Duties of Citizens in a Welfare State
“There are two principles of justice : not to harm anybody and serve the society’s welfare.”
—Marcus Tullius Cicero
The notion of welfare state should be clearly imprinted in our minds before we proceed to the subject of duties of a citizen. The welfare state originated in Germany during the nineteenth century with the policies implemented by German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarch.
It is a concept in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the social and economic well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of ‘equality of opportunity’ and ‘equitable distribution of wealth’. Sociologist T.H. Marshall described the modern welfare state as a distinctive combination of ‘democracy, welfare and capitalism’.
Even though welfare state works for amelioration of its citizens, it has been censured by various writers as they say.
“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.” —Thomas Sowell
It is said that welfare state is a state of elites. All the policies and programmes are framed keeping the bureaucracy in mind. But if we look at this facet reasonably it is discernible that the focal point of welfare state is blossoming of the society by an effective administration. The administrators in any state develop the society by implementing laws, rules and regulations to maintain discipline and efficiency.
Hence, various schemes have been implemented by the welfare countries all over the world. During the Second World War, Australia created a welfare state by enacting national schemes for : Child endowment in 1941; widows’ pension in 1942; wife’s allowance in 1943 and much more.
Today, in Germany the social protection of all its citizens is considered a central pillar of German national policy. It focuses on embracing the system of health, pension and long term care.
Modern welfare states include Germany, France, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Denmark, India, etc. Taking India into account, the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Part IV of Indian Constitution exhibit India to be a welfare state. Although Directive Principles of state policy are not enforceable by any court, they are declared to be fundamental in the governance of the country and the state has a duty to exert them in making laws.
In respect to this, certain initiatives are being taken by India to prove itself to be a welfare state as in a bid to overcome the gap between rich and poor, men and women and to remove casteism. For this seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women in government jobs, educational institutions and the Parliament. Numerous laws have been passed and the fundamental right to abolish untouchability has been provided.
Each citizen of a welfare state is endowed with definite duties to be fulfilled by him. Keeping this in mind Indian Parliament brought into force.
Article 51A encompassed in Part IVA of the Constitution of India which deals with the ‘fundamental duties’ of a citizen. These duties were added by forty-second (42nd) and eighty-sixth (86th) Constitutional Amendment Acts. As of now, there are eleven (11) Fundamental Duties which the citizens are obligated to perform.
The duties prescribed in this Article are to abide by the Constitution, national flag and national anthem; uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; defend the country; promote harmony and brotherhood; protect dignity of women; value and preserve rich heritage of our culture; safeguard public property, etc.
Rights and Duties
There exist two pillars in a welfare state. These are : Rights and Duties. Rights refer to the privileges or benefits provided by a nation to its citizens and duties are the moral and legal obligations that the citizens of a nation need to perform sincerely.
“We have lost the balance between rights and responsibilities. Today everyone talks about rights but no one thinks about duties. We are developing in a very strange way.” —Takeshi Kitano
Usually what happens is that people tend to forget their duties for their rights. Everyone’s acquisitiveness to obtain privileges is more than responsibility towards the nation. Nobody wants to perform duties but everybody craves to avail rights. Hence, the fore-most duty of a citizen is :
“to perform his duty.”
Protection of Women’s Rights
On December 16, 2012, an innocent twenty three year old girl was brutally gang raped in Delhi which led to her death. The case was so coarse that it was included in the ‘rarest of the rare cases’ category. It further came to be known as the ‘Nirbhaya Case’.
Each day when I go through the newspaper, the first topic that catches my sight is ‘Crime’. Crime, be it in the form of theft, acid-attack, rape, murder and the list is endless. So being a citizen of a welfare state it is the duty of every person to curb this away by promoting humanity and maintaining law and order in the nation. We must protect women and stop such heinous crimes against them. The criminals should be put on trial and the designated authority should take stringent actions against them so that thousands of Nirbhaya’s could get justice.
Humanity and Justice
“Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity.”
We exist in a society in which humanity and harmony should be maintained. One of the main prospects for maintenance of humanity is justice. It is a myth that justice is safeguarded by laws. In fact the truth is, the more laws we formulated, the less justice we gain.
Justice is the conscience of humanity. It is not only the duty of the judges to abide by the laws and give fair judgements, rather the normal citizens of a welfare state should also be just in their actions. Endless laws can be brought into effect but they will be of no use until and unless people follow them in their daily course of action.
“What we are doing to the forests of the would is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
In the Indian Constitution it is clearly stated that it is the duty of the state ‘to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country’. Hence, flora and fauna should be protected and conserved.
Environment Protection Act came into force in 1986 soon after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Some landmark cases have raised the issue of environment protection more significantly.
- M.C. Mehta Vs. Union of India (Groundwater Case, 1987)
- Massachusetts Vs. Environmental Protection Agency, USA (2007)
To promote the care of the environment, World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5.
‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ initiated by Honourable Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi acts as a stepping stone towards the advancement of the nation. The Abhiyaan was launched on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th birth anniversary. It is executed to fulfill the dream of a ‘Clean India’ once seen by Bapu. The programme addresses the health problems that Indian families have to deal with due to lack of proper sanitation in their homes.
Being a part of this, it is the duty of the citizens to cooperate with the government and make aware every-one of it so that cleanliness and hygiene could be preserved which could further lead to reduction in health problems.
Protecting Heritage Sites
According to a statistical data published in July 2016, there are 1052 world heritage sites officially reorgnised by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO).
Italy, has the greatest, 51 world heritage sites followed by China, Spain, France, Germany, India and Mexico. As responsible citizens of a welfare state, it is our duty and responsibility to protect these sites, keep them unblemished and even make other citizens aware and the youth of its worth.
Duties Towards the Nation
In today’s scenario the threats such as terrorism, cyber attack, nuclear bomb attacks, etc. have gained much momentum. The defence department of every nation is sincerely devoted towards safe-guarding the unity and integrity of a nation. To promote patriotism amongst the residents, movies have also been made in Bollywood as well as Hollywood, so that people come to know about the struggle done by the security personnel at the borders. One such movie produced by Bollywood was ‘Border’, released in 1997 based on real life events that took place at the Battle of Longewala fought in Rajasthan during the ‘Indo-Pakistani War’ of 1971 and ‘Bangladeshi liberation war’.
Another notable movie released in 2002 in Hollywood was ‘We Were Soldiers’, based on the story of first battle between United States and Vietnam forces. Such inspiring movies are created so that the citizens understand the importance to protect sovereignty of the nation. Therefore we should abide by our Constitution and respect national flag and national anthem.
“Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.”
It is a matter of regret that most of the people are unaware of their duties towards their nation. Every person in a welfare state has to perform certain duties which leads to the betterment of their nation but we have a tendency to ignore our onus and fight for our rights. So let’s make a promise to ourselves that being a citizen of a welfare state we will contribute cent percent to the nation’s welfare.
Hence, it was said by Swami Vivekanand that ‘Every duty is holy and devotion to duty is the highest form of worship of God.”