This Day in History (18-Apr-1951) – Vinoba Bhave initiated Bhoodan movement

On the final day of Third Annual Sarvodaya Conference, held at Shivarampali, a village a few miles south of the city of Hyderabad, Vinoba Bhave, first Satyagrahi of Mahatma Gandhi, announced that on his walk home to Pavanar, near Nagpur;  he  would tour the Communist infested areas of Telangana to spread the message of Peace i.e. Non-violence. On April 18th 1951, the historic day of the very genesis of the Bhoodan movement, Vinoba entered Nalgonda district, the centre of Communist activity. The organizers had arranged Vinoba’s stay at Pochampalli, a large village with about 700 families, of whom two-thirds were landless. Vinoba went to visit the Harijan  colony. The Harijans asked for eighty acres of land, forty wet, forty dry for forty families that would be enough. Then Vinoba asked, “If it is not possible to get land from the government, is there not something villagers themselves could do?” To everyone’s surprise, Ram Chandra Reddy, the local landlord, got up & said in a rather excited voice: “I will give you 100 acres for these people.”

This incident neither planned nor imagined was the very genesis of the Bhoodan movement & it made Vinoba think that therein lay the potentiality of solving the land problem of India. This movement later on developed into a village gift or Gramdan movementand many allied programmes. In October 1951, Vinoba was led to demand fifty million acres of land for the landless from the whole of India by 1957. Thus a personal initiative assumed the form of a mass movement, reminding the people of Gandhi’s mass movements. The enthusiasm for the movement lasted till 1957 & thereafter it began to wane. The Gramdan idea did not prove popular in the non-tribal areas & this partly accounted for the decline of the movement. Over a period of twenty years, Vinoba walked through the length & breadth of India persuading land-owners & land-lords to give their poor & downtrodden neighbours a total of four million acres of land. By adopting Gandhi’s ideas to the solution of the basic economic problem of land collection & equitable redistribution among the landless, the Movement kept Gandhi’s ideas of socioeconomic reconstruction alive.



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