A citizen is a person who is entitled to enjoy all the legal rights and privileges granted by a state to the people comprising its constituency, and is obligated to obey its laws and to fulfill his or her duties as called upon. The Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for acquisition of Indian citizenship by birth, by descent, by registration and by naturalization. Further, the constitution of India prescribes the fundamental obligations of State to its citizens and duties of citizens towards State in the form of Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties as various sections of the constitution. These sections comprise vital elements of our constitution. The Fundamental Rights are defined as basic human rights of the citizen. These apply to all citizens of India and are enforceable by the laws. The Fundamental duties on the other hand are not legally enforceable. These are the moral obligations of the citizens to uphold the patriotism and unity of the nation.
As a member of a civilized state a citizen is expected to discharge his duties well and to enjoy the privilege granted by the state. In short, his rights and his duties are inter connected. He cannot ask for privileges or right without performing his duties.
Sadly, we the citizens of India, have learnt rights verbatim as per the Constitution. We enjoy our rights fully and raise our voice when we don’t find them coming to us. But, we have never, yes, never bothered to be particular about our duties as well. This situation is absolutely shameful and derogatory. For instance, the Indian constitution grants us the Right of Freedom of Speech which we all use to the maximum. We speak so very freely that we can abuse or pass insulting remarks about anyone. Even in the highest realms of the political arena we see leaders hurling abuses at each other in public, using the most discourteous and in-parliamentary language, in reference to each other. Is this the freedom of speech sanctioned to us?
To safeguard public property and to abjure violence is a fundamental duty of Indian citizens, as nicely put in words in our constitution, but, at the first outburst of our tempers we tend to destroy bridges, roads and other civic installations. Just comprehend for yourselves and think of what kind of citizens we are?
The problem with us has been that, for the last fifty years of our independent existence, not only the common man but, even the Government has laid too much stress on rights, rights and rights – but regarding our duties which are also clearly mentioned in our Constitution no one is inclined to bother about. The magnitude of indiscipline and ill behavior that we see every day in every sphere of life is just because we citizens of India are not at all aware of our duties as citizens, towards the country, towards the Government, and towards our fellow citizens. It is a wonder if citizens of any other country individually or collectively could be enjoying so much, without giving anything in return.
The current demand of the Nation is not what are the duties of a citizen or how it is morally important for a citizen to abide by his duties, rather how to ensure that a citizen stands by its duties. The larger perspective is what happens when we do not abide by our duties? What we can do at this moment to make such changes that every citizen of this country performs his duties responsibly which gives larger benefit of nation building.
Recommendation 1: Legal enforcement of Fundamental Duties
As per the constitution of India the rights are legally enforceable but the duties are not. Now after more than 60 years of independence we have been unable to develop the moral conscience of citizens towards the nation. A person behaves in a certain manner when either he is being directly benefited from it or he is penalized for his misbehave. Since there is no such binding on citizens by law to abide by citizens duties, thus citizens take it so casually and don’t bother to fulfill their duties towards the nation. There should be amendments in the constitution where non adherence to duties shall be a punishable offence.
Recommendation 2: Giving benefits to encourage responsible behavior
As written above benefits associated with any task makes it more lucrative to people. A virtual badge can be provided for fulfilling some duty. And a proof should be submitted for that. A collection of certain number of badges can be bartered for some social recognition or small monetary benefit as mobile recharge for a month.
Recommendation 3: Character building of the coming generations
The third most important thing is to build such character of the coming generations that their moral conscience is well developed. They become aware citizen who do not need either benefit or fear to fulfill their duties. We have high stress put on academic subjects in school. Moral science should be kept at par with the rest of the academics. Making a compulsion to pass the subject should be there. Moral science and principles are something that needs to be taught to us when we are children. It will certainly impact in long term in being a good human being and a good citizen. Good citizens always make a good nation.
I understand that there is a group of people who do perform their duties well understanding the morals behind them and numbers are increasing but that will take decades to make cover complete population. Till that time we need some sort of either appreciation or punishment. Like Swach Baharat – some people do it because they understand the benefit to them and their children and the majority of people do not do it. Is aggressive marketing and awareness sufficient? It is being already done by Modi ji for Swach Baharat. We need to think of something out of the box – Innovation.
No democratic polity can ever succeed where the citizens are not willing to be active participants in the process of governance by assuming responsibilities and discharging citizenship duties and coming forward to give their best to the country, However government has to be equally be active in enforcing citizens to comply with these duties.
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