Rights and Duties are like to two sides of a coin, absolutely inseparable. Whenever and wherever we have any rights, we must have corresponding duties. Whether it be the home, the society or the country, in every sphere of life we have rights and duties that go hand in hand. We have rights in the same measure as we have duties. Let us be very clear that there can be no rights without an equal measure of corresponding duties or responsibilities.
Part III of the Indian Constitution enumerates the Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens, including the right to equality, speech, expression etc. However, originally the Indian Constitution did not include a chapter on fundamental duties of citizens.
In 1976 only this has been incorporated in order to restrict and balance rights and duties. However, sufficient attention has not been given to duties of the citizens and this neglect is here for all of us to see and bear. All Indians are very well aware of their rights but none yes, none of any category seem to be equally aware of duties. We continue to ask for this right and that right but, do we ever wait to ponder if we are doing our duties also?
Not only the Indian Constitution even most of the Western countries have ignored the inclusion of fundamental duties in their books. However, there it did not ever lead to chaos similar to what we see here in India. This is because, most of these advanced countries of the West are imbued with a high sense of patriotism as a result of education and training in their elementary duties and obligations as citizens. There also people are taught about their rights but, at the same time they are also taught what the country expects from them.
By and large, they conduct themselves as responsible citizens of their respective countries, showing full regard to all others and to the country. The education and training given to them makes it possible for them to be responsible even though, even there, people’s duties are not very clearly specified, but the education makes a great difference.
This situation does not exist in India, where 75% are rural masses mostly unlettered. These people having received all rights like the educated do not know what their corresponding duties are. In this connection, I would like to point out that, in India, even the so-called educated are not really aware of their duties, and, it is this that makes the situation dangerous and disastrous for the country.
Whether the duties be for the family, the society, the office, or the country we Indians as a whole are blissfully ignorant of our duties on all fronts. Successive Governments through the fifty-five years of our independence have also made no effort at all to awaken us to our duties.
All the time we hear from the pulpits that we must know about our rights but never, yes never do we hear that we must perform our duties only then, we get our rights. With this situation having existed for decades we only continue to be very well aware of our rights on all fronts but absolutely ignorant of the corresponding duties. With this situation rampant for decades, we Indians have become too much rights oriented, and we are never prone to think that, all those rights could be having duties with them.
For instance, in the family all children seem to know that, whatever there is in the house is theirs, they have a right on it all. Do they ever also realize that they have some duties also towards their parents, their grandparents and the home, or anyone else in the home? They never think of this aspect of their rights and never do the parents also teach them. This makes the children develop only an understanding of their rights.
Our attitude to the society is no better. We all expect the society to help us when we need help but, do we ever think that we also owe something to the same society? On the highest plane, the nation, when the country gives us so many indisputable rights, we do not even care to be loyal to the same country. With this situation in India we find every individual asking and fighting for his/her rights and no one ever even thinking whether he/she has any duties. This has developed in India a very selfish and self oriented society where everyone expects his/her rights to be honoured and there is no thought about any duties whatsoever.
Let us think as to what can be done to retrieve this peculiar situation. The most practical action will be either take away all rights or, awaken all to their duties as much as the lessons of rights have been dinned into their heads. Indians have very conveniently been able to separate rights from duties, the two inseparables everywhere else in the world. This however cannot continue forever as, it creates chaos and inefficiency everywhere.
Now, when we are at the brink of collapse, it is high time that we give more emphasis to duties than to rights. I would wish that, like the Human Rights Commission, a Commission for Human Duties be formed. This new organization must keep a hawkish look on people performing their duties. This would go a long way in making things better. Just as the Rights Commission keeps an eye over people not getting their due rights the Duties Commission would follow any, people evading Duties – and punish the evaders.