Fundamental Duties as an Indian way of life

Fundamental Duties as an Indian way of life

Historical Background

  • The Swaran Singh Committee was appointed to review of the Constitution had recommended that certain Fundamental Duties which every citizen owed the nation and it should be included in the Constitution.

  • These recommendations were implemented with the incorporation of the new article 51A in the Constitution.

  • During the period of emergency many of our constitutional values were questions and some of the amendments had crippled the powers of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

  • Hence the need for Fundamental duties arose.

Concept of Duty

  • Rights and duties are the two sides of the same coin.  For every right, there is a corresponding duty.  Rights flow only from duties well performed.  Duty is an inalienable part of right

  • If everyone performs his/her duty, everybody’s rights would be naturally be protected.  Gandhiji while emphasizing the economic and social responsibilities of all citizens said:

 

           “The true source of right is duty.  If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek.  If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like will-o-the-wist, the more we pursue them, the farther they will fly”.

 

I learned from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved come from my duty well done.  Thus the very right to live accrues to us when we do the duty of citizenship of the world.  From this one fundamental statement, perhaps it is easy enough to define duties of man and women and correlate every right to some corresponding duty to be first performed.  Every other right can be shown to be a usurpation hardly worth fighting for”.

It is very true that Fundamental Duties have actually been created from the wide culture present in India & hence it is actually a codification of the Indian way of life as explained below

 

  1. Clause (a) of article 51A

TO ABIDE BY THE CONSTITUTION AND RESPECT ITS  IDEALS AND INSTITUTIONS, THE NATIONAL FLAG AND THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

  

  1. These are the very physical foundations of our citizenship. Ours is a vast country with many languages, sub-cultures and religious and ethnic diversities, but the essential unit of the country is epitomized in the one Constitution, one flag, one people and one citizenship

  2. National Flag and the National Anthem are symbols of our historical freedom struggle fought by many freedom fighters. It is also symbol of our sovereignty, unity and pride and thus it is an Indian way of life.

  3. If anyone shows disregard to the Constitution, the National Anthem or the National Flag it would be disastrous to all our rights and very existence as citizens of a sovereign nation.

  4. Each citizen must therefore not only refrain from any such activity of showing disrespect to our national symbols.

 

  1. Clause (b)

TO CHERISH AND FOLLOW THE NOBLE IDEALS WHICH INSPIRED OUR NATIONAL STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM.

Some of the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom were:

  1. to achieve freedom from foreign rule so that the people of India have self-government which would establish a society where there will be no exploitation of man by man, no poverty, no disease, no illiteracy.

  2. The above objective can be achieved only when  all citizens have opportunities for all round development of their personality.

  3.  For all round development of personality, man-making education is required.

  4. Such education can be inculcated when precept is coupled with practice and thus Right to education is given to all children.

 

  • The citizens of India must cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired the national struggle for freedom. The battle of freedom was a long one where thousands of people sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

  • It was not a struggle merely for political  freedom of India, but it was for the social and economic emancipation of the people all over the world. Its ideals were those of building a just society and a united nation of freedom equality, non-violence, brotherhood and world peace to rise above fissiparous tendencies in societies which are foundational principles of Indian way of life.

  1. Clause (c)

TO UPHOLD AND PROTECT THE SOVEREIGNTY, UNITY AND INTEGRITY OF INDIA.

 

  1. To protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India is a paramount commitment of all citizens of India. In a democratic system of governance, sovereignty lies with the people and if the freedom and unity of the country are jeopardized, the nation ceases to exist.

  2. If liberty resides in the minds of men and women, the same is true of unity.

  1. Clause (d) of article 51A

TO DEFEND THE COUNTRY AND RENDER NATIONAL SERVICE WHEN CALLED UPON TO DO SO.

 

  1. The primeval origins of the State are said to be in the need to defend ourselves against external enemies. In modern nation-States, it is considered obvious that every citizen is bound to be ready to defend the country against war or external aggression. 

  2. The present day wars are not fought on the battlefield only nor are they won only by the armed forces; the citizens at large play a most vital role in a variety of ways. Sometimes, civilians may be required also to take up arms in defence of the country; the citizens are fighting only to defend their own liberty and that of their posterity.

