By Apoorva Dixit:
Liverpool FC, an English professional football club, bid goodbye to its 17 years of association with a famous beer brand Carlsberg (Probably the best beer brand in the world) last year. Back in India, one of the greatest batsmen in the history of Indian Cricket declined an offer to endorse a top liquor brand. Sports world is truly moving towards a healthier lifestyle; or rather they have taken responsibility to guide the youths globally. How I wish I was right. Both of these deals may have same consequences, but they don’t have common intention. Liverpool dumped Carlsberg for a better offer from Standard Chartered and the Indian batting maestro dumped the offer for his values, social responsibilities and a promise made to his late father, Mr. Ramesh Tendulkar.
The legendary Sachin Tendulkar has proved his skills on the cricket field, but his gesture is worth appreciating. Soon after the news, Maharashtra Government appreciated the master-blaster’s decision of choosing principles over money. Maharashtra Government very cleverly appreciated him but has not adhered to his principles. Sachin has sacrificed Rs. 20 crore offered to him, but Maharashtra Government is not willing to sacrifice the lucrative tax revenues. They allow licensing of liquor and then initiate de-addiction policy as a social service.
“I know that I have influence on youngsters and I don’t feel that I want them to think if I should endorse these products I want them to use them,” said the famous footballer Pele who was also known as the Black Pearl. The little master has followed the same path and has kept his word. His father had told him that people will offer lot of money for ads but he should never endorse brands that are not good for youngsters. He had promised his father that he will never endorse alcohol and Tobacco brands ever in his life. A true example of an icon indeed.
For the country like India, where most of the young people follow one ‘Ma’Â i.e. Cinema; and Cricket is considered a religion, both these medium affect and inspire the citizens. Sachin Tendulkar’s action is surely an example set for the legendary actors like Mr. Amitabh Bachchan who flaunted his cigar for ‘Family’ or recently to Mrs. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who was seen doing the same on the posters of ‘Guzarish’.
On the other hand, Cigarette and Liquor industry are very important tax revenue hubs. Consumption of Beer has jumped 51% from 70 million cases in 2002 to 105 million cases in 2006. The consumption of Indian made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) grew 53% to 115 million cases. Between April to August end this year, the Delhi Government raked Rs. 776.56 crore excise tax on liquor. It provides employment to many. It is like raising a question ‘is the very existence of Tobacco and Liquor Industry ethical?’ Every citizen of India has got a right to consume what has been offered legally. After all India is a free country.
MS Dhoni, who was MTV youth icon in 2006, has happily signed the deal of Rs.26 crore for three years with UB group. Sachin, as usual, has gone beyond this.Â With this step, he has become an icon for the youth icons, both off and on field.
I also feel that one cannot force anyone to do anything. After the rejection from Sachin, the offer will go to some other celebrity who will happily endorse it. Neither will it make any difference to the liquor firm, nor will it make a deep enough impact for drunkards to stop drinking. What if Sachin had endorsed the ad and donated Rs. 20 crore towards the making of a hospital or initiating some social welfare programs? The money intoxicated in the liquor world would have entered a better world for progress of mankind.
Let’s raise a toast for the inspirational decision!
‘Cheers’ to Sachin!