Fundamental duties basically imply the moral obligations of all citizens of a country and today, there are about 11 fundamental duties in India, which are set out in Part IV-A of the Constitution to promote patriotism and strengthen the unity of India.
Originally, fundamental duties of India was not a part of the Indian Constitution, in fact, they were added by 42nd and 86th Constitutional Amendment Acts. The list of fundamental rights and duties and the Directive Principles of State Policy are sections of the Indian Constitution that elaborate on the essential obligations of the states to its citizens, along with the duties and the rights that they hold as Indian citizens and every right comes with an equal responsibility.
The fundamental duties of the citizen were not a part of the Constitution initially, but after India got independence, the Constitution-makers believed that there was a need to include certain duties of a citizen in India towards the country and each other. However, there have been many instances when a request has been made to amend these duties, which were drafted right after the country got freedom.
Just like all citizens have equal rights, they also have an equal fundamental duty to uphold others’ rights and make sure that they do not violate these rights. A person cannot expect to enjoy all the privileges and freedom under the law without performing their corresponding fundamental duties.
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Defining Fundamental Duties at Length
To tell you further about fundamental duties in the Indian Constitution, you should know that they were added in 1976, upon the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee that was constituted by Indira Gandhi, just after the declaration of national emergency, to study and amend the constitution.
This committee was under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh, India's longest-serving union cabinet minister and based on its recommendations, the government incorporated several changes to the Constitution including the Preamble, through the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India which included the fundamental duties of Indian Constitution.
However, by the 86th Amendment in 2002, the original 10 duties were then increased to 11, under Article 51A, Part IV-A of the Constitution of India. These 11 fundamental duties are as follows:
To oblige with the Indian Constitution and respect the National Anthem and Flag.
To cherish and follow the noble ideas that inspired the national struggle for freedom.
To protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India.
To defend the country and perform national services if and when the country requires.
To promote the spirit of harmony and brotherhood amongst all people of India and renounce any practices that are derogatory to women.
To cherish and preserve the rich national heritage of our composite culture.
To protect and improve the natural environment including lakes, wildlife, rivers, forests, etc.
To develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of enquiry.
To safeguard all public property.
To strive towards excellence in all genres of individual and collective activities.
The 11th fundamental duty which was added to this list is:
To provide opportunities of education to the children between 6-14 years of age, and parents to ensure that such opportunities are being awarded to their child.
The fundamental duties look at the crises in Indian society and become a tool for straightening out the crises. They serve as a source of protection of the liberty of the people.
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Need & Importance of Fundamental Duties
In case there is a violation of fundamental duties, Article 51A of the constitution categorizes it as contempt of the constitution which is punishable under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
Many people assume that constitutional duties are similar to the fundamental duties of the Indian citizen, but so is not the case. The Indian Constitution provides with a list of fundamental rights and duties to the citizens and lays down the State’s duties toward ensuring that these rights are protected and provided equally to everyone. This entirely is the definition of constitutional duties, in which the list of duties is just a part of it.
Thes duties were drafted on the lines of moral, ethical and culture code of conduct, which is to be followed by people. These duties of Indian citizen are there to educate you on how to behave in a virtuous and honorable manner.
The definition of fundamental duties is there because with growing concerns over the environment, social equality and religious disharmony, it is pertinent to have them in place, as it ensures cultural and social solidarity.
Since these fundamental duties of India are to be performed for maintaining a proper governance and enabling the proper functioning of a democratic society. It is indeed sad to see that these duties are either overlooked or many of the citizens don’t even know about them and are hence called “Fundamental” duties.
Following these duties acts as a reminder to the citizens, playing a vital role in upholding and protecting the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of our country.
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Reasons for Making Fundamental Duties Non-Enforceable
Practically speaking, it was a wise decision to make Fundamental Duties of Indian constitution non-enforceable, especially when the Directive Principle of State Policy in the Constitution, have been made non-enforceable as well.
In fact, there are important reasons for not making these duties enforceable.
With the majority of people being illiterate in India, many of them are unaware of their Constitutional obligations. In this scenario, if Fundamental duties would have been made enforceable, it would have resulted in causing chaos and harassment among people.
Also, implementing these elemental duties would have been tough, as the fundamental duties mentioned in Article 51A, lack proper explanation and by different people, these duties are liable to be interpreted in many different ways.
Moreover, the fundamental of duties enlisted is wholly dependent on the performance of the State and the Directive Principles of State Policy. If the State is unable to provide a proper climate, which elaborates well on the fundamental duties, then to follow these duties properly will pose a real problem.
These duties are not legally enforceable, which means that if someone violates your duties of a citizen as an Indian, then no legal action can be taken against him/her. Although these duties are non-enforceable but are important because:
These duties are a constant reminder to citizens to build a free, healthy, and responsible society and they are expected to not act as recklessly and not indulge in anti-social activities.
For growth of a democratic country like India, it is imperative that all fundamental duties are followed by the citizens for respecting the integrity and promotion of cultural harmony in the country.
These duties of a citizen in India provides education to children, especially to the children below 14 years of age safeguards the human rights and is a major step towards the abolition of social injustice which is prevalent in the society today.
Environmental pollution has become a great cause of concern, not only for Indians but for the entire humanity. Unless we all take the pledge to keep our environment free from pollutants, there remains the threat of undesirable consequences
Even though these duties are non-enforceable, but they are not merely the expression of morals or religions, the courts can take cognizance in the matter to enforce and give effect to these duties. Under Article 51A and as per the definition of fundamental duties, it’s the responsibility of the citizens to build a free and healthy society, where all citizens are treated equally.
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These Duties Give a responsibility to the Citizens As Well
There was a judgement by the Supreme Court which said, that if someone had genuine religious obligations, that can be placed above patriotism, then no one can force them to sing the National Anthem.
It is the citizen responsibility to realize that it is in their own interest to perform their duties and discharge their 134 legal and Constitutional obligations whole-heartedly because only by doing so individually they can help the growth of the Democratic Republic collectively.
Citizens are expected to behave in accordance with the ideal code of conduct parallel to fundamental duties and no legal action can be initiated for non-performance of fundamental duties.
The fundamental of duties cannot be strengthened unless all Indian citizens perform their duties individually and earnestly. After all, the collective sovereignty of the people of our country can only be established when each person understands that there is a citizen responsibility to follow and abide.
Although, there is a fact about fundamental duties, that you should know like, some of the duties clash with religious principles of some religious sects in our country.
Thus it can be said that in a democracy like India, citizenship involves not only freedom but also a responsibility. With the independence of India, dawned the “Ganatantra Raj”, which made each of us responsible for the happiness and welfare of our people.
However, it is a pity that in our society, where everyone is only selfish to look at their rights, forgets that a right you ask hails from fundamental duties. These fundamental duties need to remember before you exercise your rights and responsibilities as Indian citizens.
However, all fundamental duties under the Indian Constitution are non-enforceable and non-justiciable in nature. In simple words, a person cannot be punished by a court for violating any fundamental duties.