Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Republic Day Week Special: A recap of our fundamental duties -2

This is in continuation from the last post I made on the fundamental duties in the Indian constitution. I have set the background of the post with a few quotes of the Gita describing acts of renounciation, which is very essential for us to achieve our duties. While that is to be discussed in a succeding post, we still have to make a record of our other duties, apart from the three discussed previously.

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

If we look at national service narrowly in terms of militarily aiding the nation in times of war, I have no doubt we still have many nationalist minded people who are willing to selfless come to the succor of our nation. But when will people start aiding the government in public service projects? When are we even going to start paying taxes lawfully? (Check this article out for more info). Isn't that also a form a national service? Thus, much needs to be done in the real meaning of 'national service'.

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.

Apart from sporadic incidents of violence, (although, casualties are indeed large) we should say that there is ample religious, linguistic and regional unity. Few cogs are still rusty though. It remains to be seen if we can stop the rot in time or not. Women too are far well treated these days as compared to some nations.

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

Of all the duties, these has been taken the least seriously. The fad for globalization that has spread across the Indian youth has given a serious beating to our culture. Take a simple example of clothing. Just a couple of generations ago, Indian men and women were wearing traditional dresses. Now, even the poorest of the poor have switched to wearing shirts and pants.

Yet there are some good efforts made in this regard. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activities in this regard are one example. For one, check out their mission statement. Also consider their social activity, this time from a more creditable site that most of you would agree with. That of course would be but a small list of the institution's achievements.

7. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.

Last heard, tiger population in India was dwindling and has reached a mere 1411. We have mixed results for the lion (link) whose population now stands at 359 while in 1907 it was a mere 13. That was when the Nawab of Junagadh stepped in to protect the lion. A rare case of a royal caring for wildlife. As far as people's movements in terms of natural environment are concerned, the Chipko movement comes to mind (a good link on the history of the movement). Yet, much more needs to be done for the cleanliness of our rivers. Perhaps revival of our ancient ethics wherein we regarded all elements of nature as holy is the order of the day over here.

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

This has been developed to a certain extent. In post independence India, much progress in space and nuclear field has been made, thanks to scientists Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. Homi Bhabha respectively. The green revolution in India is another scientific achievement, and the victory of ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) is a legend. And so was the white revolution in India important for generating milk sufficiency. The flourishing of the spirit of inquiry and reform would be evident from the growing number of engineering and college students in India. It is but normal to assume that with college education spreading, there is a greater chance of this spirit being established in India on a larger scale.

But this has come at a cost about us missing out on rediscovering whatever scientific progress was made in ancient India. Sanskrit education has not been patronised to understand the scriptures, and we have not picked up from where we last departed from science in our scriptures. Our ancestors might have done this only after heavy aggressions from our North-West. We have to pick the stones up again and build the fort afresh. We need to apply our 'scientific temper' in this field.

9. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.

Public property has been in a state of disrepair since quite some time. Venture out in the world and you will see what is the status of the same abroad. We should feel bad that anything with the epithet of 'public' in India has got an unclean image among Indians. From bus stops, to train stops, lack of hygiene is appalling. In this field, the work of Sulabh Sauchalaya requires special mention. We must start considering hygiene first in the reorganising of our public properties, for it seems it is viewed as a measure of comfort and not as a measure of promoting health.

Other things too need to be considered for public property. Protection from acts of rioting, terrorism, etc. would in turn partly solve the second part of this duty.

10. 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.

When it comes to striving in excellence in individual activity, we second none. But a lot has to be done in terms of striving towards achieving collective activity. Team spirit lags in India, which could be a reason why fields like Indian sports are stagnating. On the other hand, individual sports like chess, badminton, tennis, golf, etc. have done much better in comparison to team sports in India.

On the whole, while there are some good stories that are worth mentioning, we still need to do a lot to realise our fundamental duties. I sign off this post right now and will return another time, most likely before the 26th of Jan with a few suggestions on how to reform India.

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