So the rules regarding the criteria for the Bharat Ratna Awards have now been modified to include people from all fields. Immediately news channels are calling for awarding this highest civilian honour to Sachin Tendulkar. Infact one leading news channel had a headline which said that the road had been cleared for Sachin to get the Bharat Ratna award.
Does Sachin deserve the Bharat Ratna? Undoubtedly he is one of the greats of modern cricket. Undoubtedly he is living icon and perhaps the most popular sportsman in the country. Undoubtedly his contribution to Indian cricket is immense. But is all this enough to get a Bharat Ratna? For there are other sportsman in this country who can perhaps meet all the above criteria’s.
What about Vishwanathan Anand who is the only Indian to win a world championship four times? What about Leander Paes, perhaps the greatest Indian sports man of the 90’s, having been responsible for winning India its first individual Olympic medal in 44 years and winner of many doubles grand slam titles. What about Malleshwari, brilliant woman weightlifter and winner of an Olympic medal? What about Prakash Padukone and Gopichand, winners of the prestigious All England open? Abhinav Bindra and Rajvardhan Rathore play a sport which is not really television friendly. But it is important to note that they are Olympic gold and silver medal winners respectively.
It is important to note that sportsman like Anand, Gopichand and Malleshwari have been numero unos in a sport that is played by millions in every country of the world. Leander Paes has achieved success in one of the most popular sport in the world in which it is very very difficult to break into the top 500. Whether we can compare their achievements with those of Tensdulkar’s is a debatable point. I am a huge cricket fan but it is important to note that the world of cricket is relatively small arena.
Even within the game of cricket, can Tendulkar skip before Kapil Dev- an outstanding all rounder and more importantly a successful captain and a leader who led India to a world cup victory, something which Tendulkar failed at. What about Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid- two great Indian batsman who in their own ways have contributed to the glorious history of Indian batting?
Without a shadow of doubt Tendulkar is a true great, perhaps the best batsman of this generation though fans of Ponting, Lara and Kallis might have reasons to dispute that. Perhaps he is the greatest Indian Batsman of all time though fans of Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid might have something to say about that. Statistically he is the greatest batsman off all time but many experts have rated Viv Richards above him.
The most infuriating thing about the recent hype about Sachin is this recent trend by some media agencies and some writers/columnists to refer to him as the god of cricket. Tendulkar, the great cricketer that he is, is no GOD. His career graph is like any other successful sportsman, showing lots of upward movement and some downward trends too. Tendulkar has achieved his greatness through shear hard work and commitment and by referring to him as “God” you are belittling and insulting his hard work passion and commitment.
The Tendulkar obsession in this country is going to insane proportions. It is almost becoming a crime to say anything against the master. If you write a book which has something negative about Tendulkar, the book runs into trouble. If you write an article critising Tendulkar you are supposed to be irrational. If a former cricketer says something about Tendulkar, he is either supposed to be jealous of Sachin or seeking publicity. And if an English or Australian does not acknowledge Sachin’s greatness he is supposed to be racists.
But this blog is not disputing Tendulkar’s greatness. What it is trying to say is that Tendulkar is not the be all and end all Of Indian cricket and definitely not of Indian sports. He is a definitely a “ratna” but in our obsession towards him we shall not ignore other “ratnas”.