Opinion: We Must Fight For Our Rights But It’s Equally Important To Know Our Duties

26th January; a day when the world’s lengthiest constitution for the world’s largest democracy was implemented. The struggle for freedom was over on 15th August 1947, but the real struggle had just begun; to build an independent nation and establish a democracy.

A democracy that was based on the ideas of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. With all the efforts taken by the assembly for 2 years, 11 months and 18 days, a new Constitution was adopted on 26th November 1949. The remaining provisions of the Constitution came into force on 26th January 1950.

26th January 1950; a day that is marked in the history of India as the birth of a new republic. Undoubtedly, the lengthiest constitution in the world was written considering all the factors of our country. However, what is the Constitution?

“A Constitution means a document having a special legal sanctity which sets out the framework and the principle functions of the organs of the Government of a State and declares the principles governing the operation of those organs.” (from Wade and Philips—Constitutional Law,p.1 {4th edition})

The framers had carefully drafted the Constitution, adopting some of the essential characteristics of the American Federal Constitution. If the framers had adopted the chapter of the Fundamental Rights on the model of the American Constitution, they had even drafted the chapter of the Fundamental Duties (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 for the citizens of our country.

26th January; a day when the world’s lengthiest constitution for the world’s largest democracy was implemented.

Our Constitution provides equal status to all, irrespective of their caste, creed, gender or religion. These are the six Fundamental Rights provided to the citizens of India:

  1. Right To Equality (Article 14- Article 18)
  2. Right To Religion ( Article 25- Article 28)
  3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23 – Article 24)
  4. Right to Culture and Education (Article 29 – Article 30)
  5. Right to Freedom (Article 19 – Article 22)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

Justice

Our Constitution was drafted considering the rights of and the duties for the citizens of India. It secures their rights at the social, economic and political levels with Justice.

While entering the 71st Republic day, we are yet to meet JUSTICE. In the past couple of years, we have witnessed how sensitive rape cases were delayed or manipulated. In our country, the rural population is always deprived of social and economic justice, even though 70% depend on agriculture and contribute 23% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Liberty

The dreadful partition of India in 1947 was based on the Two-Nation theory. This theory backed the idea of having separate nations based on religion. In spite of that, our country chooses to be a secular state that provides its citizens with the liberty to express their thoughts and practice their faiths.

However, religion has always been used as a tool to win maximum votes. For almost a decade now lynching cases have risen in our country. Again these attacks were based on religion and their beliefs. Hence we are deprived of LIBERTY too.

Equality

The preamble states, “Equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all”. However, we all are equal only with the status but not with the opportunities.

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. The right to education promises quality and free education to the underprivileged, but we face a harsh reality there too. As per reports, there are about 35 million children between the age group of 6-14 years who have never attended a school.

The rest are burdened with exorbitant fees. Ironically, every one of our rights has been exploited, at all levels, and by all the political parties that are in power. In my opinion, the ‘reserved’ stay back in the country, and the rest, from the ‘general category’ fly away. Nevertheless, we Indians are born fighters.

So, these were some of the basic ideas on which our Constitution was framed.

It’s a disheartening situation; 70 years of Independence from the British era and yet we are unable to develop a crime-free India, violence, terrorism, caste issues and social inequality keep raising their head.

Duties

India flag people FB
India flag people FB

For the past 70 years, we, as citizens of India, have always stated and fought for our rights. Coming onto the streets and raising our voices are the foundation laid during the freedom struggle. However, not all of our protests were successful.

As responsible citizens of a democratic country, we know all our rights and want them all. Yes, for sure; because, as legal citizens of the country, we are entitled to legal rights and benefits provided by the state. But apart from knowing and demanding our rights, do we also know our duties towards our state and country?

These duties were framed in the constitution for the citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviours. These are as follows:

  1. Abide by the Constitution and respect the national flag and national anthem
  2. Follow ideals of the freedom struggle
  3. Uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India
  4. Defend the country and render national services when called upon
  5.  Promote a spirit of common brotherhood
  6. Preserve composite culture
  7. Preserve natural environment
  8. Develop scientific temper
  9. Safeguard public property
  10. Strive for excellence
  11. Duty for all parents/guardians to send their children in the age group of 6-14 years to school.

We are witnessing, that every duty that we are reminded of, makes us feel like we are burdened with unwanted responsibilities. We are not perfect as a nation but together, billion of Indians can make this happen.

In the past couple of years, many initiatives taken by the government were questioned and doubted. In my opinion, the initiatives and Public Welfare Schemes like, “Padhega India tabhi toh badhega India”, (a slogan that means ‘only if India studies can India grow’), “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (Save the girl child by educating her) will be effective only, if we, as citizens, fulfil our duties.

The government can provide means to fulfil our dreams, but it is us, who need to work on them. I think it is disgraceful, that even in the 21st century, our government has to remind us to keep our surroundings and our country clean.

Vision For India

We all hold a vision for our future, and vision that allows all of us to prosper, by all means, socially and economically. India is no more a सोने की चिड़िया (Golden bird) but yes together we can make it work. We need a country;

  • That is a discrimination-free from caste, creed, and religion
  • Where every sector and section of the society prospers
  • Where citizens duly perform their duties and enjoy their rights too
  • Where there is transparency in the governing bodies
  • That fights against terrorism, poverty and climate change
  • That is safe to walk and breathe in

I’m ending with a thought, that India, now on its 71st Republic day, is neither the independent nation that our freedom fighters dreamt of nor a country which our future generations want to breathe in.

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