Insights into Editorial: What the citizen must do + MINDMAPS on Current Issues
09 December 2015
With both houses of Parliament debating the constitution, Members of Parliament recently got an opportunity to take a close look at this fundamental law of the land and also gained an insight into the phenomenal contributions made by our constitution makers. When debate over the constitution comes up, naturally, focus shifts on to the historical significance of the primacy of the fundamental rights of citizens. These rights placed India at the forefront of nations that cherish human rights.
- The historic significance of these rights lies in the fact that people who suffered colonial oppression and the loss of basic rights for a long time reasserted themselves with a rare zeal in a constitution they gave unto themselves.
- It is equally important to note that these rights were not just confined to freedoms mentioned under Article 19(1) and the right to life and liberty, but also extend to include the freedom of religion. The Constitution guarantees that these rights will be protected from any encroachment.
Significance of fundamental duties:
While fundamental rights are crucial to the survival of a vibrant democracy, there’s an equally important aspect to an organized society that we often ignore. For a polity to survive, citizens should have a high sense of duty.
- The Constitution-makers didn’t think it necessary to list out the duties of citizens because they couldn’t have perceived a society that ignores such duties.
- However, filling a crucial gap, these duties were added to the constitution through the 42nd Amendment. These duties are fundamental to the survival of this nation as an organized polity.
Lack of awareness:
Even three decades after the fundamental duties were incorporated, there’s no adequate awareness among citizens.
- In 1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government had appointed the Justice J.S. Verma Committee “to operationalise the suggestions to teach fundamental duties to the citizens of the country”.
- This committee submitted its report containing a number of recommendations for the government to act on.
- The Committee had suggested, among other recommendations, changes in school and teacher education curricula to incorporate the teaching of fundamental duties, in a serious way, to children. If children learn these in the classroom, they will grow up with a sense of duty imprinted on their minds.
- There are also schemes being implemented by the ministry of home affairs, HRD ministry, the environment ministry, etc, to promote the teaching of fundamental duties. There’s also a big involvement of voluntary agencies. But the impact of governmental as well as non-governmental involvement in this process is not being felt much.
We are living in a period in which Indian society is being subjected to unhealthy and dangerous pulls and pressures. India has a composite culture. Every race that inhabited this land has contributed to the development of this culture. Every citizen has a duty to preserve it. The fundamental duties are not trite formulations to be read and ignored. While we debate the Constitution, we should lay sufficient emphasis on the fundamental duties of citizens. Rights and duties have to exist together. Rights without duties will lead to anarchy.
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