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Thursday, July 19, 2018

House for Sachin

Tendulkar’s nomination is an endorsement of our parliamentary institutions

Written by Rajeev Shukla | Published: May 3, 2012 3:30:28 am

Tendulkar’s nomination is an endorsement of our parliamentary institutions

Few will ever come close to achieving the mind-boggling records that Sachin Tendulkar has set in his landmark career but even fewer will be able to emulate the greatness,sense of balance and integrity which have marked his journey to success and earned him the respect of millions across the world. And more than anything else,even more than the fact that the Little Master has to his name 100 international hundreds and the highest number of runs scored by any individual,it is the essence of Sachin’s personality that makes him a worthy candidate for a nomination to the Rajya Sabha — the House of Elders. Unfortunately,too many people have been unduly critical of the government’s move to bestow this much deserved honour upon Sachin and his acceptance of the same,without really pausing to examine the intentions on both sides.

While I am glad that across the political spectrum and the “civilised” civil society there was wide-scale approval of the government’s decision,a section of the Twitter class perhaps lived up to its cynical best — some even launching an #UnfollowSachin campaign within hours of the decision becoming public,notwithstanding which,Sachin’s Twitter following continued to grow at a healthy strike-rate. (Not that the Master Blaster was ever interested in keeping score in the first place). A section of the media and a few talking heads on TV deemed it fit to call the move “populist”. Perhaps,if they were better attuned to the collective sense of gratitude the nation feels towards Tendulkar,they would objectively term the decision of the government to be a “popular” one,which it surely and legitimately is,because it caters to the sentiments of a billion Indians. Nothing wrong with that unless of course there is now a bar on a democratically elected government to do what a majority of its people would like it do! By that logic,no government of the world would be entitled to honour those who have dedicated themselves to a cause far greater than themselves.

Sachin has been an “ambassador”of the game in the truest sense — a gentleman par excellence who put his country,team and the sport before himself each time and did so even when the going was tough. His achievements as a sporting legend only compliment him but it’s the conduct of the man,inside those cricketing whites,that need to be applauded by us as a nation. There has never been an instance of bad behaviour by the “maestro” on or off the field and modesty has been a constant companion of his on the path of success that he continues to tread. He has been soft-spoken but firm,consistent yet adaptable,and never shied away from putting in those long hours of practice and hard-work. Sachin is not just an ideal cricketer,he is an ideal citizen of India. And credit for moulding the persona of Sachin must go in equal measure to the influence of his upright family as also to his better half,Anjalee Tendulkar,who has always been a pillar of strength for Sachin. The Tendulkar household embodies the highest values of Indian culture and family system — something we barely get to witness today,given the onslaught of a globalised culture on our traditional Indian value systems.

I have always believed that the temple of democracy will be far better served by those whose actions are characterised by a sense of “honour” and not merely those who earn the prefix of “honourable” as a necessary consequence of their membership to the Houses of Parliament. And if there is one candidate who aptly fits that requirement,it is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Rajya Sabha has seen its share of eminent personalities,but to have Sachin Tendulkar as one of its members will be an enriching experience not just for my colleagues and me but for the entire nation.

Some commentators express their reservations about Sachin being able to take a stand on issues. Some claim that he has always been a “reluctant” captain and more comfortable as a “lieutenant” than a leader. They forget that Sachin,for over two decades,led from the front and shouldered the expectations of a billion Indians when it came to opening the innings for India or batting at number four in Test matches and more often than not he was the last man standing and he made himself count — I still remember,amongst many other innings,his debut series in England,Tendulkar all of 17 years and 112 days scored an unbeaten Test century at Old Trafford when India had its back against the wall at 186 for six. Does that not reveal a keen sense of being able to lead? Yes,Sachin may not be unduly vocal but leaders are known by their actions too. Few have questioned if he has the expertise on a range of issues that come up in Parliament for voting. What they have conveniently forgotten about is the grit,determination,perseverance and passion with which Sachin has approached the game and indeed every assignment he has taken up so far. And with his heart in the right place,Sachin will make himself count on issues that he believes in — of that I have no doubt.

Many have unfairly termed Sachin’s nomination to the Upper House as his foray into politics. First of all,Sachin will not be required to retire from international cricket nor will it be necessary for him to join any political outfit. These are decisions best left to his own wisdom. Sachin can continue serving the Indian team as long as his fitness permits and I am sure that,the mature person he is,he will do justice to his new responsibility too. Sachin’s assent to the Rajya Sabha nomination actually shows that he has confidence in the capacity of the pristine institutions of democracy to effect social change,it’s an endorsement of the parliamentary institutions that our forefathers nurtured so dearly — one that will motivate millions of young Indians to re-invest their faith in them. And it couldn’t have come at a better time when you have a concerted effort by certain civil society groups on one hand and the Maoists on the other,each competing to make Parliament less relevant.

The Sachin I have known for so many years has always played with a straight bat. Indeed,the nation will expect him to do the same in Parliament too,and I am sure he won’t disappoint. For those who have mastered the art of negativity,I ask you to give the optimism that Sachin represents the benefit of doubt over your unwarranted cynicism — after all,the benefit of doubt always goes to the batsman. And to Sachin I wish a long and fruitful innings in Parliament.

The writer is minister of state for parliamentary affairs

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