Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar?
The Maharashtra government is going to recommend Sachin Tendulkar for the country’s highest recognition — Bharat Ratna.
Calls for the award have become louder after Tendulkar achieved the rare feat of a double century in the one-day format.
In the event Tendulkar does get this honour, he will be the first sportsman and the youngest person to be so felicitated.
Should he be awarded the highest national honour?
The case for it seems quite strong.
Tendulkar’s greatness in various formats of the game is acknowledged by his peers, seniors, spectators and statisticians alike.
One argument against conferring the award is that he is too young — keeping in mind that the award in many cases has been given posthumously.
But while a politician can be active in politics till death and an artiste can keep performing till the very end, a sportsperson’s achievements are telescoped in terms of the years he is active.
It may be safely said that Tendulkar is nearer the end of his career than the beginning. And the time is ripe for a stocktaking of his contributions to the game and the country.
The fact that the award so far has only gone to politicians, artistes (the last three recipients) or scientists/academicians seems more an argument for extending its ambit.
A Twitter comment read: “Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar? Bharat Ratna has lost its value. Invent a new award.”
If it is so felt, can there be a better opportunity to rehabilitate the award itself by giving it to someone with impeccable credentials and popularity?
As for inventing a new award it may be safely wagered that one will be named after the superlative Sachin sooner or later.
Moreover, the Bharat Ratna was conferred only thrice in the last decade.
In a country of over a billion people can we not find one person to honour every year?
Is it justified to linger when a clear choice presents itself?
Or are we prepared to answer the charge that Indians recognise people only after they have been honoured outside the country?
The only catch is that the Bharat Ratna is “given for exceptional service towards advancement of Art, Literature and Science, and in recognition of Public Service of the highest order”.
So an award for Tendulkar has to be justified in terms of public service.
Think JRD Tata, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa — all past awardees.
Tendulkar has entertained and embodied the hopes of a billion-plus population for two decades but does that qualify as “public service of the highest order”?
(PHOTO: Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his double century during the second one-day international cricket match between India and South Africa teams in Gwalior February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe)