Author : Kushang (Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla)
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” This has been rightly said by John F. Kennedy and forms the base of citizen duties towards their country. Citizens have certain rights given to them and in return they also have certain duties which they should follow. These duties are present in order to make the country a better place to live in. The duties, when followed by the citizen leads to an ideal society where the citizen also feel that they have certain duties and responsibilities towards the country. India has certain Fundamental duties which should be followed by the citizens of the country. These duties were taken from Russia. Fundamental duties were added to the constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976 after the recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee. There were 10 duties initially but after the 86th amendment in 2002, 11th duty was added. The idea behind incorporation of fundamental duties was to remind the citizens of the country that they have certain obligations towards the country and society. As the state offers them fundamental rights, it is the fundamental duty of each citizen of India to further national integration and contribute towards a better society.
But now the question is how these duties can bring the best out of our country and help build a new India? If we closely examine the duties that citizen has and the problems that India is facing now, we will be able to find how they can help our country to be a better nation and build a new India. If we consider some of these duties ̶
To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem. This duty can help solve a large no. of problem that is present in our country. Situation where states are fighting over their own state flag and the debate whether to stand or not during national anthem, this duty can bring more clarity to the citizen. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India– this duty relates to the present situation where people are getting divided on the basis of religion, caste, language etc. if citizen understand their duty then, most of the conflicts that happens where many lives are lost, would not prevail. This would lead to more peace among the citizen and peace would lead to better growth opportunities for the country. The duty-To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women also relates to the same situation. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture, a duty which would help India to be unique in the world. The threat of loosing the rich culture is high in our country due to westernisation but if stick to our culture, then an ideal society would prevail in the country without any conflict of interest among people. And who can forget the contribution of India in various fields by following their culture. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures– this duty has become an essential duty not only for citizens of India but for the whole world. The pace at which forest destruction is being carried out is very dangerous for the country. If people understand their duty towards nature, that would lead to a better environment and a better living conditions for the citizens. Then, the duty-To safeguard public property and to abjure violence is something which is the need of the hour. Situation where people protest, end up damaging public property and violence leading to lose of lives has become a common sight for the country. These things disrupt the working of the country to a great extent. Although it is true that everyone has the right to protest but that doesn’t justify the action of damaging public properties like trains, buses etc and committing violence. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement– a duty which all citizen should follow for the development of the nation. If citizen constantly work towards improvement, then certainly it would lead to new India. And the basic duty – Who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years is very important. Our country needs more educated workforce to grow more. But this is possible only when children are given opportunity to study and get educated. These were few of the duties that Indian citizen should follow. Although they are not obligatory but still leads to a better society.
Thus, time has come for the citizen to not only fight for their rights but also follow their duties. It would lead to a situation where the country has no unnecessary protests, no violence, a peaceful environment where everyone is proud of their culture and seeks to promote them. When citizens are given rights which they can enforce if they are violated then in return, they have certain duties which is eventually for their own benefit. Citizens of a country are its greatest resource, they can either break the country or instead make the country a better place to live. In case of India, we definitely need a change, and it will come only when people understand their duty. This will lead to new India where there is no discrimination, no conflict, and a better society. As Barack Obama said “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it”. It is possible to build new India if citizen come up and carry their duties responsibly.