Fundamental duties in India
Article 51 A: Under this article of our Constitution every citizen has been obligated to perform certain duties called the Fundamental Duties. These duties are defined as the moral obligations of all citizens to help promote a spirit of patriotism and to uphold the unity of India.
Fundamental Duties in India are guaranteed by the constitution of India in Part IV in article 51A. These fundamental duties are recognised as the moral obligations that actually help in upholding the spirit of nationalism as well as to support the harmony of the nation, as well as of the citizens. These duties are designed concerning the individuals and the nation. However, these fundamental duties are not legally enforceable. Furthermore, the citizens are morally obligated by the constitution to perform these duties. These fundamental duties were added by the 42nd amendment act in 1976.
Article 51-A of the constitution provides 10 Fundamental Duties of the citizen. These duties can be classified accordingly as relating to the environment, duties towards the state and the nation and also towards self. However, the main purpose of incorporating the fundamental duties is to encourage the sense of patriotism among the contry's citizens.
The international instruments, such as, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include reference of such fundamental duties. These Fundamental Duties are such commitments that expand to the citizens as well as the state at large. According to the Fundamental Duties, all the citizens should respect the national symbols as well as the constitution of the country. The fundamental duties of the land also intend to uphold the right of equality of all individuals, defend the environment and the public property, to build up scientific temper, to disown violence, to struggle towards excellence and to offer compulsory education. In addition, the 11th Fundamental Duty of the country was added in the year 2002 by the 86th constitutional amendment. It states that every citizen who is a parent or guardian, to offer opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of 6 and 14 years.
The following are the Eleven Fundamental Duties of every citizen of India:
a) To abide by the Constitution and respect the National Flag and the National Anthem
The first and the foremost duty assigned to every citizen of India is to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem. These are the very physical foundations of our citizenship. All of us are supposed to maintain the dignity of the Constitution by not indulging in any activities in violation of the letter or spirit of the Constitution. 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. We are all governed and guided by this Constitution irrespective of caste, religion, race, sex, etc. The Constitution is the result of the many commitments, promises and pledges made by nationalist leaders to the people of India. Also, it embodies efforts of reconciliation, accommodation and compromise. All of us and the Fundamental Rights of each of us are protected by it. Similarly, the National Flag and the National Anthem are symbols of our history, sovereignty, unity and pride. If a citizen of India by any overt or covert act shows disrespect to the Constitution, the National Anthem or the National Flag, it would be not only an anti-social and anti-national activity but it would also spell doom to all our rights and very existence as citizens of a sovereign nation.
Each citizen must therefore not only refrain from any such activity but also do his best to prevent any miscreant trying to show disrespect to our national symbols. Every nation is proud of its citizens because of their dedication, sincerity and patriotism. We, the citizens of India, have to be equally proud of our nation, our Constitution, our National Flag and our National Anthem. We must put the nation above our narrow personal interests and then only we will be able to protect our hard-earned freedom and sovereignty.
b) To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom
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 becomes our duty to remember the sacrifices made by our forefathers for the cause of the country. But, what is much more important is to remember, imbibe and follow the ideals which pervaded our unique struggle. It was not a struggle merely for political freedom of India. 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. If we, the citizens of India remain conscious of and committed to these ideals, we will be able to rise above the various fissiparous tendencies raising their ugly heads now and then, here and there.
c) To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
It imposes a Fundamental Duty on every citizen of India that he shall not do anything derogatory of upholding or protecting the sovereignty, unity or integrity of India. It is a duty prohibitory in nature addressed to traitors and spies.
d) To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
In modern nation-States, it is considered axiomatic that every citizen is bound to be ready to defend the country against war or external aggression. 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.
e) To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
The duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India essentially flows from the basic value of fraternity enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution.
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. 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 Constitution also casts upon us the Fundamental 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 an aphorism that Gods reside where women are worshipped. It is for us to rise above the later day degenerations and aberrations which tarnished the image of our society.
f) To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture
To preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture is another Fundamental Duty of every Indian citizen. Our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and the richest. Also, it is part of the heritage of the earth. What 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. We must hold precious and dear what our fore-fathers have created and their successive generations bequeathed to us as symbols of their artistic excellence and achievements.
Generations to come always draw inspiration from past history which stimulates them to aim at ever greater heights of achievement and excellence. It becomes the ardent duty of every citizen to ensure that these monuments and pieces of art are not in any way damaged, disfigured, scratched or subjected to vandalism or greed of unscrupulous traders and smugglers.
g) To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures
In the face of the menace of the 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. The rising 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. By protecting our forest cover, planting new trees, cleaning rivers, conserving water resources, reforesting wastelands, hills and mountains and controlling pollution in cities, villages and industrial units, we can help save the future of our fellow citizens and of planet earth itself. What is needed is a concerted effort at, an awareness campaign and a planned strategy to move forward through voluntary citizen initiatives. Governmental steps alone cannot help bring about a pollution-free atmosphere to live now and in the future.
h) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
It is the bounden duty of every citizen to preserve and promote a scientific temper and a spirit of inquiry to keep pace with the fast changing world. Also, the Constitution ordains that science and technology must be tempered with a sense of humanism because ultimately the end of all progress is the human being and the quality of life and relationships that is developed.
i) To safeguard public property and to abjure violence
It is most unfortunate that in a country which preaches non-violence to the rest of the world, we see from time to time spectacles of senseless violence and destruction of public property indulged in by a few of its citizens. This is why it became necessary to prescribe the responsibility "to safeguard public property and abjure violence" as a fundamental citizenship duty.
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.
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.
Nothing but the best would have survival potential in tomorrow's world. This would include respect for professional obligations and excellence. Whatever work we take up either as individual citizens or as groups, our effort should be directed to achieving the goal of excellence. Also, special emphasis is called for in the area of collective activity.
k) To provide opportunities for education by the parent the guardian, to his child, or a ward between the age of 6-14 years as the case may be
The 11th point was adopted by 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002. The fundamental duties are inspired by the Constitution of former Soviet Union. Since, the fundamental duties are included in part IV of the Constitution, these cannot come into force automatically, neither can these duties be enforced by judicial process. The Constitution, like directive principles of state policies, leaves to the goodwill of citizen to abide these provisions. According to the famous Constitutional expert D.D. Basu, the constitution does not make any provision to enforce these duties automatically or any sanction to prevent the violation of these duties by the citizen. However, it is expected that if a law is enacted by the legislature to enforce these provisions, its shall not be declared unconstitutional on the ground of its inconsistency with the provisions of Article 14 and that of 19.
According to him, these provisions would act as a warning to all those who does indulge in not paying due regard to the Constitution and destroying public property. The Supreme court may issue such warning to citizen to take these provisions seriously. The legislature may also enact laws to enforce these duties. In fact, there are already many laws which directly or indirectly enforce these duties. For example, there is law for the protection of public property as well as environment and animal species.