[Answered] What do you understand by the term trusteeship? Discuss Mahatma Gandhi’s views on principle of trusteeship.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Mahatma Gandhi’s views on the principle of trusteeship.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Trusteeship is a socio-economic concept put forward by Mahatma Gandhi. Trusteeship means a way by which the wealthy people would be the trustees of trusts that looked after the welfare of the people in general. In modern times concept of corporate social responsibility is close to the idea of Trusteeship.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Views on Principle of Trusteeship:

  1. According to Mahatma Gandhi those who sought to attain God through social service, even if they controlled vast possessions, should not regard any of it as their own. They should rather hold their possessions in trust for the benefit of those less privileged than themselves.
  2. The theory of trusteeship applies equally to both tangible and intangible property such as the muscular energy of the labourers and the talents.
  3. By trusteeship he meant that the wealthy should not just claim their possessions to be theirs entirely as that they cannot not accumulate their wealth without the labour and cooperation of workers and the poorer sections of society.
  4. Basically Gandhi suggested this doctrine as an answer to the economic inequalities of ownership and income – a kind of nonviolent way of resolving all social and economic conflicts which grew out of inequalities and privileges of the present social order.
  5. According to him, wealthy people are morally bound to share their wealth in a fair manner with their workers and the poor.
  6. Just as it is proposed to give a decent minimum living wage, a limit should be fixed for the maximum income that would be allowed to any person in society. The difference between such minimum and maximum incomes should be reasonable and equitable and variable from time to time, so much so that the tenancy would be towards the obliteration of the difference.
  7. It does not exclude legislation of the ownership and use of wealth. Wealthy people should voluntarily surrender part of their wealth and hold it in trust for those working for them. But by the 1940s, he had come to believe that state legislation would be necessary to ensure compliance with the principle of trusteeship.
  8. It does not recognise any right of private ownership of property except so far as it may be permitted by society for its own welfare.
  9. He believed that adoption of this doctrine at an individual and national level is the only way to form an egalitarian and non-violent society.
  10. He said that the rich man should spend his wealth only when reasonably required for his personal needs and should act as a trustee for the remainder to be used for society.
  11. The whole idea of possessing wealth only to guard it from being misused and to distribute it equitably aims at protecting human dignity.
  12. Gandhi did not believe in inherited wealth as a trustee has no heir other than the public.
  13. By trusteeship he doesn’t mean compulsion to surrender the wealth as the forcible dispossession of the wealthy would deny to society the talents of people who could create national wealth. His method was to persuade the wealthy to act as trustees, failing which satyagraha could be adopted.

Trusteeship provides a means of transforming the present capitalist order of society into an egalitarian one. It gives no quarter to capitalism, but gives the present owning class a chance to reform itself. It is based on the faith that human nature is never beyond redemption.

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