I did my graduation with political science as my honour subject. Thereafter I went on to do my post graduation also in political science from Delhi University. This meant that for 5 straight years I did nothing but just read and studied books on politics by various authors. And in doing so I literally chewed and digested almost every political terms and concepts that are to be found in the books of politics and political science. From common concepts like ‘justice’, ‘democracy’ and ‘law’ to unfamiliar terms like ‘behaviorism’ and the ‘social contract theory’, I had it all clarified and memorized as if my very life depended on them. Likewise I also got introduced to the ground breaking and radical philosophies of almost all major political philosophers from both the east and the west. From Aristotle and Plato to M.N Roy and Sri Aurobindo and from John Locke and Thomas Hobbes to Machiavelli and Karl Marx, I had it all in my finger tips and in the back of my mind.
But now it has been over 15 years since I completed my post graduation and I have not had a thorough reading of any political science book since then. Though I still remember and know the core ideas and theories of the various political philosophers and also the meanings of the many terms and concepts, I am no longer as sharp and articulate in these like I once used to be. Everything is now mingled up and jumbled in my mind. But there is a statement, which I read both during my graduation and post graduation, which I have not forgotten and which I probably will never forget. And the statement is “Every Right Has A Corresponding Duty”.
Now, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that every right has or should have a corresponding duty. In other words, one does not have to be a student of history, theology, sociology or even politics to know and understand this statement. This is because we live in a ‘give and take’ world and we are here not just to consume and devour for ourselves but also to contribute and let others also thrive. Human society thrives and rises to new heights whenever there is a spirit of “give and take” amongst its citizens. As constituents of a human society, we expect certain things from our fellow beings and society and likewise we are also expected to contribute certain things back to the society.
In our society today, we are all very well aware of our rights. In fact we are very fond of talking about our rights and we should be. We also do not hesitate to take on even the government or go out into the streets whenever our rights are denied or infringed upon. These are all signs of a vibrant democratic society.
But with every right there also comes a corresponding duty. And many a times I feel like we are not as passionate about our duties as we are about our rights. Every right has a duty attached to it. And if we are to only talk and fight for our rights without talking about and doing our duties, it would lead to a lop-sided society because a society can thrive only when it is a two-way process of giving and taking. Like J.F. Kennedy splendidly said, “ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country”, sometime we need to think ways of how we can contribute for our society and fellow-beings rather than just thinking about how and what we can get from others.
It is also said that the people who elect corrupt leaders during elections are not victims but accomplices. I think this statement is very applicable to us today. We complain about the corruption and ills practiced by our leaders but we are the ones who elected them in the first place. We are proud of our voting right and we should be but it also means that we should vote responsibly and from our hearts after considering thoroughly as to who would be able to do justice as our representative rather than being driven by negative impulses like money, nepotism, favoritism, fear, prejudice etc.
Everybody owns a car today. It is a blessing but in a way it has also become a curse because the more the cars on the roads the more the tension on the roads and the narrower our roads become and the lesser the space we have. Our many cars make us demand better roads and better and more parking spaces from the government. But the story should not end there. Our many cars also means that we should park our vehicles responsibly, it also means that we should follow traffic rules and also obey and respect the traffic personals who are manning our roads instead of taking them for granted.
As government servants, it is our right that we get our monthly salary and other governmental benefits on time so that we may be able to do justice to our assigned jobs happily without unnecessary tensions, inconveniences and hassles. But as govt. servants it is also our duty that we reach our offices on time and do our assigned jobs with sincerity, dedication and commitment. Likewise, a govt. servant is also expected to pay the due respects to their superiors, the govt. rules and orders etc instead of complaining and protesting. As govt. servants it is also our duty to pick up the phone when someone is trying to contact us for official works. Likewise it is also a moral duty of govt. servants to not always badmouth or criticize the boss unnecessarily. Your boss may be ugly, grumpy, uncivilized or even downright evil. But as long as you are getting your pay from your department, it is your duty to treat your boss and your department with the due respect and honour instead of assuming a “holier than thou” attitude.
We also have a tendency to ask for various public amenities from the government. For example, we ask for streetlights, for good transportation, for good govt. buildings, for sport complexes, stadiums, art theatres, music halls etc. But even when the govt. provides these, why is it that these amenities are always in bad and deplorable conditions. I guess it is because we have disgusting and pathetic attitudes towards these. These public properties are always in such a dismal shape because though the govt. provides it to us as our right, we do not feel any sense of duty towards these properties. Forget about maintaining or caring public property, we have literally turned our offices, sports complexes, stadiums, theatres etc into our dustbins, urinals and toilets. This is the reason why some of the most gigantic and mega structures in our land which were built with great promises and ambitions look more like haunted monuments providing a safe haven for anti-social and immoral activities. So I guess the time has come for us to not only blame the govt. but also to look inside ourselves for a wholesome answer.
A person who thinks only about his rights but is not concerned about his duties was categorized as an ‘idiot’ by the Greeks. An idiot is a person who thinks about only himself. He is consumed by ‘what can I get’ rather than ‘what can I give’. He is always out for his selfish and self-centered objectives. He has no sense of responsibility, no sincerity and no commitment whatsoever and he has no desire to contribute anything back to the society. This was why the Greeks called the ‘idiot’ as only an ‘upgraded barbarian’. My hope is for a Naga society that is devoid of any idiots.
Contrary to an idiot, a noble citizen is one who not only knows his rights in the society but also his duties towards the society. Let us all be noble citizens who are not only talking and fighting for their rights but also are equally sensitive and sentimental towards their duties and who have a burning desire to work and contribute for the welfare of their fellow-beings. As the saying goes, “we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give”…