Rights beget empowerment for citizens. They enable them to participate in public affairs and to lead a life of dignity. Rights are also the bedrock of the citizens' legitimate entitlements from the State, their freedom and personhood. Every great nation is defined by the rights of their citizens. In most modern liberal democracies, citizens are meant to be sovereign, equal before the law, and morally autonomous beings, free to pursue their enlightened self-interest.

However, it is equally true that citizenship comes not only with Fundamental Rights but also with Fundamental Duties. After all great power comes with great responsibility. Those who make demands on the system for their Fundamental Rights must give back to the system by fulfilling their responsibilities as citizens. These duties should not be taken lightly, for they are just as important to our national identity as our Fundamental Rights. The notion of Fundamental Duties does not run counter to our freedoms, but rather the two occur in harmony, for a country is run for its citizen and by its citizens, and as citizens we cannot simply take without giving back.

It is perhaps in this spirit that Article 51(a) of the Constitution of India enlists the Fundamental Duties that cast upon the citizens a moral obligation to:

  1. To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideas and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;

  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;

  3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;

  4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;

  5. To promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities, to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;

  6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;

  7. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, river, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;

  8. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform;

  9. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;

  10. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activities so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement;

  11. To provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between age of 6 and 14 years;

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          [ 48 ]

Printed & published by Vipul Mudgal on behalf of Common Cause, 5 Institutional Area, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi 110070, Printed at Gaylord Printers, F-128/2 Mohammadpur, RK Puram, New Delhi 110066, Editor-Vipul Mudgal Tel No. 26131313, 45152796, email:, website:

Volume: Vol. XXXV No. 1
January-March, 2016