The Fundamental Right to Perform a Duty

I read this tweet by Harini Calamur today.

I wonder why, when people discuss fundamental rights — as laid down in the Constitution – they forget fundamental duties ?

I think I know the answer.

They don’t forget. They just don’t know! I do not know what Harini’s tweet was about, but I suspect it was about the recent comment made by Arundhati Roy. I think, it’s a problem of education, that most of us know our fundamental rights by heart, but often aren’t even aware of the fundamental duties. Civics education needs to be standing on its head, if this is what education is doing.

In society, in the workplace, in the local community, at home, it is all about exercising our rights, with little or no regard for the duties.

Here is the extract from our constitution, Article 51A, which defines what fundamental duties are. There are ten fundamental duties, and an additional, eleventh, was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002, which added a duty on every parent or guardian to ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the ages of six and fourteen years. The first ten are:

Article 51A. Fundamental Duties

It shall be the duty of every citizens of India:
(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;

(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;

(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;

(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;

(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;

(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;

(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;

(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation cons levels of endeavour and achievement.

I don’t know why I write this post. But, I am going to post it.


8 thoughts on “The Fundamental Right to Perform a Duty

  1. 🙂
    it was partly about the Arundathi Roy silliness – but she is just one part of it…
    My grouse is that people keep talking about Constitutional Rights – but there are duties associated with those rights …
    something as simple as – there is an uproar about Kalmadi (rightly so) breaking rules in CWG allocation of work- — yet most people, without thinking break rules on a daily basis – not stopping at traffic lights, bribing etal…
    there is a duty to follow the law …
    Indians seem to think that the laws are for other people, duties are for other people — not for them 😦

    there is a longish blogpost being worked out in my brain, one of these days i will actually put fingers to keyboard and get it out of my system … it really, really bugs me !


    • That’s exactly what the last line in my post was – the reason why I was not sure of why I wrote the post was just that – there is a larger, much larger story to this about how we behave – that was supposed to come out – and it didn’t.

      Maybe our posts will follow each other’s.



  2. such a clear-cut set of duties in the Constitution! may be, if copies of the Constitution were available more easily, at least some Indians would be a little more well-behaved and well-informed than they are..

    our media law teacher asked us if we ever wondered why copies of the Indian Constitution are not readily and cheaply available.. The government publishing houses have a duty to ensure such copies and it’s our duty to demand..


    • Interesting thought. Just having copies available won’t help; the language is such that it will require “translation.

      The flip-side to the argument is – given that it is available somewhere, somehow – how many people are trying to access it, understand it.


  3. Came here after reading Gauri Gharpure’s tweet.

    It’s good to be reminded of our fundamental duties. We conveniently forget those, but remember our rights very vocally! Thanks.


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