Everyone knows about the duties to be performed to become a good parent, brother, sister and trying best to succeed in it. Everyone strives hard to be loyal to a life partner. All are very much concerned about their role in society and act accordingly. But, have we ever thought about what our country expects from us? Have we ever been worried about our duties as a citizen? We have been consuming a lot of resources and services from the country and its government since we were born but have we ever tried to know our responsibilities towards our motherland?
I am sure most of the readers are saying “no” at least in their minds even if they’re not expressing it physically. Most of the people don’t even know about their rights let alone duties. So, let’s know what our Constitution expects from a citizen. Let’s take a note that what our founding fathers wanted from the next generation of India which they have included in the Constitution.
The Constitution has pointed out 11 fundamental duties in Article 51(A) to be performed by an Indian citizen.
1) To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
How many of us know the ideals of our constitution? we have been taught to stand straight while playing of the national anthem in our schools but how many of us know its meaning or sense? And nowadays, I think people are more concerned about saffron as a colour rather than a tricolour flag. I have met many who even don’t know that anything like the Constitution exists in India.
2) To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom
India has had a long drawn freedom struggle spanning more than 100 years. Thousands of people had sacrificed their lives for the freedom which we are getting right now. All of them fought with a strong sense of unity without caring for their personal interests, religion, and ideologies. They dreamt of a democratic India with ideals of secularism, fraternity, and justice. Though we are very busy with our personal lives but at least can give some minutes to give a thought to these ideals which inspired our freedom struggle.
3) To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India
India is the most peculiar country in the world with a huge diversity of religions, culture, regions, etc. So, it becomes very important for us to preserve its unity and integrity. But, the communal and caste-based coloring of people has threatened this unity. Many of us even including youth have such divisive sentiments. Sentiments of hatred on social media against other citizens on religious, racial and caste lines don’t make us a citizen of India.
4) To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
I think, defending the country and rendering national service can only be done by following the Constitution in general and obeying these duties in particular. Sloganeering “Bharat Mata ki jai!” (Long live Mother India!) while having communal thinking is not national service. Defending any government or party even on a violation of constitutional principles in the garb of nationalism is not defending the country. We should think about the country before any party, ideology or government. But, strange thing is that the popular political narrative in India has always excluded India.
5) 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
Although we have always claimed India to have an unbreakable brotherhood across all cultural barriers, the reality is different. We are still selecting our food delivery executive or cab driver on religion basis and openly advocating this on social media. We are still abusing each other with communal remarks.
As far as the dignity of women is concerned, instead of renouncing practices derogatory to them, we have adopted new means in the form of social media to harass them. India witnessed about 106 rape cases every day in 2016 with 40% victims as minors. We are continuing to subjugate women mercilessly.
6) To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture
Having a mix of multiple religions, regions, languages, etc. Indian society has developed a distinct composite culture. I think, this culture mainly revolves around tolerance. We should accept the views or traditions of others unless these are against the constitutional paradigm. However, we have been witnessing killings merely on the basis of food habits and religious slogans. Social media is filled with intolerant remarks even on petty arguments. We have lost our capability to listen to others patiently and rationally.
Gandhi wrote in his book Hind Swaraj that, “I respect every leader without any ideological bias.” Let’s follow his words instead of simply worshipping him.
7) To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures
Climate change has made it absolute necessary to protect nature from our sins. Being a citizen, we can improve our daily lifestyle in a transformative manner to conserve the environment. But the concern is that the environment is almost absent in our discussions. None of us hold government accountable to our nature while voting. India has some of the most polluted cities of the world and the revered Ganga is littered with waste.
8) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
This is the duty we have disobeyed the most. We don’t want to listen to anyone who speaks against our views. We don’t have a spirit of inquiry to know about other’s insights. We don’t enrich ourselves with new perspectives and continue to revolve around a single narrative. Humanism has been overpowered by other artificial divisions among humans.
9) To safeguard public property and to abjure violence
I feel that we damage or become ignorant towards public property because of its “public” nature only. Nobody is here to punish us for any damage to public property. People showed their true nature when the semi-luxurious Tejas express took its first ride and ended up with damaged LCD screens, toilets, headphones, etc. If people had considered it their own property, they would not have done this. It’s our duty to consider this country and its resources as our own and preserve them.
10) To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement
This is the same expectation even our teachers have from us. Our Constitution wants every citizen to strive towards excellence and enrich self with knowledge continuously. Only getting a job and being satisfied with a luxurious materialistic life is not enough for our country. Our hunger to learn should not end after getting a job. I have always heard youth saying that “ek baar job lag jaaye, phir kuch nahi karna” (once I get a job, I won’t have to do much else).
This is the reason that even after launching missions to Mars and the moon, the country is still struggling with orthodoxy and narrow thinking which hinders growth. Society is filled with rigid and heartless educated minds who work like robots. So, exploring self and endeavoring to work with the maximum potential should be the goal of every citizen.
11) 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 to fourteen years.
This is the latest duty added in the constitution to provide every child a right to get a basic elementary education under the RTE act. Private schools have also been mandated to reserve 25% of seats for economically backward students. But, as per the 2011 Census, India still has about 1 crore child labourers who are being deprived of education. A parent has a crucial role not only in sending a child to school but also in providing them with a basic moral foundation for life.
So, this is like a checklist for us to know whether we deserve to be India’s citizen or not. These duties can also be a basic standard for being an individual with a conscious and intellectual mind having a moral attitude. Let’s evaluate ourselves on these points and figure out where we are standing. Even apart from this gyaan, we should at least repay country by following these duties in return of whatever we are taking from India.