God of Cricket in a new Temple, would he hit a ton or a duck?

by Kishor Kumar Dash (IBS Hyderabad, Class of 2004)

For last four days there is a very hot discussion everywhere from home to public place and to your workplace. Switch on any Indian News Channel, you will find either a debate going on or a news programme on this or at the least there is a news flash reflected on your Television screen. Thank god this time it is not on a corruption scandal by any politician which was in prime attention for the Indian citizens and the media for last few quarters. Rather this time the hot discussion is on a far better and rather healthy topic “If Sachin is right on joining Politics”.

I can very much understand the reason behind so much of media and public attention on Sachin accepting the Rajya Sabha nomination recommended by Govt of India. But what is hurting to all true Sachin fans (including me) is the way the whole episode is being politicized. Our point of discussion is on an assumption that Sachin has joined the mainstream politics by accepting the Govt nominated Rajya Sabha membership. This is based on the presumptionthat he is also now joined the Congress Party.

Hang on for a moment…Let’s put our facts correct first. Joining Rajya Sabha does NOT necessarily mean joining in mainstream politics. Accepting Govt endorsed nomination to Rajya Sabha also does NOT conclude that Sachin has joined the Congress Party, the party in Govt. In my little knowledge on constitution, the Govt nominated Rajya Sabha MP has the right to deny joiningany political party (Congress in this case) within six months of joining Rajya Sabha. As we have NOT heard anything from Sachin Tendulkar on whether he is joining the congress party or not, let’sstop assuming & presuming on this and wait till he comes with his decision.

A Sports Icon Joining Rajya Sabha by Govt nomination signifies a huge honour for the individual and also to the Sport. If I am not mistaken, Sachin is probably the first active sports ICON to be nominated to Rajya Sabha. This step certainly sets a new trend in the Indian Political System which should be taken in the right spirit. This is probably one of the very few visible good initiatives taken by the Govt in the recent past which has been welcomed by all the political parties, at least at the face value. Let’s for a change appreciate the Govt for a very good move which was rare in the recent past. You never know this step just could be the beginning of a series of new initiatives and reforms to be taken by the Govt in the recent future after a lot of criticism on IMFs concern on governance and the rating downgrade by Standard &Poor. I know the most of the readers might be smiling at my optimistic argumentJ.

Coming back to our discussion, the only fact isSachin has joined Rajya Sabha which is nothing but just accepting the honour given to him by the Govt for his contribution to the most popular sports in India. Now the question comes, being an active sportsperson, how can Sachin Contribute in the Rajya Sabha debates, discussions and policy decisions? Some critics also think this is just waste of one seat as Sachin could not attend Rajya Sabha sessions because he is now very actively involved in playing cricket. Let me address this by putting some facts and figures.

I just did a quick check on the ICC Futures program schedule in which India has to play 31 Test Matches and 47 ODIs till the world cup in Feb 2015. In the recent past Tendulkar has been very selective in playing ODIs and has also missed few test series depending on the opposition. If we go by the past statistics Sachin would have around145 days of commitment for cricket(inclusive of the break days involved during the series) in a year including IPL till the 2015 World cup (with an assumption of 75% of the test series, 50% of the ODI series and 100% of IPL Matches). On the other side on an average there would be around 75 Rajya Sava sitting days in a year (FYI – there were 73 Rajya Sabha sessions held in 2011of the 222nd, 223rd and 224thSession). Though I understand there would be some overlapping on the cricket commitment days and the Rajya Sabha session days, but this should not be beyond 35% (having a quick compare with the Future Cricket calendar and the expected date/month of the Rajya sabha sessions – Budget session, Monsoon session and Winter session). 35% average overlapping could ensure around 60-65% average attendance of Sachin in Rajya Sabha. Which is a decent attendance percentage as compared to the 71% average attendance percentage in Rajya Sabha in 2011 (the average figure 71%, is taken from the Rajya Sabha Annual Report for the 222nd, 223rd and 224thSession). Though there is still a scope of improvement in his attendance, which can be improved and be matched with the average of 71% in the remaining sessions post to 2015 World Cup as it is expected that Sachin would at most continue playing international cricket till 2015 World Cup. I think the above statistics now justify that Sachin would certainly be able to afford time to attend Rajya Sabha sessions. Then the next part is would he be able to add any value to the Rajya Sabha as an Independent MP. Let me add some exciting perspective on how he could be an asset to the Rajya Sabha.

His long 23 years of experience in Cricket from the grass root level to International arena, if used effectivelycould help in reforming the Indian Sports Administration by framing forward looking policy in the parliament. He could be a driving force behind revamping the controversial sports reform bill (initially developed by Sports minister Mr. Ajay Maken which is currently in back burner) and take this further by making the bill capable of reforming the sports federation by bringing accountability & responsibility to the Sports Administrators and transparency in the operation of Federations. Using his reputation, stature and universally acceptable personality, he could also proved to be instrumental in influencing, negotiating and developing consensus in the parliament on bringing several reforms, initiatives, policy and investments in developing and building sports infrastructureand making India a Sports nations with a vision to be one of the leading Olympic gold medal winning Nation in the coming decades.

I know few of the critics could argue that this is again an assumption and presumption on what Sachin can do in Rajya Sabha. But I am not assuming rather very consciously putting these forward looking and very positive expectations despite of being aware of the criticism. Because of the simple fact that we all are now ashamed of the fact that India being the second largest populous country in the world having 16% contribution to the world population and the third largest economy in the world (As per GDP on PPP) is still struggling to win One Gold Medal in Olympics. This is simply because of our sports infrastructure being extremely pathetic and even worse than some of the poor underdeveloped African nations. Hence being an optimistic young Indian I have only one option left with me to hope that Sachin might make some difference to the fate of the Sports of this vibrant Nation which was once upon a time in the history known for leading the world in various sports and athletics. On a very serious note all these expectations can be reality if Sachin, the Govt & its party and also the opposition come together with a shared vision to make our nation known for sports the way it is known for Information Technology today. Let’s all request the congress party and the Govt to take this good initiative a step further by giving responsibility and Authority to Sachin on playing a pivotal role on reforming the Sports policies. Let’s also request to all the Opposition parties to rise above the party politics and provide their full support to Sachin and the Govt for this bright cause. Being a big fan of Sachin and Knowing him from outside (as I am not fortunate enough to have personal relationship with himJ), Sachin would not need any kind of request for this brilliant cause. I am surehe understands his role and responsibility pretty well as a Rajya Sabha MP and would not miss the opportunity just by considering himself as a symbolic representation to the highest power house of the Government. All his fans expect him to use this excellent opportunity to the extent possible by taking the cognizance of his experience, undisputed personality and impeccable integrity,to take all the stake holders on board and become a facilitator onbringing a dramatic change to the fortune of the sports& athletics of this country.Most importantly this also gives him one more chance to show his leadership qualities for which he has not been much appreciated by the cricketing fraternity and even by his fans.

With all these very optimistic expectations I would like to conclude that I strongly believe the God of Cricket would also score a ton in his new Temple, the Rajya Sabha. J.

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