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Relevance of Duty Through the Lens of Gandhi and East–West Jurisprudence


The jurisprudence on duty varies from a set of countries to another, influenced by their socio-political and cultural setup. However, a common thread flows with more pervasive waves of globalisation, liberalisation and growing consumerism, where it dilutes the relativism traits. Nevertheless, a right-centric approach is prevalent worldwide. Rights are placed against rights, and the issues arising from the conflict of rights are tried to be resolved through a right-based regime, which has been more chaotic and has significant causality to duties. Duties have been recognised as correlative to rights in both Western and Eastern jurisprudence. Yet, the aggressive assertion and constant focus on rights devalue the importance of duties even in countries such as India, which have been traditionally a duty-based (dharm-based) society. Duties of the State and citizens demand distinct approaches as an extra push for duties by the State without realising its duty towards its citizens may absolve its obligation as a State. Likewise, the duties of citizens demand a more responsible role from them to commit themselves to the unity, integrity and security of the nation. Gandhian thought on duty has a worldwide appeal, and it offers well-tested and pragmatic solutions to some of the most pressing problems of the present time. Many problems of the present times are due to the ill selection of means rather than ends, and in this context, Gandhian thought becomes so essential. Against this backdrop, the present chapter explores the relevance of duties and Gandhian thought on the same in the contemporary world.


  • Rights
  • Duties
  • Gandhian thought
  • East–West jurisprudence
  • State
  • Citizens

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    Samuel Moyen, “Rights vs, Duties” Boston Review, May 16, 2016 available at (last visited 10 December, 2021).

  2. 2.


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  5. 5.

    Ibid. (e.g., responding to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen 1789, the conservatives’ “Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and citizen” 1795 stated: “The maintenance of society requires that those who compose it should both know and fulfill their duties.”).

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    Article 29 (1) of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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    1. (a)

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    1. (b)

      “responsibility” means an obligation that is legally “binding under existing international law.”

    Article 41 (1) of the UDHR provides: “Nothing in this Declaration shall be interpreted as impairing or restricting the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international and regional human rights instruments, nor shall any derogation from or restriction of any human right or fundamental freedom existing in any international human rights instrument or domestic law be admitted on the pretext that the present Declaration does not recognise such rights or that it recognises them to a lesser extent.”

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Singh, K.K., Jain, S.K. (2022). Relevance of Duty Through the Lens of Gandhi and East–West Jurisprudence. In: Mittal, R., Singh, K.K. (eds) Relevance of Duties in the Contemporary World. Springer, Singapore.

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