[Land Reforms] Bhoodan, Gramdan, Vinoba Bhave: Achievements, obstacles, limitations

polity23 Comments

Laxmikanth (English)Laxmikanth Hindi
  1. Prologue
  2. Bhoodan Movement (Donation of Land)
    1. Bhoodan: Mechanism/procedure/features
    2. Bhoodan: Positive
    3. Bhoodan: Obstacles, Limitations, Problems
  3. Gramdan (Donation of the Entire Village)
    1. Gramdan: Concept/Principles
    2. Gramdan Mechanism
    3. Gramdan: Benefits
  4. Pardi Satyagraha, Gujarat, 50s
  5. Mock Questions

Prologue

  • So far we’ve seen: British Tenure system, peasant revolts and three main land reforms after independence viz. (1) Zamindari Abolition (2) Land ceiling (3) Tenancy protection Acts.
  • In this article, we’ll check some people’s/NGO/Civil society movements for land reforms in India. Their achievements/limitations. by the Naxalbari related matter ignored here. You’ll find neat coverage ot it under September competition under internal security folder click me  
  • In the next article we’ll come back to government actions: cooperative farming, consolidation of land holdings and computerization of records.
Bhoodan Gramdan

Timeline: Civil society / NGO movements for land reforms after Independence

Bhoodan Movement (Donation of Land)

1951First Bhoodan in village Pochampalli, Nalgonda District, Andhra (the hotbed of Telengana movement)By local Zamindar V. Ramchandra Reddy to Vinoba Bhave.
1953Jayaprakash Narayan withdrew from active politics to join the Bhoodan movement

Bhoodan movement had two components:

  1. Collect land as gift from zamindars and rich farmers.
  2. Redistribute that gifted/donated land among the landless farmers.

Bhoodan: Mechanism/procedure/features

  1. (Hierarchy) Vinoba: Sarvodaya Samaj=> Pradesh Bhoodan Committees in each region=> local committees and individual social workers @grassroot.
  2. He and his followers were to do padayatra (walk on foot from village to village). Persuade the larger landowners to donate at least one-sixth of their lands.
  3. Target= 50 million acres. (~1/6 of total cultivable land in India)
  4. When a Zamindar/rich farmer gifts/donates a land, the Bhoodan worker would prepare a deed.
  5. These Deeds forwarded to Vinoba Bhave @Sevagram for signature.
  6. Bhoodan Worker took help of Gram Panchayat, PAtwari (village accountant) to survey the beneficiaries and land fertility.
  7. First preference given to landless agricultural laborers, then to farmers with insufficient land.
  8. A date was fixed, entire village gathered and the beneficiary family was given land.
  9. Those who receive the donation are asked to sign a printed application requesting for land, after which they are presented with certificates of having received land.
  10. No fees charged from the beneficiary.
  11. Beneficiary was expected to cultivate the land for atleast 10 years. He should start within three years of the receipt of land.
  12. These Rules/procedures were relaxed by taking local conditions, cultures in account.

Many state governments made legislation to facilitate donation and distribution of Bhoodan land. Example: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, U.P., Delhi and Himachal Pradesh.

Subsequently, the movement was widened into Gramdan. States again passed special legislation for management of Gramdan villages.

Bhoodan: Positive

  • In the initial years the movement achieved a considerable degree of success, especially in North India- UP, Bihar.
  • By 1956: receiving over 4 million acres of land as donation.
  • By 1957: ~4.5 million acres.
  • The movement was popularised in the belief that land is a gift of nature and it belonged to all.
  • The donors of land are not given any compensation. This movement helped to reduce the gap in haves and have-nots in rural areas.
  • This movement was un-official. The landlords were under no compulsion to donate their land, it was a voluntary movement.  One of the very few attempts after independence to bring about land reform through a movement
  • Promoted the Gandhian the idea of trusteeship or that all land belonged to God.
  • Communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad
    • the Bhoodan and Gramdan movement stimulated political and other activity by the peasant masses
    • has created a favourable atmosphere for political propaganda and agitation
    • for redistribution of the land
    • for abolition of private ownership of land
    • for the development of agricultural producers’ cooperatives.

