Role of Citizens in Nation Building

We are all equal children before our mother; and India asks each one of us, in whatsoever role we play in the complex drama of nation-building, to do our duty with integrity, commitment and unflinching loyalty to the values enshrined in our Constitution.

Pranab Mukherjee, Former President of India

What is a nation and what does the word mean according to an individual? What constitutes a nation? These are some of the questions that need to be answered before understanding the concept of nation-building.

Although the generally accepted definition of a ‘Nation’ does not exist, a nation can be defined as a structure, built and modified by its people to elucidate the identity of a political community in ever-evolving circumstances. This structure which is considered to be a blend of both old and new traditional elements and innovations plays a significant role in producing a contextual story of ‘we’. A nation is considered as a named human population who have been sharing a territory since historic times, common traditions and myths with some historical memories, public culture and an economy, legal rights and duties in common for all members of a nation. Benedict Anderson who defined a nation as ‘an imagined political community’, referred this notion of imagined community as a community of people staying connected to each other with a sense of belonging and without necessarily knowing each other.

Every country or community is made of citizens, and the strength or weakness of the country or community depends on the character of the citizens.

Olakunle Agboola

Concept of Nation Building and Citizenship

Nation-building is an old term and was one of the key concept of the foreign, overseas, security and development policy during the 1950s and 1960s. But in today’s world, it is popularly known as a process which sets in motion the socio-political development of a country by bonding loosely associated societies into a common community of one identity under the concept of Nation. Therefore, the basic purpose and objective of nation-building is to bring unity among the people of a country so that the political viability of a country can sustain for a long period of time. But according to economists, the concept of nation-building has always been the process of creating a properly functioning country out of the one that is not, which basically means to transform a collapsed country that was either destroyed in a war or never functioned as a country in the first place into a country having a legitimately functioning government and effective social institutions with credible currency and a well-functioning economy.

Citizens of a country who are considered as the legal members of a nation act as one of the dominant pillars in the process of building a nation. Dynamic co-operation from every individual citizen acts as a major contribution towards this multidimensional concept of nation-building. This concept of citizenship which has obtained a whole new meaning in this current democratic world majorly emphasizes on the duties and responsibilities of citizens towards one’s own country. Each citizen has to fulfil various duties like paying his taxes, exercise his right of vote, discourage corruption by discouraging bribing, educate people and follow the rules and regulations as a responsible citizen of this country. Therefore a solid and powerful nation can be built from the dedication and hard work of its citizens and some smart measures and implementations of the Government.

There are two basic principles that are followed in today’s world to determine a person’s citizenship, one is inus soli: the principle which considers and classifies people residing and living within the territory of a country as citizens, irrespective of their religion, linguistic roots and ethnicity. Hence living within the boundaries and on the territory of a country has been one of the basic criteria to consider a person as a citizen and bind him with all the legal rights and obligations that are connected to the concept of citizenship. The other one is inus sanguis which entitles the descendants and descending generations of the people who strived to build the country and lived in that territory for ages with citizenship.

Duty of Citizens in Nation Building

  • Paying Taxes
    Paying taxes is the duty and responsibility of each and every citizen towards his/her nation. This duty of citizens plays a significant role in the development of the nation. The then Union Finance Minister of our country, Mr Arun Jaitley had once said that acknowledging taxpayers for paying their taxes within the prescribed time period and timely filing of their income tax returns will aid in bringing about a change in people’s attitude and will drive them in a positive way to pay their taxes on time. This is important because it is a well- known fact that a Nation meets its commitments and obligations towards spending in various social sectors, implementation of various welfare schemes and development of infrastructure through this revenue generated out of taxes paid by millions of tax-paying citizens. Therefore this step which was taken by the Government to communicate directly to the person and appreciated for their contribution contributed majorly in bringing about necessary changes in the behaviour of citizens towards payment of taxes.
  • Exercising Vote as a Citizen
    India being a democratic country, it is built upon the foundation of elections. Voting is not just a mere right given to an Indian citizen; it is a Constitutional Right. It is through the critical way of voting that an individual takes part in the decisions of Government and in a way influences the decision of the Government. Therefore, it is the duty of every citizen to cast his vote and influence the decisions taken by political heads and bring about changes in the country. At the same time, having a transparent and corruption-free election procedure is a step towards building and developing a nation. Under Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it has been contemplated that it is the right of every citizen to take part in the Government of his/ her country either directly or through freely chosen representatives. The right to equal access to publicly serve his country should be given to every citizen. It has also been stated that the authority of the Government should be based on the will of the people.
  • Discouraging Corruption
    Corruption is a serious challenge faced by every country. It hinders the nation from growth and development. India’s Prime Minister Mr Modi’s Government has taken many measures in the recent past to eradicate this social evil. Especially the step of demonetization taken by the Modi Government was considered as a long term reform and a perfect step taken towards nation-building.  This step of demonetisation was popularly called as ‘Charitra Nirman‘ to encourage and push citizens of the country towards building their character as well in the sense to restrain oneself from engaging in corruption.
  • Education: Education helps and enables a person to build the right foundation for himself and enables him to take decisions and make choices that will benefit his further life. Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens is a well-known saying. Therefore knowledge is a weapon that can bring about progress not only to a child’s life but to the entire nation as well. It is only through education that an individual will get an employment opportunity and it is only then that an individual will be in a position to lead a better life. Overall improvement in the living conditions of each individual will contribute towards the overall development of a nation. Hence, education will not only benefit an individual but will also promote the overall progress and improvement of a nation. 


Though there are many ways to build a nation, the contribution of a citizen towards this process of building a nation is unparalleled. Citizens are the greatest source of power for a country. Without citizens, a state or a country is just a piece of land. Every citizen’s dedication will definitely pave the way towards a better nation. We are the soul of a nation and when we strive and perform our duties towards the best interest of our country, only then our country will take a step towards development. Therefore I summarize my words through this quote of Mahatma Gandhi- ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

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