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Bhoodan Movement: Bloodless Revolution


Acharya Vinoba Bhave had been seeing the disintegration of India's economy, the precarious status of the country's agriculture, and the cruel and horrific poverty of the landless millions during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Vinoba had harnessed the prodigious movement of Bhoodan intending to develop a shift in man's moral and spiritual perspectives via large-scale and widespread societal realisation of the socio-economic ideals of human life. The concept of Bhoodan came to Vinoba as a revelation during his Telangana trip in 1951. India's economic life could not be reorganised until the fundamental land issue was addressed in the interests of the tiller and the landless.

Indian society's economic structure resembles an inverted pyramid (Jayaprakash Narayan). At the moment, the millions of have-nots and landless at the bottom are unable to establish any substantial or strong basis for the sustainable and stable economic system. It is critical that the foundation of the structure be strengthened by integrating the impoverished masses and the top-heavy layers, which must be created in conformity with the principle structure.

The highest levels of the economic structure are wide with a large concentration of economic power, whereas the lower levels are constricted to a single point as each higher level from the bottom upwards broadens into growing economic power.The benefits are sucked up at the level of large landowners and wealthy peasants, with little trickling down to the poor and none reaching the landless.

Gramdan and Bhoodan

Whereas Bhoodan, which means "land gift," seeks to achieve social change by individual acts of charity, Gramdan, which means "village gift," seeks to achieve social revolution through collective community choices that call for the abolition of private land ownership.

Individual land gifts are accumulated in Bhoodan and subsequently transferred to the landless, preserving the notion of private ownership on both the donors' and the recipients' sides. However, in Gramdan villages, all village land was to be pooled and vested in the community.

If the system had been successful on a large scale, India would have made significant progress toward Gandhi's aim of rural autonomy and village governance.

The Village Development Movement constitutes three stages:

  • The term "prapti" refers to people who have been persuaded to join Gramdan and surrender ownership to the village council.

  • “pushti” means that the village people implement the primary conditions of Gramdan, i.e. the redistribution of one twentieth of the land among the landless. At this point, gifts are verified and titles are legally transferred.

  • "nirman" denotes that all required resources have been mobilised via the Gram Sabha (village assembly) in order to begin constructive development programmes.


The purpose of the movement was to establish social and economic justice. There will always be disparities in the resources that people have, which will lead to additional inequalities depending on how these resources are being used. Because people's capabilities and contexts vary, this kind of inequality is inevitable.

However, the problem of landless farmers in India was significant since it prevented a level playing field; these people lacked the basic resource to better their status. Another problem is that of marginal and small farmers, whose holding size is insufficient for farming even for subsistence. Bhoodan movement enabled awareness and realisation within the society that made people sensitive to the plight of landless cultivators. In true essence it cannot be called successful but it was fairly remarkable.


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