Bhoodan: Obstacles, Limitations, Problems

Slow progress
  • After ’56 movement lost its momentum.
  • While nearly 4.5 million acres of Bhoodan land was available- barely 6.5 lakh acres was actually distributed among 200,000 families (1957)
  • In some cases the donors took back their land from the Bhoodan workers for certain reasons.
  • This created doubts in the minds of some people about the continuity of the movement.
Bribesvillage leaders, or allotting authorities, demanded money from the poor for recommending their names for allotment. As a result, many underserving villagers also got land e.g those already having land/ those involved in trade-commerce.
GreedBhoodan movement created land hunger among landless.Some of them applied multiple times in the name of wives, children etc. to get more and more free land.
Donating bogus landbig landlords donated those land which were unfit for cultivation (or under court litigation). Such donations served no real purpose.
Disputed land
  • Sometimes Bhoodan workers would even accept disputed land as gift. Without verification.
  • Later the Matter would be stuck in court litigations and beneficiary would get nothing.
Politicization
  • In the later phase, Bhoodan workers got associated with one or another political parties. Some of them tried to ‘use’ the Bhoodan organization as a means to gain political clout and dividends at the time of election.
  • Thus as the years passed, Bhoodan workers lost credibility and respect among villagers=>land gifts declined.
Bribes
  • Since Bhoodan workers became political agents, Some landlords / Ex-Zamindars donated land as ‘bribe’ to Bhoodan workers- with hope of getting favourable returns e.g. ticket in local election, road-contracts, building contracts etc.
  • And if they (landlords) were not given such favours- they’d forcibly take back the Bhoodan land from the beneficiary later on.
Support
  • Mere allotment of land=insufficient. Because landless farmer also needed seeds, fertilizer, irrigation etc.
  • Often the beneficiary couldn’t arrange loans for these inputs.
bureaucratic apathy
  • District officials were slow and inefficient in finishing the formalities of Bhoodan land transfers.
  • donated land remained idle for a number of years and the revenue for it had to be paid by the donor.
Fragmentation
  1. The average size of land given to beneficiary=0.5 to 3 acres.
  2. Result: land fragmentation + diseconomies of scale + ‘disguised unemployment’ without any noticeable rise in agro-production.
Marxist Criticism
  1. Bhoodan’s main purpose was to ‘serve as a brake on the revolutionary struggle of the peasants’
  2. Thus idea of Bhoodan= reactionary, class collaborationist.
Missed the bigger picture
  1. Bhoodan based on Gandhian idea of trusteeship. Some Socialists wanted this movement to realize the potential of trusteeship and launch mass civil disobedience against injustice.
  2. The Sarvodaya Samaj, however, on the whole failed to make this transition: to build an active large-scale mass movement that would generate irresistible pressure for social transformation in large parts of the country.
  • All these loopholes, slowly and steadily, made the movement dysfunctional.
  • 1999: Bihar government dissolved the State Bhoodan Committee for its inability to distribute even half the Bhoodan land available over the past thirty-eight years.
  • Thus, Vinoba’s lofty ideal remained more as a philosophy and was never realized fully.

Gramdan (Donation of the Entire Village)

First Gramdan1952: by the village of Mongroth in U.P.1955: Orissa, Koratpur district.

At a later phase, this progamme was extended to other states in Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Gramdan: Concept/Principles

  1. Gramdan may be defined as an experiment in collective village living.
  2. Original idea comes from Gandhi’s reply to Jamnalal Bajaj: “it is far better for a hundred families in a village to cultivate their land collectively and divide the income therefrom than to divide the land any how into a hundred portions”.
  3. Vinoba Bhave popularized ^this concept of Gandhi.

Gramdan Mechanism

The villagers have to sign a declaration saying, “We are vesting the ownership of all our land to the “Gram Sabha” of the village.

  1. This Gram Sabha/ Village council will unanimously nominate ten to fifteen persons who will form an executive Committee.
  2. This executive Committee will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the village.
  3. The decisions of the Committee will be ratified by the Council.

In other words, Gramdan=A Gram Sabha like institution collectively owned and managed entire land/farms of the villagers.

Gramdan: Benefits

  1. In an ideal gramdan village, there will be no landowners, and no absentee landlords.
  2. The labourers will give all their earnings to the village community, which will then distribute it according to needs.
  3. Thus, gramdan acts as the ideal unit for putting the principles in the practice, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.
By 1960Approx.Gramdan Villages
Orissa1900+
MH600
Kerala550
Andhra480+
Madras250

Gramdan movement was considered superior to the Bhoodan movement because:

BHOODANGRAMDAN
land fragmentation, inefficient cultivation, distribution of poverty, decline in marketable surplus , donation of uncultivable land, legal and other difficulties of redistribution, etc.Nope
NopeEconomies of scale
Benefits only the person who gets the landSarvodaya of entire village. Everyone benefits.
Nope
  • possible to correlate with economic planning in the country.
  • 2nd FYP recognized that Gramdan village have great significance for co-operative village development.

Limitation of Gramdan? Gramdan was successful mainly in villages where class differentiation had not yet emerged and there was little if any disparity in ownership of land or other property. E.g. Tribal villages. But didn’t find cooperation from other villages in the plains or villages near urban centers.

Pardi Satyagraha, Gujarat, 50s

WHO
  1. Socialist workers: Iswarbhai Desai, Ashok Mehta.
  2. Kisan Panchayat: a non-political body with no affiliation to any political party.
  3. Tribals from Pardi and Dharmpur Taluka
WHEN1953-1967

Why?

