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We have Rights. Don't talk to us about Duties.

Updated: 6 days ago

The recent national elections in India once again threw up some stark contrasts in the approach of different political parties and their leaders.

One group who claimed to be Socialists were willing to stoop to any level to win the vote. Giving bribes, convincing the masses that they were victims and promising to solve these mostly imaginary problems and grievances. Frightening the citizens about a very bad future if they were not voted into power. They constantly harped on heaping largesse upon the masses, basically for doing nothing except vote for them. They hammered home the point that it was the people's right to demand and receive unjust, unearned and unsustainable benefits.

Another group who claimed to be Nationalists promised benefits and prosperity but not bribes.

Rather they asked the citizens to remember their duties and obligations to themselves, their society and country and to strive with the government's help to better their lives.

Politicians like to tell citizens that they have rights, and it is they alone who are going to protect and deliver to them these rights.

Unfortunately, even the Judiciary is focused mainly on protecting the rights of individuals, whilst mostly ignoring the need for the individual to fulfil their duties towards Society and the State. This is a deep flaw in representative democracies.

The State and Society cannot speak for themselves and their rights as easily as an individual or group can. If everyone is only for himself then who is for Society and the State?

A citizen's rights cannot be automatic. Rights have to be earned.

If a person fails in his or her fundamental duties they must forfeit their rights.

Without fulfilling their responsibilities to Society and the State, the individual cannot legally and morally demand rights.


I present to you here the rights and duties of citizens of India as per the Constitution.

These are the Fundamental Rights recognised by the Indian constitution (Article 12 to 35, part III)

  1. Right to equality

  2. Right to freedom

  3. Right against exploitation

  4. Right to freedom of religion

  5. Cultural and Educational Rights

  6. Right to constitutional remedies

  7. Right to Privacy

These rights are granted by the State on the condition that citizens fulfil their fundamental duties. Unfortunately politicians, government and judiciary rarely question the failure of a citizen's duties mainly questioning only the infringement of rights.

Fundamental Duties:

The Constitution of India states that 'It shall be the duty of every citizen of India,

  1. To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired our national struggle for freedom.

  3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.

  4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.

  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.

  6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.

  7. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.

  8. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

  9. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.

  10. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collectively so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.

  11. Who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the ages of 6 and 14 years.'


But who will bell the cat?

Who will take on the unpleasant but essential task of demanding duties and responsibilities from citizens?

It has to be taken up by parents and teachers in the young.

Establishing an approach of commitment to service and duty is difficult but not impossible in democracies, all it needs is committed leadership in society.

A commitment demonstrated by political, judicial, religious, social and business leaders in a Society.

India has chosen some politicians, some criminals, a few terrorists and thankfully several Statesmen to lead them for the next 5 years. The world watches with bated breath as the largest and deepest experiment in a colourful, confusing but genuine people's democracy trundles along and goes into play. It promises to be exciting and transformative.

Politicians and judges like to play 'god' and they will continue to do so unless we compel them to stop exercising privilege at the expense of transparency and accountability. And that my friends is the most fundamental duty of the individual in any society.


Interesting Links:

Fundamental Rights ~ Know India

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