To the Editor of New India
Rights and Duties

In the course of a recent lecture at Madras, Mrs. Annie Besant is reported to have emphasised the upholding of one’s duties in preference to one’s rights. And the Chairman of the meeting, Justice Sadasiva Iyer, naively remarked (in effect): “ After listening to Mrs. Besant’s speech, I have come to see that man has no rights at all. He has only duties. God alone has rights, etc.”

Now, I have a right to submit that such teachings contain but a partial truth and may do injury to the cause of our national progress which, I am sure, is as dear to the hearts of Mrs. Besant and Justice Iyer to anyone else’s.

My duties are based on my rights. That is to say, may duties to others are defined by their duties to myself. It is my duty to respect my father, because I am his son and he has permitted me the right to the life and the culture that he has bequeathed to me.

In my view, they are of equal sacredness: my rights and my duties. My duties I must fulfil. My rights I must vindicate. Life is possible only on such a basis.

Meanwhile, it is the right and duty of the wise ones to purify the strong by teaching them their duties and to strengthen the weak by teaching them their rights.

October 17
C. Subramania Bharati

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