Would you think of giving up a bread slice of your breakfast daily? Thinking of giving up a piece of land in favor of the neediest would be unimaginable. But those were the times highly influenced by the moral preaching of Mahatma Gandhi and his disciples. April 18, 1951, is essentially one of the most important historical dates in the post-independent India.
The date denotes the beginning of the Bhoodan Movement in India, which asked landlords to give up their piece of land in favor of landless peasants to ensure they manage their lives on their own. The movement was initiated by one of the ardent followers of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave. Vinoba Bhave was influenced by Gandhi Ji’s idea of Sarvodaya Samaj, which advocated for the wealth based equality in the society.
In 1951, the landless were struggling against the landlords for their own piece of land or a piece of land for agriculture activities in the then state of Telangana. The peaceful agitation turned violent in April 1951, which inspired Vinoba Bhave to come to the aid of those protesting. He requested the landlords to voluntarily give up a small piece of land to landless for their survival. The seeds of Bhoodan were sawn in Pochampally village in Nalgonda district.
Vinoba Bhave then traveled through India to pursue landlords for giving up their land. However, the government did not support the movement. Resultantly Vinoba Bhave got magnanimous support from the poor of India to force the central government as well as state governments to enact a law based on basic principles of Bhoodan Movement.
As per the law adopted by the most of the state governments, a landless can get the piece of land from a landlord for agricultural activities to meet the needs of the family. Neither a landless can sell that land nor can it be used for the non-agriculture purpose. The land would be ceased upon finding guilty of violating these terms.
The movement was one of the biggest land reforms in India which, in some sense brought the quality. According to the rough records, almost 45 Lacs Acre land was given up by landlords across India. However, the movement failed to impress the government and the Congress party at the power. In fact, the movement, which was aimed to be a mass movement for social reforms failed in galvanizing support from the broader section of the society. The middle class remained aloof and occupied in meeting their ends.
Besides, Bhoodan, Vinoba Bhave also asked people to pledge voluntarily give up money in a movement called “Kanchan Dan”. The Bhoodan Movement lasted until 1957 and started to meet its fate theirs after. A great effort of revolutionizing India’s first social reform in the independent era did not yield as much as anticipated.