Thursday, February 08, 2018

Time for Additional Fundamental Duties?

By Ispita Mishra*
Fundamental duties are moral and civic duties which are confined only to the citizens and not to the foreigners. They essentially contain codification of principles that are essential to the Indian way of life and are not justifiable like the Directive Principles of State Policy. They act as warning against the anti-national activities and are enforceable by law. Fundamental Duties were added by the Swaran Singh Committee as it emphasized that the citizens should also perform certain duties along with enjoying the rights. The need was felt during the internal emergency. Article 51A hence specified a code of 10 fundamental duties under 42nd Constitutional Amendment.
However, the Fundamental Duties are not without criticism that needs to be emphasized upon.
Firstly, they are superfluous and ambiguous. Terms like ‘scientific temper’, ‘composite culture’ etc mentioned in the fundamental duties are difficult to be comprehended by common man.
Secondly, they should have been added right after the fundamental rights. Adding them after Directive Principles of State Policy has reduced their weightage.
Thirdly, they are code of moral percepts because they are non justiciable in nature and this is taken as a defense.
Fourthly, Many important duties like paying tax etc are not found in the list of 10 Fundamental Duties.
Fifthly, in words of A.K Sen, willingness and cooperation of people are essential rather than thrusting fundamental duties like a school master asking the student to stand on the bench on not doing his homework.
The time has come when additional fundamental duties should be added to the exhaustive list of 10 Fundamental Duties.
Right to pay tax should be made a fundamental duty. It was initially recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee, however it was rejected.
Right to vote should also be added. Today, many youth who are the future of democracy do not vote because they migrate outside for employment and educational facilities and this right as a fundamental duty would imbibe a sense of responsibility to vote in every Indian Citizen.
Right to protect accident victims should also be added as a Fundamental Duty. Good Samaritan Law started by the Karnataka government is a good example where the people who rescue and help the road accident victims are incentivised according to the Law. This would save a lot of lives which are lost due to road accidents.
Right to protect the whistleblowers should be there too.  The Whistleblower Protection Act providing protection to the whistleblowers for disclosing corruption cases by protecting him/her is essential in a corrupt society of today. This would send a message that such acts of nepotism and corruption won’t be tolerated in democratic and civil country like India which aspires to become corruption free.
Rising voice against any form of injustice like domestic violence, child marriage etc would also make one an aware citizen.
Keeping the surrounding clean would help in achieving the Swacch Bharat mission of the government and Gandhiji’s ideology of cleanliness is next to godliness. This would help maintain hygiene, sanitation and diseases would be prevented.
In the garb of politics, activism has become strong in educational institutes. More of academics than activism should be encouraged. However, bonafide civil society movements should be supported if they are included in the list of fundamental duties. This can help in making a vibrant and participative democracy like India even stronger.
It is very important that fundamental duties should be included in syllabus of school so that they are well aware of these duties in their formative years which would help them in grooming up to be a responsible citizen of India. Adding these fundamental duties, would make the citizens conscious of their duties that they owe to the country. It is not fair that they enjoy rights and do not do their duties as both rights and duties go hand in hand.
Ispita Mishra is Research Assistant at Centre for Public Policy Research. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR