To become empowered, we must train our youth in the Constitution | analysis | Hindustan Times
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To become empowered, we must train our youth in the Constitution

We must train our young minds to become familiar with the Constitution and imbibe its spirit.

analysis Updated: Dec 29, 2015 01:02 IST
For us to be truly empowered we must educate our youth in the ways of the Constitution and make them familiar with its principles.
For us to be truly empowered we must educate our youth in the ways of the Constitution and make them familiar with its principles.(HT File Photo)

‘We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India…’ words so powerful that if only we understand its intended meaning, it would pave the way for the empowerment of each one of us. Freedom we attained 68 years ago but empowerment will continue to elude us unless we make an honest effort to understand the ideals and spirit of our freedom movement that culminated in the production of a finest non-religious, yet sacred book: The Constitution of India.

Our founding fathers not only secured us freedom but toiled for three long years in the Constituent Assembly and after prolonged deliberations gave us our Constitution, which not only ensures individual rights but also clearly laid down the principles to build a prosperous India, free of inequity and exploitation.

The biggest disservice that we have done and continue to do so is to pay scant regard to the spirit of the Constitution. This neglectful attitude has produced various problems, especially the sectarian tendency to demand privileges while denying the same to others. If we continue to ignore the wisdom propounded in the Constitution, it would lead us to moral bankruptcy and spiritual paucity.

Our Constitution not only spells out the duties of various organs of the State and basic rights of the citizens, but also charges the citizens with certain duties. The failure on our part would be a moral and spiritual setback.

The Preamble gives a fair idea of what behaviour and conduct is expected of us, the citizens. It was further reinforced by the incorporation of a list of fundamental duties in the Constitution in 1976.

Now we may ask ourselves if our conduct is in conformity with these fundamental duties. The day we can honestly say yes, most of the problems that confront us in the conduct of our national life would disappear and our interests would integrate with the State. In fact, in a landmark judgment the Supreme Court has observed: ‘State is all the citizens placed together and hence though Article 51-A does not expressly cast any fundamental duty on the State, the fact remains that the duty of every citizen of India is the collective duty of the State.’

As citizens we can show our commitment to the Constitution by conscientiously doing our duties and that alone is the most effective instrument to protect our liberty. Today our behaviours are more influenced by the legacy of the colonial rule rather than the spirit of the Constitution. That explains why we are still obsessed with our denominational and social identities, and the focus of political discourse takes no cognisance of the citizen.

We, however, need not despair. We are an old civilisation but a young nation who has laboured under colonial rule for centuries. During this period we developed certain attitudes that do not agree with the letter and spirit of our Constitution. The best method to get rid of that colonial hang up is to train our young minds to become familiar with the Constitution and imbible its spirit.

(Mustafa Arif is an advocate. The views expressed are personal)