There has been considerable hoopla about your retirement from test cricket. Your fans and the media have been involved in a keen tussle to out-awe each other with their praises for you, their wailing about what will happen to Indian Cricket and all the talk about this being the end of an era!
I do not share any of their angst – after all an era is longer than 24 years! Nor do I share Shashi Tharoor’s worries about how India will cope without you wielding the willow in Test Cricket. I think India has bigger problems than your retirement. There’s the poverty, the hunger, the illiteracy not to speak of the communal hatred being spread by self seeking politicians. But that should not bother you!
What should bother you is: “What now?”If I were you, I would sit down in front of a mirror and look myself in the eye and ask myself, what it means to be the nation’s 43rd Bharat Ratna. Who are the other 42? What is/was their claim to fame? For the most part they were either Freedom activists or self- seeking politicians (people who you co-awardee Dr Rao referred to as ‘idiots’)! There are of course some who excelled in the fields of Music/ Entertainment, the Sciences, Educationists, and even a couple of non-citizens (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela). I would then wonder, what it is that made the powers that be think that I deserved this award. Is it just a political stunt on the part of the ruling party to cash in on my popularity and keep my myriad fans happy just when the elections are around the corner? Or is there finally recognition of the image building value that 'Brand Sachin Tendulkar' brings to India? Whatever, the reasoning, I would probably conclude that it is what it is; I might as well bask in the glory. This could probably explain your magnanimous gesture in dedicating your award to all mothers in India. What does this ‘dedicating’ mean? Will it mean that you will take up the causes of mothers, instead of the inane ad promotions for various material goods that you get paid so fabulously for? Or maybe you will use some of the wealth that fame has bestowed you with, to set up hospitals in remote locations with only one mission: “No more mothers dying during child-birth!” Or maybe it is just a cliché and I am digressing in delusion!
Anyway, back to the “What now?” question. How can you silence all those critics who think that awarding you the Bharat Ratna was misplaced? Here are just a couple of humble suggestions to actually ‘earn’ that Bharat Ratna:
- You could set up a 'Sachin Tendulkar Foundation' that will spot talent and train deserving children in every Olympic sport, setting your administrators and coaches the goal of 20 Gold Medals in the 2020 (Tokyo). That is 7-years from now! And Tokyo has just started building the facilities. So if they can plan and deliver the Olympics in 7-years, I guess you can plan and get to the target of producing seven Gold medal winning athletes. Money should not be a problem for you. And judging by the harsh life that most children in rural India live neither should physical grit, endurance and will-power. What is needed is good coaching, motivation, proper equipment and the right nutrition! This way you can be the catalyst for spawning many more Bharat Ratnas from the field of sports! When you are 70, would you prefer to be known for all your cricketing records (some of which might be bettered by then) or would you want to be known for your service to Indian sport in all its shapes and forms.
- You could use Brand Sachin for promoting India as a tourism destination. God knows we have more natural beauty that any other place in the world. And we need that foreign exchange to save the Rupee.
So go for it Sachin. You described your cricketing life as between 24 years and 22 yards. But come on, Sachin! Life is more than years and yards. It is also about how many lives one has tangibly touched and improved.
Eagerly looking forward to your second innings,