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Sarvodaya Movement And Its Impact On Indian Politics

Sarvodaya is a term meaning�Universal Uplift�or�Progress of All.�The term was first coined by Mohandas Gandhi as the title of his 1908 translation of John Ruskin's tract on political economy,�Unto This Last, and Gandhi came to use the term for the ideal of his own political philosophy.�Later Gandhian, like the Indian nonviolence activist Vinoba Bhave, embraced the term as a name for the social movement in post-independence India which strove to ensure that self-determination and equality reached all strata of India society.�A Sarvodaya Economic Conference was held in December, 1949 which aimed at establishing a Sarvodaya society.

The Sarvodaya movement may be viewed as an extension of the efforts of Mahatma Gandhi in the realisation of non-violent socialism. The Doyen of sarvodaya movement, namely, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, carried forward the movement for its application in India. Sarvodaya means the establishment of new social order on the basis of love and non-violence. It is a powerful intellectual movement to attain social, moral and economic independence as envisaged by Gandhiji. It aims towards the creation of a social order from every form of authority.

Sarvodaya implies the welfare of all citizens and the welfare of the society as a whole. Sarvodaya accepts the character of the human spirit as highly sacrosanct. It believes that the values of equality, freedom and fraternity have great relevance for the development of the society in paving way for an integrated social order. Sarvodaya aims to replace the politics of power by the politics of co-operation.

It makes an effort for the moral uplift of the rich and the material uplift of the poor. It represents an ideal-social order standing for the welfare of all the citizens with all embracing love as its basis. It treats all human beings despite variations, alike. It projects a synthesis of Gandhian and socialist philosophies and spiritualism as well as materialism.

Acharya Vinoba Bhave, the walking saint of India preached the will-to-good to all, through the exposition of his humanitarian ideals of Sarvodaya philosophy. Bhave's ideal has been perpetual peace. He advocated the self cultivation of certain human values which give man the desired courage and confidence to meet the challenges of society.

Main ideals of Sarvodaya:

  1. Spiritualism:

    Sarvodaya firmly believes that social reconstruction cannot be undertaken under materialist philosophy. It requires a kind of renunciation with materialism so as to render service to mankind. Sarvodaya attempts to bring about a transformation, in the attitudes of the individuals whether capitalists or feudals. It tries to include the idea that the spiritual domain is supreme than that of materialistic world. It, therefore, emphasises a kind of emancipation from narrow, parochial dimensions of earthly matters to that of the higher and nobler idea of spiritualism.
  2. Peace as a weapon:

    There is no place for violence in the philosophy of sarvodaya. Sarvodaya reiterates that ��that government is good which governs the least'. It stresses on real Jana Shakti as a counter to Danda Shakti. It affirms its beliefs in the nobility and purity of means as a measure for solution of human problems. It adheres to the principle of regeneration of human heart as well as transformation among human beings. It believes in self-reliance and self-discipline. The freedom is the desired objective. Sarvodaya negates the use of power by the State even for the promotion of social welfare.
  3. Moral and ethical values:

    The craze for power and politics being manipulative is being used for capturing and perpetuating political power. Consequently the service motto and objective is totally given up for the cause of wealth and power. Moral and ethical values are subordinated to the corrupting influence of wealth and power. Sarvodaya, therefore, makes an attempt to rectify such anomalies and help in ushering the moral and spiritual values in socio-political and economic life in India.
  4. Democracy Nation:

    Modern States are characterized by party politics. Powerful parties are dominating the electorate reducing the ideals of democracy such as sovereignty of the electorate and consent of the people to mere myths. Political parties create conflicts, factions and groups in the society through their divergent ideologies. The political parties are destroying the social harmony and unity. Sarvodaya advocates democracy without the political parties which are deleterious to the harmony of society. As per sarvodaya philosophy, the party politics and electoral mechanism are replaced by the application of community consensus.

