A different innings for Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar Tendulkar is India's biggest sporting idol

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Sachin Tendulkar is India's most-loved icon, and is worshipped by millions for his amazing cricketing feats. His fans think he's a god who can do no wrong on field and off it.

Yet, the world's most feted cricketer is also somewhat of an enigma - he is an inscrutable man, and has publicly stated that he is not entirely comfortable with manic fan worship.

For all his outstanding records, Tendulkar has been a less than inspiring leader on field, as his spotty record during a brief tenure as the India captain showed. He also hardly speaks his mind on issues.

Seven years ago Sambit Bal, editor of ESPN Cricinfo, asked Tendulkar why people felt he didn't take a stand on issues. "I have taken stands before, but often whatever I say gets misinterpreted and meanings are attached to it," the star replied. He didn't mention what issue or stand he had taken up and continued: "I don't want to go into specifics now, but I felt this is going to happen, so why get into it?"

Mr Bal pressed on: But your voice carries a lot of weight. By speaking out, you could make a difference? "If you know that whatever you say will become a controversy, why get into it unnecessarily?" Tendulkar replied. "At least I feel, okay, there are people who are managing those issues and my job, at least for the time being, is to play cricket, so let me focus on that."


So when news arrived last week that he had accepted a nomination to the upper house of India's parliament by what many believe is a discredited and struggling ruling Congress party, many were incredulous. Sanjay Manjrekar, a former team mate and one of the wiser cricket commentators, said he was shocked. "I never realised these sort of things interested him. He is not one to express his views publicly and this would be a real test for him. I hope he can make a difference in the parliament."

Others have been harsher, blaming the Congress party for cynically exploiting the icon to provide the nation with a pseudo feel-good moment at a time when its fortunes have touched rock bottom and people are feeling low.

It's entirely possible that Tendulkar has changed his views ever since the interview seven years ago. It's also possible that he is ready to step out of his comfort zone and face up to newer challenges and wants to make his voice heard and count.

But he has squelched rumours about retirement and zealously told the world recently that he plans to continue playing for a while - after all, he is India's biggest brand, and with millions of advertising dollars riding on him, he cannot be allowed to fade away with, say, the quiet dignity of Rahul Dravid. Yet Tendulkar has not spoken on how he plans to serve the parliament while remaining one of India's busiest cricketers.

The history of such reputed nominated dignitaries to India's parliament is largely uninspiring. At best, Tendulkar can make a difference by finally speaking out on issues - the utter neglect of other sports outside cricket and the thoughtlessly unrelenting calendar for India's cricketers, which leads to early burn out of talent. It is not going to be easy: cronyism dominates cricket, like most things in India, and nobody, including TV commentators, dares question the officialdom on anything.

At its worst, the god will become a mere mortal in a noisy, partisan, squabbling parliament whose own reputation, many believe, is at a low ebb. So has Tendulkar got his timing awfully wrong this time? Or as analysts such as Jayaditya Gupta say, does he deserve the benefit of doubt?

Soutik Biswas, Delhi correspondent Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    he is totally commited to earn more and more money,this is another route to make more money,nothing else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Instead of judging Mr.Tendulkar's actions, let us hope that he campaigns on behalf of sports. It is a shame that Indian sports (except cricket) is in such bad shape despite having a huge talent pool. Being in upper house it is very unlikely that he will be significantly involved in any major political decision, however his presence in RS may give the much needed boost to Indian sports.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    A person who is not even able to take the burden of captaincy of his team is given a burden of being a member of Rajya Sabha, I wonder how he will be able to handle it.
    Another thing is that now since he is a Rajya Sabha member he is obliged to attend the Parliament session, or will he be privileged to play his scheduled Matches and do advertisement campaigns instead, just because he is 'Sachin'??

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Given that India has had actors as MP's/MLA's (and CM's)--why not a sportsperson?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Right now we need people in Indian politics who have the passion towards protecting the nation and nurturing it, people like Sachin or Rahul make no difference what so ever. It is just a mode for them to earn more money. It is a shame if people will support Sachin just because he is a cricket icon and have neglible knowledge about politics. We dont want any more puppets here.


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