Lokneeti (People’s policy)
Lokneeti is one of the key concepts in Vinoba Bhave’s discourse of self-rule. He emphasizes on consolidation of people’s ethical power which would result in less and less dependence on state. He says that ‘rajya’ (state) is of Raja (king) and ‘prajya’ is of Praja (citizens). While ‘rajya’ has ‘rajneeti’ (politics), ‘prajya’ has ‘lokneeti’ (people’s policy).
Vinoba maintains that state – an external rule – is the root cause of many problems. The very idea of ‘majority’, on which the current state is formed, is questionable. Out of hundred, sixty people cast their votes and the candidate who gets thirty votes rule over hundred people! State invariably resorts to coercion and violence in order to sustain itself. The whole system becomes an exploitative mechanism where ‘seva’ (service) is slave to ‘satta’ (power). Vinoba says that lokneeti is the only way out of the extremely flawed system of governance that exists today.
However, there are certain prerequisites for the true lokneeti to come into being. They are – self-discipline, self-control, self-sufficiency, love, gentle behaviour, non-acquisition, decision making by everybody’s consent and absence of the desire to rule. Vinoba argues that purification of politics means replacing politics with lokneeti. Increasing every individual’s moral strength is of utmost importance here. As the moral strength of people intensifies, state machinery’s ‘power to rule’ starts diminishing and eventually it vanishes. He makes it clear that we are not looking at ‘society without governance’, we are looking at society which is ‘self-governed’. All the aspects of our social life, e.g. health, education etc. can be brought under people’s purview and accordingly, systems can be formed. If we look closely, social system like law enforcement becomes indispensable because we as a society do not abide to the moral code of conduct. If our efforts are targeted towards making the individuals responsible and morally upright, such individuals can be intellectually capable of developing and maintaining various social systems on their own.
Vinoba was aware that lokneeti cannot be achieved easily, but he also believed that reaching there is difficult, but not impossible. That is why his first emphasis was on self-discipline along with maximum decentralization of power. Individuals have to prepare themselves to run the system on their own so that state control automatically starts diminishing.
Through his writings and through the bhoodan-gramdan movement, he has presented and elaborated his ideas. Now it’s up to us to see if we are ready to transform ourselves!