As public participation gains significance in the fight against coronavirus, the Centre on Friday asked the NCERT and state governments to include chapters on citizens’ duties in school books. Union Secretary, Department of Justice, Barun Mitra said the government has prepared course modules on citizens’ duties as detailed in the Constitution, after some states sent their inputs on the subject.
"We have requested the NCERT as well as state governments to include chapters in Civics and Political Science books with special emphasis and focus on citizens' duties. The legal affairs department has prepared course modules on the subject," he said at a webinar on ‘Citizens Duties During COVID-19’ organised by ASSOCHAM.
Noting that children are the finest carriers of social messages as seen in the Swachh Bharat and 'No to Plastics' campaigns, he said citizens' duties are best embedded in children.
The senior official also informed that the Centre has started engaging non-resident Indians (NRIs) on how they can perform citizens' duties abroad and help the cause of the country.
"We have started involving NRIs through our embassies abroad on citizens' duties and what they can do for India," he said.
Mitra said the government is also trying to reach out to 10 crore children across the country through National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers, among other means, to stress the significance of the 11 fundamental duties incorporated in the Indian Constitution by the 42nd and 86th amendment under Article 51A.
"Rights flow only from duties well performed. If each one amongst us performs our duty, everybody's rights would be automatically protected," he said.
Noting that the COVID-19 battle is a protracted one, the official said, "It is important that we all remain prepared to balance society's health benefits with the potential economic costs of the pandemic, and balance our personal freedoms with public restrictions for our own good.
“Freedom without acceptance of responsibility can destroy the edifice of freedom itself. Rights and responsibilities must be balanced,” he said.
The official noted that the pandemic has presented an opportune moment for the government and industry to act in unison to achieve the goals of "strength, security and self reliance".
"The crisis has brought out the best in the start-up space. Many of them have risen to the occasion and accelerated the development of low cost, scalable and quick solutions," he said.
Mitra added that COVID warriors are the best ambassadors of what is implied by the fundamental duties.