Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Jun 2017 13:06:56

THAT as much as 6.27 lakh acres of Bhoodan land has remained undistributed to the landless across the country, involving almost all the States in the Indian Union, shows how dishonest the governmental systems have been for all these years since Acharya Vinoba Bhave launched the unique movement with a strong spiritual base. He thought of an absolutely unheard of idea, designed its parameters, and set out on a foot-march -- padyatra -- across the country to urge rich land-holders to share some parts of their land with the landless.

Not just India but also the whole world felt excited about the idea that denoted an entirely new dimension of democratic collectivism. Subsequent events in the country, however, demonstrated that the people in power were never serious about Bhoodan implementation and continued playing truant. As a result, more than fifty years after Acharya Vinoba Bhave launched that movement, six-lakh-plus acres of land still remains undistributed to the landless and the needy. Obviously, the country has squandered a great movement.

On many occasions subsequently, Acharya Vinoba Bhave was asked about the outcome of the Bhoodan movement and what he felt about its shady implementation. He only smiled in response. On many occasions, governmental leaders, too, were asked the same question. And each of them gave terribly evasive answers, perhaps looking for some other person or party to be blamed for the failure to implement the great idea. The country’s political community did not spare even Bhoodan movement from its dishonest games.

It was certainly not easy for anybody to convince rich land-holders to slice away parts of their lands and offer those to be shared with the landless. Yet, Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s spiritual charm, his transparent honesty of purpose, his disarming appeal for sacrifice ...! - everything worked a magic spell on his target audience. In countless places, rich landlords handed over hundreds of acres of their personally-owned tracts of land.

That response, no matter some bitter insults Acharya Vinoba Bhave had to suffer on occasions, made the country ecstatic in those days more than fifty years ago. So mesmerised had the country become then that Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described the Bhoodan movement as God’s gift to the nation and the world. The then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad called Bhoodan as an idea that added a new dimension to social elevation. Even in those days, the Bhoodan leader’s response was modest. He said, in effect, ‘let us do our work with faith in ourselves and God’!

Now that the facts are out that as many as 6.27 lakh acres of Bhoodan land still remains undistributed, the Government must take up the cause seriously and quickly. The National council for Land Reforms headed by Prime Minister and the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task in Land Reforms led by Union Rural Development Minister have expressed the need to conduct an ‘authoritative survey’ of all Bhoodan land since ‘the status of the Bhoodan land remains indeterminate’. Such honest-hounding words, however, conceal certain slackness that needs to be dispelled on an immediate basis.

For, what is involved is not just lakhs of acres of land and lakhs of landless people but also the basic commitment to a great soul’s great idea that held in its womb a tremendous opportunity to social and economic upliftment of countless numbers of Indian people. But, to make a beginning in the right direction, the Government must also launch a serious probe to fix the responsibility of this national lapse. Many of those dirty players might have even died, but the probe will at least let the nation know who the culprits were/are!