhave, some land owing class agreed to voluntary donation of their some part of land. This led to the birth of Bhoodan Movement. Central and State governments had provided the necessary assistance to Vinoba Bhave. Later, Bhoodan gave way to the Gramdan movement which began in 1952. The objective of the Gramdan movement was to persuade landowners and leaseholders in each village to renounce their land rights and all the lands would become the property of a village association for egalitarian redistribution and joint cultivation. A village is declared as Gramdan when at least 75 per cent of its residents with 51 per cent of the land signify their approval in writing for Gramdan. The first village to come under Gramdan, was Magroth, Haripur, Uttar Pradesh.

The movement received widespread political patronage. Several state government passed laws by aimed at Gramdan and Bhoodan. The movement reached their peak around 1969. After 1969 Gramdan and Bhoodan lost its importance due to the shift from being a purely voluntary movement to a government supported programme. In 1967, after the withdrawal of Vinoba Bhave from the movement, it lost its mass base. In the later period, landlords had mostly donated land under dispute or unfit for cultivation. The whole movement was treated as something different from the general scheme of development rather than combining with the existing institutional means. This separation from the mainstream scheme seriously affected its continuation as a policy.

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