  3. It is obviously addressed to all citizens other than those who belong to the army, the navy and the air force, but it also to the common man. This Fundamental Duty has not so far been tested as there has been no occasion when the common man was called upon to render national service and to defend the country from any external aggression. The defence of the country may be needed against external aggression and war mongering armed rebellion within the country. 

 

  1. Clause (e) of article 51A

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.

 

  1. The duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all Indians essentially flows from the basic value our Indian values of fraternity

  2. India is a country of different castes, languages, religions and many cultural streams but we are one people with one Constitution, one flag and one citizenship. This does not mean the elimination of various types of diversities. It is true that diversities will exist but they should be “transcended” and develops a mental outlook that will enable them to go beyond those diversities. They are required to rise above narrow cultural differences and to strive towards excellence in all spheres of collective activity.

  3. Spirit of brotherhood should come very normally among the citizens of a country like India where the norm has been to consider the entire world as one family, the principle of “Vasudeva Kutumbam”.

  4. It also casts upon us the Duty of ensuring that all practices derogatory to the dignity of women are renounced. This again should come normally to a country where it is a saying that Gods reside where women are worshipped. (yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra devata).

  5. The Dignity of women was also fought by various socio-religious reforma movements in 18th and 18th Century.

  6. The passing of the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 emphasizes the importance of the duty. Many laws have been passed by the Union Government and the State Governments which punish practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

 

  1. Clause (f) of article 51A

 

TO VALUE AND PRESERVE THE RICH HERITAGE OF OUR COMPOSITE CULTURE.

 

  1. Our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and the richest cultures in world, which we have inherited from the past, we must preserve and pass on to the future generations. In fact, each generation leaves its footprints on the sands of time.

  2. India being one of the most ancient civilizations of the world, India can take legitimate pride in having been a civilizational unity without a break for more than five thousand years.

  3. Our contributions in the field of art, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, science, medicine, etc. are well known.

  4. Some of the oldest, deepest philosophical thoughts and literature were born in India. We have several historical monuments of great archaeological value spread over the entire country. These include forts, palaces, temples, cave paintings, mosques, churches, etc.

  5. India has had the honour of being the birthplace of several great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Our past has shown us the path of peace, love, non-violence and truth. As citizens of this country, it is the responsibility of all of us to work for the preservation of this rich heritage and its cultural values and live in love and harmony.

  6. We must hold precious and dear what our fore-fathers have created and their successive generations.

  7. Generations to come always draw inspiration from past history which stimulates them to aim at ever greater heights of achievement and excellence.

The divine core of personality is covered by five dimensions :-

 

(i)                   Physical dimension consisting of the body and the senses;

(ii)                 Energy dimension which performs digestion of food, blood circulation, the respiration and every activities within the body;

(iii)                Mental dimension chracterised by the activities of the mind – thinking and feeling;

(iv)                Intellectual dimension chracterised by the determinative faculty and will power; and

(v)                  Psychic dimension experienced as bliss, e.g. during deep sleep.

t theft even if the whole world may, this is higher law (Asteya);

(ii)                 If a citizen causes hurt to another person, he is punished; this is law.  However, if the citizen takes a determined resolve within himself that he shall not cause hurt to anyone; this is higher law (Ahimsa);

(iii)                If a citizen commits cheating he is punished; this is law.  However, if the citizen takes a determined resolve within himself that he shall not cheat or deceive any body; this is higher law (Satya);

(iv)                If a citizen takes a bribe he is punished; this is law.  However, if every citizen takes a determined resolve not to take bribe, and not to give bribe, even if the whole world may; this is higher law (Aprigraha); and

(v)                  If a citizen outrages the modesty of a women he is punished, this is law.  However, if the citizen takes the determined resolve that (except his wife) he shall always look upon women as his mother, sister or daughter; this is higher law (Brahmacharya).

  1.  Clause (g)

TO PROTECT AND IMPROVE THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT INCLUDING FORESTS, LAKES, RIVERS AND WILD LIFE, AND TO HAVE COMPASSION FOR LIVING CREATURES.

 

  1. Due to increasing pollution and environmental degradation, it is the duty of every citizen to protect  and improve natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures.

  2. The growing air, water and noise pollution and large-scale denudation of forest are causing immense harm to all human life on earth. The mindless and wanton deforestation in the name of needs of development is causing havoc in the form of natural calamities and imbalances.