    In such a system, there is no place for majority system or minority parties. The majority and minority are replaced by unanimity. Initially an attempt has to be made to nominate the workers through universal consensus from all the villages. They constitute the members of panchayats. They have to undertake the rehabilitation of the community activities. Similarly, the District, State and national panchayat members are chosen with community consensus and not on the basis of political parties but by a united front made up of all good and honest people in the country, carrying on community programmers which are commonly agreed. Abolition of parties is not a solution. Sarvodaya corrects the democracy based on political parties.
  5. Society without State:

    Sarvodaya philosophy believes in the establishment of a stateless and classless society. It demands the end of the State which has the power of coercion and punishment and the consequent emergence of stateless society. It views the State as an obstructive element in the growth of human society and personality. It does not consider the State as an instrument of socio-economic change.
  6. Village Council (Gram Rajyam):

    Sarvodaya emphasises the self-sufficient village community system. Under this scheme, every village becomes self-reliant and exhibits a State in miniature. Sarvodaya aims at elevating people. Every village will have a village council which is composed of a member from every family. This council elects unanimously an executive community which is responsible for conducting all affairs of the village. The council has the lands of the village in the form of a trust and makes periodic allotments to the farmers. In such a system there is no case of ownership of land providing the idea of mine and thine. There is an element of absolute co-operation and collaboration. It is an ownership by the village coupled by individual cultivation. The sarvodaya philosophy accepts the cardinal principle of universalisation of self-government. Under such a system the citizens tend to be vigilant, active and participative in co-operative action. Samagra-seva, the all round service to humanity is the ideal of sarvodaya. Sarvodaya is an embodiment of the total and integral well-being of man in modern times.
  7. Bhoodan movement:

    In the year 1951, there was unrest among people in their attempt to solve the land problem through violent means. Bhave travelled through the trouble ridden area. During his brief stay at Pachampally village he tried to investigate the real cause of their discontent and their incessant needs. The Harijans told him that they badly required land, one acre each. Vinoba appealed to the landlords, then immediately one landlord stood up and offered 100 acres of land to the poor. This marked the birth of bhoodan movement. During his 51 days of Telangana tour, he could secure 12,201 acres of land by way of gifts for the cause of distribution of land among Harijans. The movement gradually spread to other parts of the country.

Jaya Prakash Narayan and Sarvodaya Movement

Jaya Prakash Narayan, born in 1902, was one of the leaders of freedom movement in India actively following the Gandhian philosophy and ideals. In his early part of life he was a Marxist. He is known as the father of socialist movement in India and he even organised Congress Socialist Party-a wing within the Congress organisation. He wrote a book ��Why Socialism' and many Indian intellectuals turned into socialists by studying that book. After independence, having been disgusted with the parties as well as politics, Jaya Prakash Narayan, known as J.P., decided to concentrate his attention on Bhoodan movement initiated by Acharya Vinobaji.

In the year 1954, he had severed connections with the national executive of the ESP and started sarvodaya movement by becoming a Jivan Dani for sarvodaya. He strongly advocated greater decentralization of political authority and the reorganisation of villages with a high degree of autonomy. He favoured the allocation of land to the actual tiller and firmly demanded the clearance of all the vested interests. He supported the total liquidation of agricultural debts.

He had strongly advocated for modification of the system and introduction of proportional representation for ushering authentic democracy in India. He came to the conclusion that all political parties in India have preached democratic norms and followed in breach than in implementation.

He suggested banning of such political parties forthwith and to allow in it place partyless democracy.�Being a firm believer in sarvodaya philosophy, J .P. advocated a thoroughly decentralised Gram Raj movement in India. The Grama Dan Movement and Sampathi Dan Movement have been spread under his guidance. The total revolution phase of J .P. Narayan's life (1974-79) is a peak period.

Sarvodaya ideals are not practicable. Though the ideals of Sarvodaya will be noble. Nobody can find fault with them, in the actual world. They will be found wanting. It will be almost impossible to establish a society strictly on the basis of great principles by Mahatma Gandhi and others. Sarvodaya doctrines are soaring and it is doubtful whether they can rest on the earth.

The poor record of Panchayat Raj in India bears testimony to the backward condition in which people are. In the highly competitive world, one country cannot succeed in having Gramraj. Unless all states in the world accept the Sarvodaya idea. The chances of having it is a particular country like India are bleak. As well as, it is difficult to bring a change of the heart in the youth, who is given to selfishness. People donated useless land in response to the Bhoodan. So, need of the present era for youth is ��Think Globally and Act Locally'.

  1. M.K.Gandhi, Village Swaraj, (Navjivan publishing House, Ahamadabad).
  2. R. P. Mishra, Rediscovering Gandhi; Volume I: Hind Swaraj-Gandhi's Challenges to modern Civilization, (Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi).
  3. J.C.Kumrappa, Economy of Performance, (Sarva Seva Sangha Prakashan, Rajghat, 6th�Edn., 1997).
  4. K.Gokhale, Political Science: Theory & Govt. Machinary, (Himalaya Publishing House).

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