I recently watched a movie in which a Police officer takes his oath, so I began wondering about it. An oath, at the end of the day, is just words spoken out of your mouth. If you really put your heart behind it then only you will feel guilty when you break it or at least it will keep you from breaking it. The argument behind this conclusion is very long and I would like to write it down but not today. Today I want to write only about the result and its further application or else this post will become excruciatingly long. In short, as expected, the result was that these oaths are important and do certainly affect a lot of people who take them. My conclusion was that a reasonable person would definitely try to stay firm on his words till his so called “tipping point” beyond which he MIGHT, you know, break his promise. Lets not think about why and how he would break the promise, just focus on the fact that a promise generally works. And if that person is constantly reminded of his promise then he will make sure that he sticks to it. So, one of the logical branches of my thought process was the oath that a citizen of this country must take.
I have already posted about the Fundamental Duties of citizens of India long back. But this part of the Indian constitution is non-justiciable, meaning it cannot be forced on you. Basically you get a free ride and yet there are so many complaints that are tossed around. Anyway, coming to the point, I thought that a citizen must also take an oath just like any other public servant or public representative. Since the country gives you land, food, shelter and numerous rights it definitely makes sense to owe allegiance to it. That is, even the public must be bound by an oath. Some may argue that being a citizen means taking an oath of allegiance to the country. But I think not. You see, not everyone thinks that way. So, the solution is to make it explicit which will make sure that it is at least taken seriously. Hence, Oath of an Indian Citizen. So, its always good to see what the Constitution or the laws of the land have to say about it.
The Parliament of India passed the Citizenship Act in 1955, under Article 11 of the Constitution of India, where by it provided ways in which a person could become citizen of this country (Later on it has been amended many times, latest being in 2005). It is mentioned in this Act that those who acquire citizenship through Registration or Naturalization (Details can be found here) must take the “Oath of Allegiance” before they are provided with the citizenship. The oath reads as below
I, [name] do solemnly affirm (or swear) that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of India and fulfil my duties as a citizen of India.
It clearly calls for understanding the laws of this land and honouring the Constitution and fulfilling the duties as a citizen. As this Act was passed by the people who also took part in the making of the Constitution I think we must consider that this oath is the bare minimum that every citizen in this country must follow.
My school days reminded me of another word, Pledge. The most simple way to point out the difference between a pledge and an oath is that an oath is generally associated with GOD. They are not something that can be easily broken. Pledge is somewhat more personal and does not has any spiritual overtone. Anyway, coming back to the matter at hand, I came across the pledge I used to recite everyday before the school started. Its called “indian National Pledge” and generally recited in Schools and during celebrations of Independence day and Republic day. It is rumoured to be written by Swami Vivekananda (need source) and it reads as below
India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give my parents, teachers and elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
This pledge was adopted by the schools on Republic Day of 1965 on the advice of the Central Advisory Board in Education which came up with this idea in its 31st meeting held on October 10th and 11th, 1964 in Bangalore.
This, I think, has always inspired me as a kid. Every morning I used to raise my right hand and recite this and I would feel proud. You know that feeling when you see yourself from a third person’s point of view and that person is jealous because he is not Indian, I am 😀 . Its silly, but still I believe that pledge has made impact on a lot of people. This is one of the reason for the conclusion I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. This particular pledge has everything that will make the child who understands it and recites it from his heart a better citizen of tomorrow. It is relevant even now and it has many components of Fundamental Duties embedded in it. Now that I have become a citizen, the oath I take must include more. Of course, it can never be exhaustive but it must have the essentials. I am not going to write an oath and ask everyone to use it. Everyone has a different “tipping point”. Hence, you alone must write your own oath. I have provided two examples and in those are embedded the core values to be followed by every citizen. Write an oath for yourself which includes the above and add to it what you feel is relevant and recite it everyday. Again, it need not be exhaustive, but what ever is written must come from the heart. When it is from your heart, you will always follow it and give all you have to stand on your words
I, as a citizen of India, solemnly swear that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws of India.
I will fulfill my duties as laid down in Article 51A of the Constitution of India.
I shall love and cherish my country and strive to be a worthy citizen and shall perform my work with truthfulness and honesty.
I shall rise above all religious and linguistic prejudices and protect my country, its freedom and its integrity.
To my country and my people, I owe my devotion.
Would definitely love to see more and more people make their own oaths and follow them. I think in today’s trying times with all the drama of corruption and scams on one side and the harsh reality of poverty and deaths on the other, every citizen must rise up to the challenge and for once stop blaming the “Government”. In democracy everyone is a part of the government and the duties of a citizen does not end once he has voted. They just change and we must adopt to them and keep working towards a better future.