The Constant Changes of Reality
What do you think Fundamental Duties are? What comes to your mind the minute you hear about it? Added in the 42nd Amendment in 1976, the 11 fundamental duties are one of the three pillars of the Indian Constitution along with Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy. Every citizen of India is bound to these fundamental duties, violation upon which every citizen (including the President, Vice President, Members of Parliament etc) are in contempt of the constitution under the Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act, 1971. The 11 Fundamental Duties mostly encase the duties of each citizen of the country as a way of giving back to the nation. It is as if a contract, which binds the government and the citizens. While the government must ensure Fundamental Rights to its citizens, the citizens give back to the nation by fulfilling their Fundamental Duties. The first 10 duties talk about preserving the idea of the Indian nation as well as respecting the boundaries of the Indian State and rendering service to the nation whenever called upon. The 11th duty which was added in the 86th Amendment Act 2002 ensured that all parents educate their childrens aged between six to fourteen compulsorily. While many are led to believe that Fundamental Duties are not enforced by writs, which is true; it uses something much more complex to compel its citizens to follow these duties. I would like to clear my stance on this complex issue by stating that Fundamental Duties are enforced by the use of nostalgia as well many key elements of nationalism. We already know Benedict Anderson’s argument about how a nation is not a natural entity but rather more of a cultural construct by humans themselves following repetitive patterns since time immemorial. Similarly, when we study each Fundamental Duty closely they appear as commands, for example and as directly quoted from the constitution, “Abide by the Indian Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem”. This very simple sentence holds a directive which slightly pushes the people towards having a certain mindset. Similarly another quote from the constitution which reads “Strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement” again comes out as a command which is meant to be followed. Indeed we can see how this creates a narrative and directs the Indian mindset towards certain actions. Psychologist and Marxist author Jacques Lacan talks about how such ideologies create a status of Ideological State Apparatus ( a concept given by Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser) which binds us to certain facts of life as if they were the constituted reality. For an average Indian under the allure of ideology will follow these Fundamental Duties whether consciously or unconsciously, for example standing up for the national anthem before the movie plays in the hall. On the other hand it also creates a millennial population of self proclaimed left - liberals who believe that it is okay not to respect our national symbols and cultural icons. This creates a group of people seperate from the government agenda of fulfilling Fundamental Duties yet continued to be bound by the contract of Fundamental Rights. It is a complex derivative to understand the psychological growth of such mindsets and mentalities. Some take this to the extreme ends so as to beat up people they believe are not following the model of India they are accustomed to, example again being not standing up for the national anthem and getting beaten up by mobs. Fundamental Duties came out as a result of lack of unity which would keep the country and its citizens together. It Was introduced in 1976 during Indira Gandhi’s infamous Emergency to ensure that there were no secessionist movements in the country. India at that time was the hotbed of internal conflicts ranging from the Naxalites of Bengal to the Khalistani effort in Punjab which would only grow in the 80s along with the Kashmiri and North Eastern Independence struggle. At a time where ‘unity in diversity’ was under great doubt and question, this seemed to be the only way to prevent the country from fragmenting any further. I as an individual citizen of India recognize the need for Fundamental Duties and the purpose they serve. A country without its people is no country at all. The country is made by its citizens as well as the structure of the government governing it. Our Fundamental Duties remind us what it means to be Indian and how much is at stake, much larger than us at a national and international level. We do not need writs to enforce Fundamental Duties but rather a mentality to fulfil it regardless the ideological allure it presents.