By Kanishk Dudeja
Edited By Apurva Grover
The Good Old Wikipedia describes the Bharat Ratna as the highest order civilian honour award, given to an individual, for the services provided to his/her country. Well, if that description is accounted fair enough, then Sachin Tendulkar is one of the most befitting names for the honor.
There are different theories attributed to the career and approach of Sachin, who is no less than a phenomenon. He has been epitomized for his aesthetic cricketing and refined sportsmanship. Some credit it to his unfulfilled hunger for runs, some account it to his unadulterated love for the sport, while others feel that it is the humble personality and the respect he has for the opposition. In addition to all these, his family has also played a significant role in his rising to be perceived as a demigod for cricket aficionados all over the globe.
He has been regarded as the greatest batsman since Sir Don Bradman, as a man with the ability to regulate the moods of a nation cascaded with cricket fanatics. In the span of 21 years of exceptionally successful and respected sporting career, his down-to-the-earth middle class values, contendedness and profound discipline has made him an exemplar for the common man of India.
Today, the man has reached beyond human measurements as a cricketer, with his achievements defying precept, mandate and the orthodox. The biggest paradox is that he has achieved all of this for himself and his love for the game, yet the nation benefits from it the most. It is a privilege to see him bat. Just a cover drive is gratifying enough to make a spectator’s day. He brings so much happiness to every Indian household every time he gets going on the field.
Steve Garvey had once remarked about the conflicting mindset between the sportsperson of the earlier and the modern times, “The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey. The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front. The new ballplayer cares about the name on the back.”
Unlike the earlier times, youngsters today customarily think of winning and not of honour in defeat. Had Tendulkar not been there, would this be possible? Doubtful.
Virender Sehwag, one of the most promising and successful batsmen today, claimed that he picked the bat up because of Sachin Tendulkar. There cannot be a better compliment to the greatness of the Indian icon.
In a remarkably long career, his image has been exceptionally controversy free, his behaviour on and off the field, unblemished. Taking into account the greatest cricketing icons in the last couple of decades, Tendulkar can conveniently be regarded as the greatest of gentleman. Vivian Richards was known for his quick temper and frequently outbursts of dissent with the umpiring decisions. Even Gary Sobers, considered by many to be a better cricketer than Tendulkar, had controversies following him throughout his career. Even in the current blotched, tainted and apparently corrupt sporting scenario, Sachin Tendulkar stands gracefully apart. He has been the essence of what the game should be all about. As we’ve all witness on the Television on numerous occasions, when he is wrongly declared out, he hardly shakes his head for a split second in dissent as he walks off, showing glorious sportsmanship.
Even in his personal life, which has been almost public for over 20 years due to the enormous media scrutiny, his record has been spotless. He even finds it difficult to take his wife and children out for dinner because of the paucity of privacy. Even if there’s so much being said about him on the news by the capricious Indian media, he has never even shown a sign of anger or justification.
He has been cricket’s best salesman, drawing crowds everywhere and almost single-handedly raising revenues for the Board of Control for Cricket in India. He is also featured in lots of endorsements, but without it ever letting affect his game. The amount of respect he commands all over the world is just phenomenal. I remember, once on an England tour, he scored nominally and was out consecutively in three innings. Yet, on the 3rd occassion, everyone on the ground was standing to applaud him. He’s been the favourite of the Australian crowds, which are generally arrogant and are not seen supporting the success of the opposition’s player. It is his integrity, commitment, modesty, righteousness and the ability to carry the hopes of a billion people on his shoulders that makes him the only player on the planet to receive standing ovations at every ground he steps on to.
This is an excerpt from an article from Ayaz Menon:
“A billion Indians live and die, to to speak, with Tendulkar at the wicket. Nobody unites such a diverse,parochial,multi-religious country like him. Why is he so deeply embedded in the Indian psyche should be the subject of greater research. Perhaps, he epitomises the integrity, righteousness and excellence that all of us aspire to, many in public life promise, but nobody quite manages.
With no high degree, only a bat in hand, he was to show that genuine talent did not need reservation to succeed. The fame and wealth he has garnered epitomises the country’s march towards meritocracy.
That he has done without vulgarity, brashness or unconcern for others, shows that to succeed, new india need not cast away the sublime cutural values of the old.”
Above all, it is the incredible burden of expectations that he has carried all his life, which marks him as someone special.
To conclude, as the Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar says, “He has been providing UNINHIBITED joy to millions of people consistently over a span of 20 years”. Can anyone manifest more service to his/her country through a sport? In my opinion, NO. He should undoubtedly be rewarded with the Bharat Ratna, but not just for cricket.