Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday chose the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution to emphasise on people's duties, saying their rights were stressed upon earlier but time has now come to focus on citizens' responsibilities as well.
In his address to a joint sitting of Parliament to mark the Constitution Day, he also made an oblique reference to the Emergency, which was imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, saying that countrymen failed attempts targeting the Constitution and that it remained unwavering.
A special aspect of the Indian Constitution is that it highlights both rights and duties of citizens.
"Let us think about how we can fulfil duties enshrined in our Constitution," Modi said.
Opposition parties boycotted the event to protest political developments in Maharashtra following the governor's decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as the state's chief minister.
Speaking to lawmakers in Parliament's Central Hall, where the Constitution was adopted, Modi said there had been an emphasis on people's rights in the last many years as a vast number of people felt deprived of equality and justice.
The demand of the present time is that society should deliberate on its duties and responsibilities as well, he said and asserted, "We cannot preserve our rights without fulfilling our responsibilities".
Noting that the Constitution begins with "we the people of India", he said people are its strength, inspiration and aim.
"Our effort should be to ensure focus on our duties in our conversations and meetings," he said at the joint sitting which was attended by President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu besides members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, he said the Father of the Nation had understood the fine balance between rights and duties and added, "As proud citizens of India, let us think about how our actions will make our nation even stronger".
The Constitution, Modi said, can be simplified in two mantras as "dignity for Indian" and "unity for India".
"Our Constitution is a sacred book that contains our traditions and beliefs and also offer solutions to new challenges," he added.
Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a key architect of the Constitution, had asked people if the country can uphold freedom and democracy it envisions, Modi noted and said had he been alive, he would have probably been the happiest.
"Not only did India uphold its virtues but it has also strengthened its democracy and freedom," the prime minister said.
He said November 26 is a happy occasion as India celebrates Constitution Day but it also is a sad reminder of the Mumbai terror attacks, which had taken place on this day in 2008. He paid tributes to those killed in the attack.
Recalling the making of the Constitution, he said leaders like Rajendra Prasad, Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Nehru, Acharya Kriplani, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad debated its every aspect and gave people this heritage, as the prime minister paid his tributes to them.