Fundamental Duties of the Citizens of India

The fundamental duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of our constitution by 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976. Presently we have 11 fundamental duties in our constitution under article 51-A, which are statutory duties and are enforceable by law. The idea behind the incorporation of the fundamental rights was to emphasise the obligation of the citizen in exchange of the comprehensive fundamental rights enjoyed by them.

Fundamental Duties of the citizens have also been enumerated for the Indian citizens By the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, adopted in 1976. Article 51 ‘A’ contained in Part IV A of the Constitution deals with Fundamental Duties. Fundamental Duties are taken from the Constitution of Russia.

The Following are the Duties in Our Constitution:

a) To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem- It is the duty of every citizen to respect the ideals, which include liberty, justice, equality, fraternity and institutions namely, executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Hence all of us are supposed to maintain the dignity of constitution by not indulging in any activities which violate them in letter and spirit. It also states that if a citizen by any overt or covert act shows disrespect to the constitution, the National Anthem or the National Flag it would spell doom to all our rights and very existence as citizens of a sovereign nation.

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. These ideals were those of building a just society and a united nation with freedom, equality, non violence, brotherhood and world peace. If the citizens of India remain conscious of and committed to these ideals, we will be able to rise above the various separatist tendencies raising their ugly heads now and then, here and there.

c) To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India- it is one of the pre eminent national obligations of all the citizens of the India. India is a vast and diverse nation with different caste, religion, sex and linguistic people; if freedom and unity of the country are jeopardized then united nation is not possible. Hence in a way sovereignty lies with the people. It may be recalled that these were first mentioned in preamble and also under 19(2) of fundamental rights reasonable restrictions are permitted on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

d) To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so – it is the duty of every citizen to defend our country against external enemies. All the citizens are bound to be conscious of any such elements entering India and also when in need, they should be ready to take up arms to defend themselves. It is addressed to all the citizens other than those belonging to army, navy and the air force.

e) To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women – Given the vast diversities among people, the presence of one flag and single citizenship strengthens the spirit of brotherhood among the citizens. It states that people should rise above narrow cultural differences and strive towards excellence in all spheres of collective activity.

f) To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture – our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and richest, it is also part of the heritage of the earth. Hence it is our duty to protect what we have inherited from the past, preserve it and pass on to the future generations. India is also one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. Our contributions towards art, science, literature is well known to the world, also this land is birth place of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

g) To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures – these natural reserves are the most valued assets of our country hence it is the duty of every citizen to protect it. Rising pollution, large scale degradation of forests is causing immense harm to all the human lives on earth. Increasing natural calamities is a proof to it. It is also reinforced in other constitutional provision under article 48A i.e. Directive Principles of State Policy which states that, to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife

h) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform – It is a known fact that it is necessary to learn from the experiences and developments around the world for our own development. It is duty of every citizen to protect and promote scientific temper and spirit of inquiry to keep pace with fast changing world.

i) To safeguard public property and to abjure violence – it is unfortunate that in a country which preaches non-violence to the rest of the world, we ourselves see from time to time incidents of senseless violence and destruction of public property. Among all the fundamental duties this one holds a great significance in current scenario when strike, protest etc have become a common phenomenon. Whenever there is a strike or bandh or rally, mob develops mentality to harm public properties like buses, buildings and to loot them and citizens who are protectors become mute spectators.

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. –As responsible citizens whatever work we take up should be directed towards achieving the goal of excellence so that our country constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. This clause has potential to not only regenerate and reconstruct the country but also to raise it to the highest possible level of excellence.

k) Who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years – it was the recommendation of National Commission to Review the Working of constitution, to make education a fundamental right of all the children up to age of 14. 86th Constitutional amendment Act, 2002 however provided for free and compulsory education as a legally enforceable fundamental right for all children between 6 to 14 years of age.

Criticism of Fundamental Duties:

• Some of them are difficult to be understood by common people

• Criticized for being moral precepts, pious platitudes, vague and repetitive

• No need to be implemented as they all are performed by the people even if not included

• Their inclusion in Part IV-A after fundamental rights has reduced their value and significance.

• Some of the important points which were recommended by Swaran Singh committee were not included, such as

1. Parliament should impose penalty or punishment in case of non compliance of duties

2. If punishment is imposed according to above clause, it cannot be called in question in any court on any ground

3. Duty to pay taxes to be incorporated as fundamental duty

• Other important duties like family planning, voting etc should be included

Thus, finally it can be said that the government efforts cannot be successful unless citizens of the country generally participate in the decision making process of the government. Even the unstated duties like voting should be effectively discharged by the citizens. Public spirited people and politicians should come forward to take interest in local community problems. These duties are a constant reminder to us of the national goals as well as the basic norms of political order. They may inspire us to inculcate in ourselves a sense of social responsibility.

Directive Principles of State Policy

Fundamental Rights

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