Q. Write a note on Mahatma Gandhi’s theory of Trusteeship?
Answer: Gandhi’s trusteeship theory is a social economic theory which offers a way for the
wealthy to serve as the trustees of trusts and look out for the well-being of everyone.
Gandhi suggested this doctrine as an answer to the economic inequalities of
ownership and income which grew out of inequalities and privileges of the present
social order. It is based on the faith that human nature is never beyond redemption.
The core of the Trusteeship Theory
• Gandhi based his doctrine of trusteeship on the first sloka of Sri Isopanisad,
according to which one is asked to dedicate everything to God and then use it
only to the required extent.
• He was of the view that everything that humans have is from God and
belonged to God. Therefore it is meant for every person and not a particular
one. When a person has more than his requirement, he can become a trustee
of that extra portion for others.
Components of the Trusteeship theory
• Voluntary socialism: Gandhi believed in the concept of socialism and
advocated for the development of all individuals. He asked people who had
more than their requirement to help others. He himself did a lot of volunteer
work and was always involved in improving the lives of the downtrodden and
the people who had fewer means to survive.
• Aparigraha or Non-Possession: This is one of the main features of his
trusteeship theory as it is through non-possession only that people will be able
to help others. It includes the principles of detachment and service.
• Human dignity: Human dignity stands at the core of Gandhi’s philosophy.
Throughout his life, he aimed at the development, upliftment, and enrichment
of human life rather than a high standard of living with no respect for human
or social values. An ethical life was the basis of his theory.
• Ahimsa or Non-violence: He believed in the process of non-violence,
satyagraha, and non-cooperation in converting the privileged classes into
trustees. He even advocated violence as a last resort to dispossess property
owners of their wealth.
Benefits of the Trusteeship Theory:
• Egalitarian society: Gandhi had a firm belief that every capitalist being a
human has in them the element of goodness. He believed that once this
goodness is evoked they would use this surplus for the welfare of the poor
which would establish economic equality in society.
• Peace/Harmony: Gandhi believed that to establish peace and harmony in
society the economic basis of society should be based on love and trust. He
believed that if people develop the quality of sympathy, kindness,
benevolence, and the feeling of oneness then voluntarily they will think about
the weaker section of society.
• Upliftment and Enrichment of human life: Gandhi used it as a powerful tool
for removing economic and social disparity and ultimately establishing peace
in society. Gandhi had no doubt about its abiding value. He said, “My theory
of Trusteeship is no makeshift, certainly no Camouflage. I am confident that it
will survive all other theories.
• Sustainable consumption: He was of the view that a decent minimum living
wage should be set and also a limit should be fixed for the maximum income
that would be allowed to any person in society.
• The difference between the such minimum and maximum incomes
should be reasonable and equitable and variable from time to time.
Examples of Trusteeship in the present world:
Trusteeship can be viewed as an attitude to life. The trustee has to behave in such a
way as to command the confidence of others in his honesty, integrity, and the
reasonable frame of mind he brings to his work and behavior.
Some of the present day examples include:
• CSR(Corporate social responsibility): The root of corporate social
responsibility lies in Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship. This CSR connects the
corporate sector to the social sector. Every company draws its resources from
society so it must have some responsibilities toward society.
• NGO (Non-profit Organisation): A non-profit organisation that generally is
formed independently from the government and is active in humanitarianism
or the social sciences. Surveys indicate that NGOs have a high degree of
public trust, which can make them a useful proxy for the concerns of society
Sarvodaya: The economic and social development of a community as a
whole, especially as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. Aditya Birla Group,
Jamana Lal Bajaj, Amul, Tata House (JRD), and Infosys as some of the
examples display the different experiments conducted by individuals and/or
companies that are committed to the larger goal.
Paths to achieve the goal:
Gandhi’s theory of trusteeship holds relevance even in the present world. For
instance, the revolutions that are raised from time to time in different countries are
motivated by the same objectives of human dignity, justice, and equity. The practice
of all democratic nations has been to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor
to a minimum. We find the manifestations of the Gandhian concept of trusteeship in
the policies of the government as well. This theory, therefore, becomes significant for
the overall growth and progress of humans in particular and society in general.
“I think that any wealth creates a sense of trusteeship. It is a characteristic of
the new generation which has created wealth to have some amount of
responsibility for it”.
— Azim Premji(Founder of Wipro)