  1. 75% of the agro land was owned by 100 big landlords.
  2. These landlords were not interested in farming. They kept the land as such- so grass automatically grew and sold profitably in Bombay fodder trade.
  3. Local tribals would get labour work in such ‘fodder-farms’ for only 1-2 months during harvesting. They remained jobless and starving for remaining months. While the landlords made decent profit with almost none investment or efforts.

OBJECTIVES/FEATURES/ACTION:

  • Redistribution of land was not on their agenda. (Themselves declared it)
  • Satyagrahi would enter in the private land and start tilling to grow foodcrops and court arrest.
  • Tribals to boycott grass cutting work. even outside labour would not be allowed do the work. Picketing. As a result, the grass dried up at many places.
  • With time, movement found support from public and political parties
  • Bhoodan and Gramdan movements also started but failed thanks to poor response from landlords.

Result? Almost #EPICFAIL because:

  1. 1960, Gujarat created out of Bombay state. New state government made some promises=>Iswarbhai and other Satyagrahi joined the Congress party. Hence momentum/pressure was lost.
  2. 1965: War between India Pakistan. The CM (Balwant Rai Mehta) died in plane crash. New CM (Hitendra Desai) did not show much interest in fulfilling promises made by previous CM.
  3. Landlords went to Gujarat Highcourt court. Although HC rejected their plea, but state government did not show any urgency to implement the agreements.
  4. 1966: Ishwarbhai Desai decide to quit congress and launch a new Satyagraha, but he died. And others were unable to provide effective leadership/direction to the movement.
  5. 1967: A new agreement between the government, the landlords and the Satyagrahis. But the implementation carried out at a snail’s pace.

Mock Questions

12/15m

  1. Critically examine the philosophy, the concept and the working of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements in India.
  2. It is far better for a hundred families in a village to cultivate their land collectively and divide the income therefrom than to divide the land any how into a hundred portions. Comment.
  3. Write a note on the Lacunae in Bhoodan and Gramdan Movements.
  4. Bhoodan was an experiment in Gandhian idea of trusteeship. Comment.
  5. Evaluate the impact of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements as measures of land reforms. In what way Gramdan was superior to Bhoodan movement?
  6. Discuss the significant movements initiated by people for land reforms in India after independence.
  7. critically evaluate non-governmental initiatives in the area of land reform

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha


So far 23 Comments posted

    1. Pradeep

      Geetanjali. Your score is 78.

  1. मनु झा

    Mrunal bhai , My best wishes for a Happy New Year to you and your ever increasing list of subscribers.

  2. dr pavan

    thanks to evry one for their contribution to oct. monthly writing competition. your information is verily helpful. thank you.

  3. AJAY KR. SINGH

    apart from land reforms welfare what are the
    others area where such movements can be initiated ?

  4. parul rai

    I m from Nagpur but my center is hyderabad…

    Anyone taking mains exam in hyderabad???
    Where’s ur center…..

  5. shailesh surve

    happy new year sir…
    very nice article
    thank you

  6. pankaj verma

    May u Live Long:

    I have been following your blog for two years now and it’s a fact that topics covered on your blog r much better in comprehensiveness and contemporaneous than those of coachings and books in the market .Besides ,your writing skills and presentation is so lucid and attractive.Thanks a lot for ur endeavour.Hope u will continue with your benevolent work…

  7. vinoth

    No more articles till new year???

  8. yuvika

    can’t we me mention abt naxalbari mvt here ?? as it ws initially started to initiate land reforms??? please tell I m comfused

  9. meenakshi

    hieeee…….. i read ur crrent affairs notes… for p.0. there was a word spelled majoori …….. wat was that??

    1. Divyanshu

      the word means majduri(labour
      )

  10. Deepti

    Sir plzzz publish some more articles on ethics???? All these articles are really beneficial for us.. reAlly thanx

  11. rajni

    sir, thanks for providing such materials to aspirants. but sir, how to organise your posts for revision just before exams. kindly help, as taking print of all posts is a tedious and costly job.

  12. sara

    anyone having center at rohini sec 23 … would like to share cab from karol bagh?

  13. shipra

    Hi Mrunal !! Can I find archieve of all/ most of your articles at one place in PDF form ?

  14. arun

    thank u sir….

  15. ashish sharma

    happy new year sir 🙂

  16. Karthik

    Mrunal bhai,
    Accept my humble pranams for this article. Solid 10 marks attempted thanks to this piece. 🙂

  17. anugya singh

    dear sir ,
    i am not able to download current affairs material 2012 from this site for international relations topic !! can u give me a fresh link?

  18. shakeel Ahamed

    If our land is not donated upto date in gramdani village then gram sabha occupy my land please guide me and what is the rule with copy of rule please send in my e mail address I will thanks to you.

  19. HASAN MAHDI

    RESPECTED SIR / MAM I HAVE COMPLETED MY POST GRADUATION (M.A.) FROM ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY .
    SO I WANT TO STUDY FOR CIVIL SUPERVISES .
    PLZ SUSSES ME FOR USEFUL BOOK .
    THANK

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