Gandhi Concept of Trusteeship:
Gandhi thought out the concept of trusteeship for regulating the use of private ownership of property. Any person possessing more property than what is required for his immediate use should regard himself not as the absolute owner of that wealth but as a trustee of the people and use some of it to promote the welfare of the people in general. Where an individual becomes the owner of some wealth either by inheritance or by his own efforts, i.e. business or some other venture, he should think that the wealth does not belong to him because he was entitled to only a small portion of the wealth required for an honourable existence in common with others. He is not entitled to a livelihood better than that available to the people as a whole. The rest of the wealth ought to belong to the community as a whole and, therefore, it ought to be used for the promotion of the welfare of the community. He formulated this theory for bridging the gulf between the poor and rich classes in India. This approach is the Gandhian alternative to the western approaches to the problem such as socialism and communism and it obviates the need for resorting to coercion or violence on the part of the state. Gandhi believed that his theory of ‘trusteeship’ is based on sound principles and that it would survive all other theories relating to public versus private ownership of property. Further, it has the support of philosophy and religion. The fact that the wealthy people have not complied with this theory does not impair the soundness of the theory but it proves the weakness and shortsightedness of the affluent class. No other theory is compatible with the concept of non-violence. Although this concept may be difficult to practice, it is not difficult to understand. This theory could be applied to industries as well as to land. Any person who practices this theory should be regarded as a noble person.
Like many of his other concepts and schemes, Gandhi’s principle of trusteeship too held a cultural dimension. It went far beyond economic and political requirements. In one sense it opted for the kind of philosophy of life and organization which gave a new thrust to the method of management and a system of interpersonal relations. The partnership and egalitarian aspects of trusteeship symbolized a kind of movement against authority, riches and monopoly of decision-making. Gandhi wanted to build a new cultural inheritance of man, not merely on the basis of economic equality but psychological equality. For him, psycho-social evolution was not merely a part of a superstructure but had autonomy and was more fundamental than many other aspects of trusteeship. The cultural reconstruction that he wanted to bring about was based largely on three principles, viz equality, non-violence and morality, and these enduring principles laid the foundation for trusteeship.