Sunday, January 23, 2022

Shifting Focus – Citizens’ Rights to Duties

By The Editorial Team Updated: Nov 27, 2019 10:51 pm

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right when he noted that rights mean nothing without performing duties. The Prime Minister stated this in a function to celebrate the Constitution Day in parliament. Mr. Modi’s speech on the occasion should not be treated as an attempt to curb the rights given to the citizens by the constitution. Rather, we should introspect how much respect we have for the constitution before claiming rights.

In India, we talk about constitution only when situations like Maharashtra arise. Some term it as murder of democracy, while others find no flaws in the episode. But violation of constitution is not limited to such incidents. Even in our daily lives, we violate the constitution more often than not. One example is sufficient to prove this fact. Among the fundamental duties described in the constitution is that every citizen should respect the National Flag. But do we really show respect to National Flag by waving it while National Anthem is being played? The situation demands that everyone will stand and sing the National Anthem in a standstill position. But does it really happen on cricket fields when India plays against other nations? Ironically, the scenes of people waving National Flag during National Anthem are telecasted live on Television. But so far no one has come forward even to raise a question against such crude show of patriotism by disrespecting the National Flag.

The constitution may be a compilation of written laws. But there is more in a constitution. It can’t be referred merely as a law book. It has the duties defined for everyone starting from the Head of the State to common citizens. Before demanding for constitutional rights, one has to know his or her duties towards the nation. Otherwise, talking about constitutional remedies is meaningless. If as citizens of the country don’t know how to respect the constitution, we can’t claim the rights suggested by it. But quite unfortunately we talk more about our rights than thinking about our duties.

It is a fact that fundamental duties were not a part of the original constitution when it was adopted. Fundamental duties were included in the constitution by the 42 amendment in accordance to Japanese constitution. But those who raised this point must remember that initially it was left to the people to understand their duties towards the nation and this was not an ambitious expectation. After all the country had gained freedom after 200-years of struggle. At that point it was realistic to hope that citizens would obviously dedicate themselves towards nation building. This was the thought of our constitution makers. When that expectation was not fulfilled, it necessitated the introduction of fundamental duties. So effort to belittle fundamental duties by saying that it was not a part of original constitution is unjustified. Whether it is a part of the constitution or not, the duties must be performed before talking about rights.

As things have not changed after the inclusion of fundamental duties, the Prime Minister was obliged to make the said remark. Now, it is for the people to decide which one they would prefer – rights or duties? But before making a choice, everyone should remember that one is meaningless in absence of the other. Rights and duties can’t be separated. If one wants to enjoy rights, he or she will have to perform duties first.


By The Editorial Team Updated: Nov 27, 2019 10:51:10 pm