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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section VIII : Labour Relations > Landlord and Tenant


53. Landlord and Tenant

The kisan1 is the salt of the earth which rightly belongs or should belong to him, not to the absentee landlord or Zamindar.

The Bombay Chronicle, 20-10-44


Land and all property is his who will work it. Unfortunately the workers are or have been kept ignorant of this simple fact.

Harijan, 2-1-37, p. 375


I believe that the land you cultivate should belong to you, but it cannot be your own all at once, you cannot force it from the Zamindars. Non-violence is the only way, consciousness of your own power is the only way.

Harijan, 20-5-39, p. 133


No man should have more land than he needs for dignified sustenance. Who can dispute the fact that the grinding poverty of the masses is due to their having no land that they can call their own?

But it must be realized that the reform cannot be rushed. If it is to be brought about by non-violent means, it can only be done by education, both of the haves and the have-nots. The former should be assured that there never will be force used against them. The have-nots must be educated to know that no one can really compel them to do anything against their will, and that they can secure their freedom by learning the art of non-violence, i.e., self-suffering.

Harijan, 20-4-40, p. 97


I would tell you that ownership of your land belongs as much to the Ryots2 as to you.

Amrita Bazar Patrika, 2-8-34


My objective is to reach your heart and convert you so that you may hold all your private property in trust for your tenants and use it primarily for their welfare. I am aware of the fact that within the ranks of the Congress a new party, called the Socialist party is coming into being, and I cannot say what would happen if that party succeeds in carrying the Congress with it. But I am quite clear that if strictly honest and unchallengeable referendum of our millions were to be taken, they would not vote for the wholesale expropriation of the propertied classes. I am working for the co-operation and co-ordination of capital and labour, of landlord and tenant.

Amrita Bazaar Patrika, 2-8-34


But I must utter a note of warning. I have always told mill-owners that they are not exclusive owners of mills and workmen are equal shares in ownership. In the same way, I would tell you that ownership of your land belongs as much to the Ryots as to you, and you may not squander your gains in luxurious or extravagant living, but must use them for the well-being of Ryots. Once you make your Ryots experience a sense of kinship with you and a sense of security that their interests as members of a family will never suffer at your hands, you may be sure that there cannot be a clash between you and them and no class war.

Amrita Bazar Patrika, 2-8-34


The Zamindars would do well to take the time by the forelock. Let them cease to be mere rent collectors. They should become trustees and trusted friends of their tenants. They should limit their privy purse. Let them forgo the questionable perquisites they take from the tenants in the shape of forced gifts of marriage and other occasions, or Nazarana3 on transfer of holdings form one Kisan to another or on restoration to the same kisan after eviction for non-payment of rent. They should give them fixity of tenure, take a lively interest in their welfare, provide well-managed schools for adults, hospitals and dispensaries for the sick, look after the sanitation of villages and in a variety of ways make them feel that they, the Zamindars, are their true friends taking only a fixed commission for their manifold services. In short they must justify their position… Kisans should scrupulously fulfill their obligations to the Zamindars. I mean not necessarily the statutory, but the obligations which they have themselves admitted to be just. They must reject the doctrine that their holdings are absolutely theirs to the exclusion of the Zamindars. They are or should be members of a joint family in which the Zamindar is the head guarding their right against encroachment. Whatever the law may be, the Zamindari to be defensible must approach the conditions of a joint family.

I like the ideal of Rama and Janaka. They owned nothing against the people. Everything including themselves belonged to the people. They lived in their midst a life not above theirs, but in correspondence with theirs. But these may not be regarded as historical personages. Then let us take the example of the great Caliph Omar. Though he was monarch of a vast realm created by his great genius and amazing industry, he lived the life of a pauper and never considered himself owner of the vast treasures that lay at his feet. He was a terror to those officials who squandered people’s money in luxuries.

Young India, 28-5-31, pp. 120-21


To the landlords I say that if what is said against them is true, I would warn them that their days are numbered. They could no longer continue as lords and masters. They have a bright future if they become the trustees of the poor Kisans. I have in mind not trustees in name but in reality. Such trustees would take nothing for themselves that their labour and care did not entitle them to. Then they would find that no law would be able to touch them. The Kisans would be their friends.

Harijans, 4-5-47, p. 134


1. Tiller of soil, peasant

2. Tenants

3. Gift