The Charter of Fundamental Duties and Nationalism

constitution of India 

I am a citizen of India. I consider it my duty to abide by the 11 Fundamental Duties that are laid down in Part IV-A, Article 51-A of the Constitution of India, because India is a constitutional democracy, where the Constitution of our nation is the supreme authority and we, the people of India, have given to ourselves this Constitution, thereby agreeing to abide by it. Let us go through this list of Fundamental Duties one by one:

  1. Abide by the Constitution and respect National Flag and National Anthem: I consider myself as a Constitution abiding citizen and have utmost respect for the National Flag and the National Anthem. I may staunchly believe that every time I go out to watch a movie in a cinema hall, it is not required that I be forced to display my respect for the National Anthem, yet I do it every time. This use of force and fear to put my love and respect for my nation on display, does-not in any manner impact the inherent feeling of respect or love I have for my nation, yet the use of force and fear continues.
  2. Follow ideals of the freedom struggle: The foremost ideal of the freedom struggle, to my mind would be to cherish and guard the freedom that the freedom fighters vehemently fought for. They had fought for the freedom from oppression, tyranny, poverty, greed, divisiveness and the ignorance that allowed a fistful of people to rule over such huge masses for almost 200 years. I realize how invaluable this freedom is. I cherish it with every breath that I take and consider it my utmost duty to fiercely guard it from all kinds of external and internal oppression and divisive attitudes. I consider it my constitutional duty to remain mindful of any overt and covert attempts that may be made by divisive forces to threaten this freedom.
  3. Protect sovereignty and integrity of India: I consider it my duty to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India – the land and its people. I consider it my duty to stand up for the dignity and honor of each and every Indian, to protect the wholeness and unity of this nation.
  4. Defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so: I consider it my duty to defend this nation from all divisive forces – external or internal. I consider it a service to my nation, and thus my foremost duty, to speak against injustice, inequality, oppression and attempts at creating and perpetrating divisiveness and ignorance.
  5. 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: I consider it my foremost duty to promote peace and harmony among all, irrespective of any kind of diversity in any form whatsoever.
  6. Value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture: The rich heritage of our composite culture has guided me to value the spirit of humanity above all else. I thus consider it my foremost duty to follow the ideal of humanity and make every attempt possible towards preserving this rich heritage of our composite culture.
  7. Protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures: Not only do I consider it my fundamental duty to my nation, to try and safeguard the environment to the best of my abilities, but also to the world community and the future generations whom we are responsible to.
  8. Develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of enquiry and reform: As a proud citizen of this nation, I consider it my first and foremost duty to never let my spirit of enquiry die. I consider it my duty to always be informed in my demeanor and make a conscious effort in developing my critical thinking and questioning abilities. I consider that it is my utmost duty to be able to think, analyze and question so that I can contribute towards the progress of this nation and its people. I also consider it as my duty to never forget the ideal of humanity and humanism towards not only the citizens of this nation, but also the world community.
  9. Safeguard public property and abjure violence: I consider it as my duty to never turn towards violence, be it physical, mental, emotional, or in any other form, as a solution to any situation, whatever be the provocation. I consider it my duty to never forget that violence can only beget violence and lead to nothing but destruction.
  10. Strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement: I consider it my duty to strive daily towards becoming a better version of myself, so that I am able to give my best to this nation.
  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 and fourteen years: As a parent, I consider it my utmost duty to ensure a good education for my child so that he turns out to be a responsible and humane individual.

As a responsible citizen of this nation, I strive daily to fulfill the constitutionally mandated fundamental duties towards my nation. This is what nationalism means to me – to love, to live, to unite, to spread peace and harmony, to empathize, to abjure violence, to enquire, to reform and to strive to become a better human being with every breath. Any other definition of nationalism is not only misleading but against the very fabric of the nation that it purports to define.

Nivedita Dwivedi is a political commentator.


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