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Bhoodan-Gramdan Movement

  • 22 Apr 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Vinoba Bhave, Mahatma Gandhi, Freedom Struggle, Philosophy of non-violence, Self-governance.

For Mains: Bhoodan-Gramdan Movement and its Post Independence Impact.

Why in News?

Recently, a village in Maharashtra moved to the Bombay High Court, demanding the implementation of the Gramdan Act.

What is Gramdan?

  • Bhoodan Movement:
    • Background:
    • Objectives:
      • It aimed to persuade wealthy landowners to donate a portion of their land to landless peasants.
      • The movement gained momentum when Bhave walked from village to village, requesting landowners to donate their land.
      • Bhave's approach was rooted in the philosophy of non-violence and the idea that the landowners should donate their land out of compassion and empathy for the poor.
  • Gramdan Movement:
    • The next phase of the Bhoodan movement was the Gramdan Movement or the village gift movement.
    • It aimed to create self-sufficient villages by bringing about collective ownership of land.
    • The Gramdan movement urged villagers to donate their land to a village council, which would then manage and distribute the land to the villagers.
    • This movement gained support from many political leaders and was seen as a solution to the problem of unequal distribution of land in rural India.
  • Significance of the Movement:
    • The movement was successful in many parts of India, with thousands of acres of land being donated by landowners.
    • The Bhoodan-Gramdan Movement had a significant impact on Indian society and politics; it helped in reducing landlessness, bringing about a more equitable distribution of land and empowerment of rural communities along with promoting self-sufficiency.
    • It paved the way for the protection of natural resources by giving everyone in the community equal rights and responsibilities towards them and empowering the communities to move towards self-governance.
  • Drawbacks:
    • Sometimes, the land donated was either unfertile or under litigation.
      • Hence, large areas of land were collected but little was distributed among the landless.
    • It was not successful in areas where there was disparity in landholdings.
    • Also, the movement also failed to realize its revolutionary potential.

What is the Current Scenario of the Gramdan Act?

  • Gramdan Act in Different States:
    • Today, seven states in India have 3,660 Gramdan villages, the highest being in Odisha (1309).
      • The other six are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
    • In September 2022, the Assam government repealed the Assam Gramdan Act, 1961 and Assam Bhoodan Act, 1965, by passing The Assam Land and Revenue Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to counter encroachment on donated lands in the state.
      • Till that time, Assam had 312 Gramdan villages.
  • Some Common Features of Gramdan Act:
    • At least 75% of the landowners in the village should surrender land ownership to the village community. Such land should be at least 60% of the village land.
    • 5% of the surrendered land is distributed to the landless in the village for cultivation.
      • Recipients of such land cannot transfer the same without the permission of the community.
    • The rest remains with the donors; they and their descendants can work on it and reap the benefits.
      • However, they cannot sell it outside the village or to one in the village who has not joined Gramdan.
    • All the cultivators who have joined Gramdan should contribute 2.5% of their income to the community.
  • Concerns:
    • The act has lost its relevance in many villages mainly due to poor implementation of the law.
    • In some villages, the descendants of those who had given their land under Gramdan are frustrated that they cannot sell their land outside the village and call the act ‘anti-development’.

How is the Act Significant for Forest Conservation?

  • The Gramdan Act can help ensure community forest rights by empowering local communities to take control of their natural resources, including forests.
  • Under the Gramdan Act, land and other resources are vested in the community, which means that the community has the power to make decisions about how these resources are used and managed thus giving them a say in forests management and the benefits from their sustainable use.
  • In the context of community forest rights, the Gramdan Act can provide a legal framework for communities to assert their rights over forest land and resources.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q. In the ‘Individual Satyagraha’, Vinoba Bhave was chosen as the first Satyagrahi. Who was the second? (2009)

(a) Dr. Rajendra Prasad
(b) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru 
(c) C. Rajagopalachari 
(d) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Ans: (b)


Q. Critically discuss the objectives of Bhoodan and Gramdan movements initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and their success. (2013)

Source: DTE

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