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Question – Gandhi’s statement “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”, is very accurate in terms of the fundamental duties provided in the Constitution. Do you agree? – 8 June 2021
Initially, the fundamental duties were not provided for the citizens under the constitution, but with time there was an increase in the activities of anti-social and anti-national elements in the society, as a result of making citizens aware of such activities and spreading the sense of duty in them. To do this, in the year 1976, provision of Fundamental Duties was made under Article-51A in Part-4A of the Constitution.
These enjoin upon a citizen among other things, to abide by the Constitution, to cherish and follow noble ideals, which inspired India’s struggle for freedom, to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so, and to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.
Meaning of Fundamental Duties
- Fundamental duties are a social contract between the state and the citizens, which is legitimized by the constitution of a country.
- It is also important, relative to rights, that all citizens should be honest in the discharge of their obligations towards society and the state.
Fundamental Duties mentioned in the Constitution:
- Abide by the Indian Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
- Cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom
- Uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
- Defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
- Promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
- Value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture
- Protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures
- Develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
- Safeguard public property and to abjure violence
- Strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement
- Provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years. This duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002
Importance of Fundamental Duties:
- Significantly, many countries around the world have worked to transform themselves into developed economies by imbibing the principles of ‘responsible citizenship’.
- The United States can be considered as the best example in this regard. The United States issues a document to its citizens called the ‘Citizens’ Almanac, which details the duties of all citizens.
- Another example is Singapore, whose growth story began with the performance of duties by citizens. As a result, Singapore transformed itself from an underdeveloped nation to a developed nation in a short span of time.
- Fundamental duties act as a kind of alert for the citizens of the country. Significantly, citizens should be aware of their duties towards their country and other citizens.
- These act as a warning to the people against anti-social activities like burning of flag, destruction of public property or disturbing public peace etc.
- These help in achieving the national goals by ensuring active participation of citizens along with promoting the spirit of discipline and commitment towards the nation.
Relevance of Fundamental Duties:
- Even three decades after the inclusion of Fundamental Duties in the Constitution, there is a lack of adequate awareness among the citizens regarding it.
- A PIL filed in 2016 revealed the fact that nearly 9 per cent of the country’s citizens, including Supreme Court lawyers, judges and MPs, do not perform the duties mentioned in Article 51A of the Constitution. The main reason for this is that they are not aware of this.
- At present, for the progress of India, it has become imperative to emphasize the need to discharge the fundamental duties.
- It is pertinent to mention that from several recent incidents, it appears that we have been unable to maintain the spirit of brotherhood in the country.
- It is important to note that unless citizens exercise their fundamental rights as well as perform fundamental duties, we will not be able to strengthen the roots of democracy in the Indian society.
Despite being non-enforceable, the concept of Fundamental Duty is important for democratic nations like India. A democracy will not be said to be alive unless its citizens are ready to take an active part in governance and assume responsibilities for the best interest of the country. Therefore, it is not in Indian interest at all to remove the concept of Fundamental Duties from the Constitution, it is necessary that reforms in various aspects of it should be discussed and necessary alternatives should be explored.