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Written by: Anushka Patil

The fundamental duties are basically moral duties of Indian citizens towards their country. There are 11 fundamental duties mentioned in part IV-A of the Constitution, which are incorporated in the constitution to strengthen the unity of India.

Originally, the fundamental duties were not a part of the Constitution. They were added later on in the 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 which explains the obligations of the citizens to the country, also explaining duties and rights as an Indian citizen.

All the citizens are provided with equal fundamental rights, but they also have fundamental duty which they have to uphold regarding other rights (cited under Article 21). The citizens are expected to enjoy the privileges of fundamental rights whilst performing their fundamental duties.

The fundamental duties and its meaning

The 11 fundamental duties are as follows:

  1. To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem (It is to oblige and to respect the National Anthem and the national Flag.);

  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom (It is to cherish and to follow the noble ideas that inspired the national struggle for freedom.);

  3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India (It is to protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India.);

  4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so (It is to defend the country and perform national services for the nation.);

  5. 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 (It is to promote harmony and brotherhood amongst the citizens of India.);

  6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture (It is to cherish and preserve the rich heritage and composite culture of the nation.);

  7. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures (It is to protect and improve the natural environment such as wild life, flora, fauna, water bodies etc.);

  8. To develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform (It is to develop modest and open-minded temper, to develop an attitude of logical, rational, and scientific thinking.);

  9. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence (It is to preserve and maintain the public property.);

  10. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement (It is to aim for excellence in vivid genres.);

  11. Who is a parent or guardian, to provide opportunities for education to his child, or as the case may be, ward between the age of six to fourteen years (It is to provide opportunities of education to children especially between 6-14 years of age, it is a legal duty of parents to ensure that opportunities of education are provided to their ward.)

The outset and evolution of the Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution emerged in the year 1946 when the first meeting of the constituent assembly was held post-independence. The constituent assembly involved of Dr. Rajendra Prasad appointed as its president. An elaborate idea explaining the constitutional supremacy was required leading to further requirement of a physical representation of the same. Hence a drafting committee was appointed on 29th august 1947, for which Dr. BR Ambedkar was elected as the Chairman for the Drafting Committee to achieve a permanent and a well-organized constitution. The focus of this committee was on the Republican State, Parliamentary Supremacy, an independent Judicial System, Fundamental Rights, and a Federal System.

On 4th November 1947, the drafting committee submitted its initial draft. while the final draft was submitted on 26th November 1949. A draft of the constitution was submitted by the Drafting committee on 24th January 1950, which was brought into action on 26th January 1950.

The Constitution of India is regarded as one of the longest constitutions, it took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to complete which consisted of a Preamble, 25 Parts along with 12 Schedules, 448 Articles and 101 Amendments thus far. The formulation of the Indian Constitution has gained the inspiration from the constitutions of various countries. Whereas the Fundamental Duties were added in 1976, the fundamental duties were originally not a part of the constitution, but upon recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee, constituted by Indira Gandhi, the idea of fundamental duties was taken in consideration.

This committee was under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh, who was India's longest-serving union cabinet minister. Considering his recommendations, the government incorporated several changes to the Constitution including the Preamble.

However, 1 more duty was incorporated by the 86th Amendment in 2002 resulting in a total of 11 fundamental duties, mentioned under Article 51A, Part IV-A of the Constitution of India.

Why fundamental duties are non-enforceable

It seems like a good decision to make the fundamental duties non-enforceable, as the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution, are made non-enforceable as well. As a matter of fact, the reason for not making these duties enforceable is because many citizens due to lack of literacy are unaware of their Constitutional obligations. In such a situation the better option is to keep the fundamental duties non enforceable. if done otherwise, it would most likely result in causing chaos and harassment among people. Besides, implementing these essential duties would have been tough, because of the Fundamental Duties mentioned in the Article 51A, seems to lack proper explanation and hence it could be interpreted in many different ways by different people. additionally, the fundamental duties enlisted are entirely dependent on the performance of the State and the Directive Principle of State Policy. Moreover, If the State is unable to provide a proper climate that can elaborates on the fundamental duties, then to follow the fundamental duties in the correct manner can pose to be a real problem. These duties are not legally enforceable, which means that if a citizen of India violates any of them, no legal action can be taken against that individual. Although these duties are non-enforceable, they still hold great importance. As these duties serve a constant reminder to citizens of India to build a liberal, healthy, and responsible society whilst not behaving impetuously or indulge in any anti-social activities, which could pose as potential threat to the society.

The 11 fundamental duties are not merely the expression of morals or religion, as the courts can take cognizance in the matter to enforce and give effect to these constitutional obligations. Under Article 51A and as per the definition of fundamental duties, it is the responsibility of the citizens to build a free and healthy society, where all citizens are treated equally.

Why fundamental duties are important

Fundamental duties are important because In case there is a violation of the fundamental duties, the said person can be punished under Article 51A of the Constitution categorizes it as disregard towards the constitution considered as a punishable offence under the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act, 1971.

The Indian Constitution provides a list of fundamental rights as well as duties to its citizens. It also prescribes the State’s duties toward ensuring these rights are protected and provided equally to everyone. These duties are drafted on the lines of moral, ethical, and cultural code of conduct which is to be followed by the citizens to protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of the country as it also helps the government in maintaining proper governance and enabling the proper functioning of a democratic society.

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