Vinoba Bhave was born in Gagode village, Raigad, Maharashtra. A keen follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave took part in the freedom struggle and started the Bhoodan movement in 1951. He was an avid social reformer throughout his life. Vinoba Bhave, a humble spiritual leader, the first non-violent resister to the Britishers and reformer of Independent India started what we know as the Bhoodan movement – a landmark in Indian history where its mission was to persuade wealthy landowners to willingly give a small share of their land to the landless people .About four years later after india gained independence, Vinoba Bhave carried out a unique movement of his own. He travelled across all of India to convince the wealthy land-owners or land-lords to share a small area of their land with their poor and downtrodden neighbours with the condition that they can’t sell the land. Over a span of 20 years, a total of 4 million acres of land was shared across the country through this movement. Bhoodan literally means a donation of land. As implied by the name, in this movement, landlords voluntarily give up land to be distributed to landless labourers, who would then cultivate the land..
How it started
Bhoodan or Land Gift movement began with Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1951 in Telangana. An inspirational icon, Vinoba Bhave’s work & dedication impacted people all across the country. He vowed to life-long celibacy as well as selfless service for others when he was as young as 10 years old. As it is said about him, “Perhaps none of Gandhi’s followers have created so many worshippers of Truth & Non-violence, so many genuine workers as has Vinoba Bhave.” It all began on April 18th 1951, which we now know as the historic day this movement began. Vinoba Bhave stepped into the Nalgonda district, which was the epicenter of communist activity in the region. He stayed at Pochampalli, a village with about 700 families who have him a hearty welcome. He visited the ‘untouchables’ or Harijan colony, where they asked for 80 acres of land for 40 families. As documented in history, while the discussion was going on, Ram Chandra Reddy who was the local landlord, got up and exclaimed, “I will give you 100 acres for these people.” This made Vinoba come up with an idea, that this may have the solution for possibly resolving land issues across the country. Soon, this movement led to become the Gramdan or village-gift movement and went through many levels of allied programmes and initiatives. In October 1951 rose a demand for fifty million acres of land for the landless in the whole of India by 1957, thus turning a small goal into a mass-scale movement. The success lasted till 1957, post which it slowly faded.
It gained a lot of success, especially in Northern India in UP and Bihar. Over 4.5million acres of land in India was given as a donation by 1957. The core belief of land being a gift of earth which belonged to everyone made its way into minds of everyone. With time, many problems seeped into the movement later such as slow progress, bribery, donating bogus land, greed to get more land or incorrect implementation in some regions. The movement soon failed due to increasing misuse of a voluntary movement for self-serving purposes by a few.
To conclude taking an overall view it cannot be gainsaid that the Bhoodan – Gramdan Movement, despite all its real & apparent limitations, it would ever be deemed as a glorious attempt for a peaceful & non-violent solution of the basic land problem of Indian society & through it for a non-violent reconstruction of the Sarvodaya socio-economic-politico order of universal relevance & significance