REPUBLIC DAY INDIA

Here’s wishing my fellow Indians a Happy Republic Day, arguably the most important day in the country’s modern history, because on that day, we, the people of India, gave to ourselves the Constitution of a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic Republic.

In my post last year I had looked at the Fundamental Rights of Indian Citizens enshrined in the Constitution, so why not even the books with a look at our Fundamental Duties, this year? As these fundamental duties cannot be enforced by writs, and can only be promoted by constitutional methods, they do not make the news as often as a high profile case on the violation of Fundamental Rights.

Nonetheless, our Fundamental Duties define the very essence of Indianness  and the essential oneness and inclusion of a vastly diverse society such as ours.

A gentle reminder:

It shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

  • To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
  • To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
  • To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
  • To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
  • 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;
  • To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
  • To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
  • To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
  • To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.”

And which were the values that drove our Independence struggle and our subsequent endeavours at nation-building? Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity as so poetically enunciated in the Preamble to the Constitution…

So in this election season, let citizens evaluate their candidates based on their commitment to these values and their efforts at ensuring sustainable, equitable, inclusive and just development for all Indians, so that the map of India can never be so cruelly used to depict its inequalities as this:

indian-disparities

 

Jai Hind!

Happy Republic Day India – yet again…

Happy Republic Day India. Remember it not as yet another opportunity for Amazon and Flipkart to slash their prices, but as the day when ‘We the People’ defined our very humanity and quintessential Indianness – by giving ourselves a sublimely inclusive Constitution.

Exactly a year ago, I had explored just how far we had strayed from the spirit of the Preamble to the Constitution. This year I would like to remind Indians of their Fundamental Rights, which need to be fought over, cherished and nurtured, lest we lose them forever.

The Right to Equality is one of the chief guarantees of the Constitution. It is embodied in Articles 14–16, which collectively encompass the general principles of equality before law and non-discrimination, and Articles 17–18 which collectively further the philosophy of social equality. And yet, inequality in India has never been higher as these figures from the World Economic Forum indicate:

GINI COEFFICIENT FROM WEF DATA

(Gini Coefficient as percentage, an indicator of income inequality. The higher it is, the greater the inequality)

Right to Freedom: Article 19 guarantees six freedoms in the nature of civil rights, which are available only to citizens of India. These include the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly without arms, freedom of association, freedom of movement throughout the territory of India, freedom to reside and settle in any part of the country of India and the freedom to practise any profession. And yet, Indians from one part of the country continue to be branded as outsiders in other parts of their own motherland…

The Right against Exploitation, contained in Articles 23–24, lays down certain provisions to prevent exploitation of the weaker sections of the society by individuals or the State. Article 23 provides prohibits human trafficking, making it an offence punishable by law, and also prohibits forced labour or any act of compelling a person to work without wages where he was legally entitled not to work or to receive remuneration for it. Yet again, per WEF figures, India lags far behind when it comes to curbing forced and child labour, and providing productive work and adequate compensation to its people:

EMPLOYMENT AND WAGE INDICATORS FROM WEF DATA

(Performance rated on a scale of 1-7, with India doing marginally better than only Pakistan)

The Right to Freedom of Religion, covered in Articles 25–28, provides religious freedom to all citizens and ensures a secular state in India. According to the Constitution, there is no official State religion, and the State is required to treat all religions impartially and neutrally. Article 25 guarantees all persons the freedom of conscience and the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice. How sorry then to find that the Government’s own National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) gives us a League Table of the worst communal incidents in Indian States and the death toll in such incidents for 2014-15:

COMMUNAL RIOTS 2014-15 FROM NRCB

The Cultural and Educational Rights, given in Articles 29 and 30, are measures to protect the rights of cultural, linguistic and religious minorities, by enabling them to conserve their heritage and protecting them against discrimination. The jury is still out on a number of such cultural practices considered inhuman or inhumane, while cultural issues continue to be politicised by all concerned – whether it is jallikattu or the beef ban.

So, on this day, let us all reinforce our faith in the Constitution as we “… continue to complain; to demand; to rebel…” as urged by the President of India in his speech today.

Jai Hind!