O level Notes : FRS - Religion- Rights And Social Responsibility - Leadership, rights and social responsibility


The word responsibility can be defined as the state or fact of being answerable or accountable for something within one's power, control or management. The Business Dictionary defines a responsibility as a duty or obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task either assigned by someone or created by one's own desire.

Rights and duties are closely related and cannot be separated from one another. These are the two sides of the same coin. If the state gives the right to life to a citizen, it also imposes an obligation on him not to expose his life to dangers, as well as to respect the life of others. If I have a right to work and earn, it is also my duty to recognize the same right of others. As there is a close relationship between the body and soul, so there is a relationship between the rights and duties. Professor Laski finds the following points of relationship between the rights and duties:

  1. The right of one is related to the responsibility of the other

If one has the right, the other has the responsibility related to that right. If one enjoys the right, it becomes the duty or responsibility of the other not to be an obstacle in the enjoyment of his right. For example, if one enjoys the right to life it is the duty of others not to cause any harm to my life. Rights can be enjoyed only in the world of duties. For every right there is a corresponding duty. When the people fail to discharge their duties properly, the rights all become meaningless. One can enjoy his or her rights only if the others allow him or her to do the same. One has the right to life and it is the duty of others to respect one’s life and not to cause any harm to that person.

  1. The responsibility of the one is the right of the other and vice versa

Rights are not the monopoly of a single individual. Everybody gets these equally. This means that others also have the same rights which I have, and it is my responsibility to see that others also enjoy their rights. Laski rightly says that one man's right is also his duty. He goes on to say 'it is my duty to respect the rights of others as well as the duty to use my rights in the interest of society. If I possess rights, I owe duties also.' As we treat others so others will treat us. If the other has the right to life and security, it is our duty that we should not cause any harm to their life and security. To give proper respect and regard to the rights of others is our responsibility.

  1. The government guarantees the enjoyment of certain rights to every individual

Although the state guarantees the enjoyment of rights to every individual, at the same time, it becomes the responsibility of the individual that he should make the use of those rights for promoting the common welfare. It is both a right and responsibility for anyone above the age of eighteen to vote in Zimbabwe. So, if one has the right to vote, it becomes one’s duty that one should cast his or her vote in favour of a deserving candidate. While casting one’s vote, one should not allow his/her prejudice to work. One should not be influenced by the distinction of caste and creed, rich and poor, black and white.

  1. If the state protects me in the enjoyment of my rights

Since the state protects and enforces rights, it also becomes the responsibility of all citizens to be loyal to the state. It is their duty to obey the laws of the state and to pay taxes honestly. So a citizen has both rights and responsibilities. He enjoys rights and performs his duties. Rights and duties are the two sides of the same coin. Treachery is a crime. So, it is quite clear that rights and duties are so closely related to each other, that they cannot be separated from each other. If every individual pays attention only to his rights and does not perform his duties to others, rights of individuals will cease to exist.