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Rights and duties play an important role in the development of a nation. Rights on one hand give every individual an opportunity to be a part of development process while duties on the other hand make an individual obliged to play a part in the development. As a citizen of a democratic country we all are privileged to have some fundamental rights. But, apart from these rights we also have fundamental duties which we rarely talk about. Being a responsible citizenship is not just about enjoying the fundamental rights and performing the fundamental duties mentioned in our constitution, but it is about going beyond those duties.

We always harp on our rights wherever we can and neglect the duties we generally should perform. As a citizen of our country we enjoy the rights of a privileged citizen and often we complain of the government’s inability to provide services. Similarly, as a student in an institute we complain about the inadequacies of the system. But when it comes to our duty towards the institute or the nation, most of the times we behave ignorant. For instance as a responsible citizen, we have the duty of protecting public properties, which we do not hesitate to destroy while protesting or demanding our rights. Destroying street lamps, burning tyres and vehicles, disrupting traffic are the common scenes which are seen at protest sites. Do we really need to do this? Have we ever realized the losses we cause to our country in this manner? Do we ponder for a moment and think how much effort it takes to build those structures?

As countrymen we also have a duty to be patriotic towards the country and be humanitarian towards our fellow countrymen. We also have a social responsibility as a good citizen. But do we perform all these duties? The answer is either a clear No, or partial Yes. We expect the government to do everything, without us contributing anything. Most of the unpaid electricity and telephone bills even by people who can well afford to pay those few bucks are a bit astonishing. All the time we hear that we must know about our rights but never, yes never do we hear that we must perform our duties only then, we get our rights. We Indians have become too much rights oriented, and we fail to remember that, all those rights could be having duties with them. For instance, in a family all children seem to know that, whatever is in the house belongs to them and they have the rights to claim their share. Do they ever also realize that they have some duties towards their parents, their grandparents and the home, or anyone else at home? They never think of this aspect of their rights.

Our attitude to the society is no better. We all expect the society to help us when we need help but, do we ever think that we also owe something to the same society? When the country gives us so many indisputable rights, we do not even care to be loyal to the same country. This situation in India has led to a selfish and self-oriented society.

Everyone has a duty to be a responsible citizen. But unfortunately, not everyone takes this responsibility seriously. There are plenty of people the world over who do not know what being a responsible citizen means and they are the people who destroy our communities. For being a responsible citizen results in a happy and harmonious community – if everyone else does the same.

Being a responsible citizen covers many areas – some are legal obligations, some social and some moral. Being a responsible citizen is not as easy as staying within the law. In fact, to be a truly responsible citizen, we sometimes must go out of our way to do things which help our society – give a little of our time and effort for the greater good.

We have ‘Legal Obligations’

No one can be a responsible citizen without staying within the law. It is as simple as that.  Laws exist to protect citizens, the communities they live in and their property. We must respect these laws and abide by them. Harming others or others’ property does not equate to being a good citizen.

We have Social Obligations

Social obligations really form the bulk of being a responsible citizen and what this means is – to be a responsible citizen, we should help the people in the society we live in. It can include things such as helping local businesses. This may mean buying the veggies for Sunday lunch from a local vendor rather than a supermarket.

We have Moral Obligations

Different people have different moral codes. But one place we can all start with is – helping the environment. The environmental problems we are facing are of our own making and we all have a moral obligation to do what we can to change this. So we can try to live as environmentally friendly life as possible. Taking recyclables to be recycled and using a compost bin are two easy ways and there are many more.

Being responsible does not mean you have to sacrifice all your free time to volunteer or help others, but it does means taking a little time to think about the impact of your actions on others.

According to a recent survey majority of the Indian youth especially those living in cities don’t go for voting. They prefer going to cinema or watching television, instead of going to polling booths. This is certainly not going to change the scenario. If we really want the tradition to change we have to participate in the elections or at least we have to make sure the person we are choosing as our representative should be a person of goodwill and a person having an intension to work for the society and for the country.