  3. Earth  is the common heritage of man  and animals. Ancient Indian thought talks ofSarvesham Shantir bhavatu (peace unto all living beings and entire environment) or Ahimsa paramodharma. Ahimsa paramo tapah  (non-violence is the greatest duty and the greatest penance).    

 

  1. Clause (h) of article 51A

 TO DEVELOP THE SCIENTIFIC TEMPER, HUMANISM AND THE SPIRIT OF INQUIRY AND REFORM

 

  1. One of our great founding father, Jawaharlal Nehru always  laid great emphasis on the need for Indian citizens developing a scientific temper and a spirit of inquiry

  2. This was particularly necessary because of the most revolutionary scientific advances during this century and in the context of our background of superstitions and obscurantism.

  3. Scientific temper means outlook founded on organised knowledge and experience. Scientific temper is based on reason and rationality in contradistinction to superstition or blind faith. Scientific temper discards obsolete learning. It requires thirst for knowledge and urge for research for facts and a zeal for setting things right.

 

  1. Clause (i)

 TO  SAFEGUARD PUBLIC PROPERTY AND TO ABJURE VIOLENCE.

 Indian values teach us about non-violence and leading a ascetic life to achieve Moksha 

  1. Clause (j)

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.

  1. The drive for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity is the demand of times and a basic requirement in a highly competitive world

  2. “Excellence” is the secret of all development and all success. “Excellence” brings about communion with the Divine “Yogah Karmsu Kaushalm”.  

 Significance of Fundamental Duties

  • Reminder: They serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying rights they also have some fundamental duties to follow.
  • Warning: They act as a warning against the anti-national activities and antisocial activities like burning of constitution, etc.
  • Inspiration: They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them. They create a feeling that the citizens are not mere spectators but active participants in the realization of national goals.
  • Help to courts: Though non-justiciable in nature, it still helps the court in examining the constitutional validity of the law. If the court finds that a law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Article 14(equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
  • They are now in a way enforceable by law. Hence the Parliament can provide for the imposition of appropriate penalty or punishment for failure to fulfill any of them.

CRITICISM OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

  • Not exhaustive: The list of fundamental duties is not exhaustive i.e. it doesn’t contain other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, etc.
  • Meaning: Some of the duties mentioned are ambiguous & difficult to understand for the common man like the “composite culture” mentioned in the Fundamental Duties.
  • Non-justiciable: It can’t be questioned in the court of law for enforcement. So, it is of no use even if it is included in the constitution. But still various other acts have been formulated by the government which gives effect to these Fundamental Duties & help to punish if not practiced.
  • Unnecessary: Some critics argue that these duties are so general that they will be performed by any citizen of India. There was no need for them to be added in the constitution.
  • Place in the constitution: It has been added in the Part IVA i.e. after Part IV (Which belongs to the Directive Principles of State Policy which are nonenforceable  even with the court of law). It has given the Fundamental Duties a nature of non-obligation. Instead it should have been placed as the Part IIIA i.e. after Part III (it belongs to the Fundamental Rights). It should have been given power at par with Fundamental Rights.

 VERMA COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

  • The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of the Citizens appointed in 1999 identifies the existence of legal provisions for the implementation of some of the Fundamental Duties. They are mentioned below:
  •  The prevention of insults to national honour act (1971) prevents disrespect to the Constitution of India, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • The various criminal laws in force provide for punishments for encouraging enmity between different sections of people on grounds of language, race, place of birth, religion and so on.
  • The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provides for punishments for offences related to caste and religion.
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) declares the imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration as punishable offences.
  • The unlawful activities (Prevention) act of 1976 provides for the declaration of a communal organization as an unlawful association.
  •  The Representation of People Act (1951) provides for the disqualification of members of the Parliament or a state legislature for indulging in corrupt practices, that is, soliciting votes on the ground of religion or promoting enmity between different sections.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.

SOURCES

  1. http://polityo.blogspot.in/2013/03/fundamental-duties.html
  2. http://www.erewise.com/current-affairs/fundamental-duties_art52ca7c700c7e5.html#.VCPT_2eSxng
  3. NATIONAL COMMISSION TO REVIEW THE WORKING OF THE CONSTITUTION: A Consultation Paper on EFFECTUATION OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES OF CITIZENS
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