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Characteristics of Trusteeship

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  • Published
    28th Dec, 2019

Trusteeship is based on Ahimsa

  • A variant of trusteeship was tried by Vinoba Bhave soon after the Independence that related to the land, which is well known as bhoodan and movement which came out of it as Bhoodan Movement.
  • Soon after independence in 1947 in Telangana, the land was being confiscated by the after extremists violently by murdering the landlords. The government of India also introduced a number of land reforms at the same time.
  • They included Zamindari Abolition act and land tenancy and land ceiling Act.
  • According to Bhave, the violent confiscation and direct confrontation was nothing but murder and what the state was trying to do with law was Kanun.
  • He started asking for land in donation and redistribution and donated land to landless Farmers.
  • He was appealing be using more Persuasions and he called this karuna or compassion.
  • It is interesting to note that at this point that the Gandhi would have gone slightly beyond Karuna if the landlord did not yield to Karuna, then he would do cut his Kartavya, which would be Satyagraha.
  • In early 1950s agriculture was still dominant sector contributing significantly to gross domestic product. Land was most important factor of production and ownership of land was crucial for supporting the livelihood of the farm family in equality of land ownership records resulted in two skewed distribution of wealth and income landlords where considered to be extremely rich and powerful class in the economic and political spheres of the country.

Trusteeship Allows Creation of Wealth

  • Trusteeship is essentially about how to possess and how much to possess. It is not against creation and possession. Creation and possession of wealth is justified. In the Neo Classical Economics, to imbibe the value of labour indirectly and to minimize the cost, it is to be exploited physically and economically.
  • In such circumstances, any expectation from labourers to become efficient and develop a commitment for production cannot materialize.
  • The entire process of production generates definite negative externalities by not paying proper wages.
  • These externalities are also being imposed in the society and the state.  If the concept of trusteeship is to be applied in these circumstances as a trustee, as a producer the corporate sector should make an offer to fellow human beings who are part of the production process for their decent standards of living.

Trusteeship and Nature

  • The other input of production is nature. In a corporate framework, intrinsic value of that natural resource is not being evaluated. In Gandhian theory of trusteeship, handling of nature and use of nature in one’s own production system can be different, perhaps more conservation/preservation oriented. 
  • If the industry as a whole takes a decision to price it more appropriately, then let that product be produced if there is a demand rather than cutting it down at the firm’s/industry’s level or transferring all the costs to the society.
  • In this regard, carbon trading is a very inferior option, although a better option than no option. The third issue is about pollution.
  • Pollution obviously is the result after the production. One can also be trustee by choosing appropriate technologies. Hence, on production side too there is ample scope of trusteeship.

Trusteeship in consumption

  • Consumption has two distinct levels: Personal and societal. The theory of aparigraha, non-acquisitiveness, tends not to acquire and consume things which are useless to an individual.
  • This is where Gandhi bring in the concept of limiting personal demands/needs. After satisfying needs for a decent livelihood, the rest of the wealth is required to be spent for social good. In Gujarat, a number of educational institutes and healthcare units have been financed and managed by the Mahajanms.

Beginning the process with the basic principle of Aparigraha, non-acquisitive life by the trustee, by the creator and possessor of the wealth would impact he entire society in a positive manner.  Such society would be a simple society and the craze for useful and not-so-useful technologies will also be automatically regulated. The vision has to change. Gandhi’s Trusteeship becomes relevant and a possibility within his overall vision of a non-violent society, swadeshi, decentralized economic system and Swaraj as self-rule. 

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