We must respect our National Emblems

Modern era is the era of cut throat competition, an era of hectic schedule, a lifestyle of burgers and pizzas and discos. The young India is lost somewhere in this euphoric illusion. People hardly remember the martyrs. The Independence or Republic day are looked upon as holidays. Many don’t even bother to stand up in respect of our national anthem. Our national tricolour seems to have reduced its impact over our pride. We boastfully talk about patriotism but when it comes to exhibiting it, we deliver a little. Our attitude comes in between!!! It is time to respect the national heritage, the culture of our country and more importantly respecting the people of India.

Duty towards Cleanliness/Showing the Right Attitude

We always cry about the prevailing sanitation problems in our cities. The piles of garbage around our houses and for this we doom the municipality. Do we ever think about the way we behave in our daily life? Do we ever evaluate our attitude? Most of us have the habit of spitting on road while walking, putting garbage on roads instead of dustbins, we spit on the platforms, in the corners of our classrooms, we don’t look for a dustbin after having a coffee or after having a chocolate, we scribble on our benches in our classrooms, we make ourselves immortal by writing on our ancient monuments and finally making them dirty and ugly. We go to our holy pilgrimages with an immense sense of respect and make the place dirty with our blind ignorance!!

The solution is that we should always try to change our habit in a positive way. Instead of waiting for the municipality to work we should take the responsibility to make our neighborhoods clean. It’s all about changing our attitude. So what if the municipality is not working properly, it’s our neighborhood and finally it’s our responsibility. If we become sincere about our duty everything will be fine. A famous quote goes like this.

You improve, the world will get improved

So if we want this world around us to improve, if we want the system to be perfect and smooth we have to take responsibility.

We must Follow Traffic Rules

One of the common instances in our daily life we see or we do as well is that not following the traffic rules. We don’t stop for the red lights and when we are caught we try to settle it down by bribing the policeman. We need to respect the signals. If one starts before the green signal, others will automatically follow him, saying “no one is following the rules”. Why can’t we be the one to follow it?

We complain that the traffic police always ask for bribe, why do we allow ourselves to be caught in such a scenario (Exceptions apart)? Few easy things that one can follow

  • Stop for Red signal
  • Start only when Green signal is on
  • Using seat belts while driving
  • Parking our cars only in the designated area
  • Not overtaking on bridges or wherever it is mentioned not to.
  • Wear a helmet when we drive a two wheeler.
  • Don’t use mobile phone while driving
  • Don’t drink and drive(so that you save your life and other’s life as well)
  • Avoid overloading or riding three persons on bikes

Our duty towards Respecting Values

The one thing every Indian is proud of is Indian culture, Indian values. We boastfully talk about the culture of sacrifice and forgiveness, respecting elders, honesty and truth, non violence etc. we proudly talk about our ethics but sadly gone are the days. We no more respect our so called Indian heritage of honesty and truth and these are being derided in this culture of I phones and 5g technology 

Cut out Corruption at its birth:

We might have at some part of time or other complained of corruption all around and talked in great detail. But in reality do we really fight against this evil in society. Mostly the politicians are blamed for corruption and using unfair advantage of their position. But it is not just the politicians the evil is rooted deeper in the society. A tree cannot nurture without the roots and the roots of this corruption are we the common man. Firstly, we are allowing it to grow. As Edmund Burke says- “For evil to flourish, good people have to do nothing and evil shall flourish.” Secondly we are ourselves involved in corruption to get an unfair advantage or as a shortcut to our path. For instance, when we are caught for first time in a traffic violation we offer the police person on duty a lesser amount in lieu of a greater official fine according to traffic rules. As responsible citizens, do we not have the right to fight against and root out corruption? If these politicians are blamed are we not responsible for their election? The question then arises why we elect such people. May be we are not interested in nation building or we might be looking for our narrow minded goals or short term advantages. The leaders if not responsible will lead to failure of the team as whole. So why not be good leaders and enter politics and make a difference in the society? Why not show the way to others

Rights and Duties are like to two sides of a coin, absolutely inseparable. Whenever and wherever we have any rights, we must have corresponding duties. Whether it be the home, the society or the country, in every sphere of life we have rights and duties that go hand in hand. We have rights in the same measure as we have duties. Let us be very clear that there can be no rights without an equal measure of corresponding duties or responsibilities. Change has to happen but might take some time and we have to wait for it. Change in a nation’s culture is a continuous process, it will happen over a period of time and it will take a consistent effort on the part of us individuals. But the change must happen right now!