I have been thinking about this for the past few months; especially after Sachin Tendulkar completed 20 years of his amazing international career in November 2009.
The Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian award. The past 41 awardees represent an august group. This award has had lot fewer controversies around it, as compared to the ‘Padma-‘ awards. What better candidate this year than Sachin Tendulkar! And I think he could be the youngest ever (by a wide-margin) to get this honor. In this brief blog post, I will discuss my thoughts on why Tendulkar richly deserves this award.
At The Absolute Pinnacle Of His Discipline
Recent Bharat Ratna awardees include Lata Mangeshkar and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. I have tremendous respect for both and have been a big fan of their music. They (along with other past awardees like Bismillah Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Satyajit Ray) represent the absolute best of their discipline. Their glorious careers have spanned over many decades.
I would like to include Sachin Tendulkar in this list. He is the undisputed world leader in his field…and he has been at this level for many years. All his records and his amazing 21 year old career speak for themselves. But numbers alone don’t do justice to his skill and talent! Just as the great music maestros have enthralled their fans over all these years, so has Sachin. In fact rarely does one see a sports icon who has literally billions of fans, all over the globe. His contributions in making international cricket what it is today, are huge.
The historic Shaniwar Wada fort is not just Pune’s pride; it is the pride of Maharashtra and India. It was the citadel of power of the great Maratha Empire of the 18th Century. At its zenith, the Maratha Empire controlled an area over half of present day India and rivaled the size of the Mughal Empire that preceded it. The Peshwe were amongst the last major powers to surrender to British in 1818. Small and modest in comparison to the Mughal Forts like the Lal Kila in Delhi, the Shaniwar Wada had its own charm, and was witness to some very important history of the Indian sub-continent in the 18th century.
For more information on Shaniwar Wada, please click here.
A massive fire in 1828 destroyed most of the buildings inside the fort. Only the foundations, the periphery walls, and the main entrance survived. The exact cause of this fire is not known. Post this fire, the British had no interest in rebuilding this symbol of Maratha Power. The fort deteriorated over the coming decades. Post independence, Shaniwar Wada saw some restoration work and development.
I recently visited Shaniwar Wada after nearly 25 years. Being a big enthusiast of Pune History, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing the sites of the historic buildings, and the beautiful water fountains.
I was extremely disappointed. The condition of the fort is disturbing. Apparently, some restoration work is going on, but that’s no excuse for the current state! And the person at the ticket window (they charge Rs 5 entrance fee; Rs 100 for foreign visitors) confirmed that this state has been there for a while.
Nearly half of the sign-boards inside the fort, that describe various buildings and structures, are missing. Partial restoration work/construction can be seen at multiple sites, and construction material is dumped haphazardly at various places. Pieces of trash can be seen lying everywhere. Lawns are not maintained properly. The periphery outside the main walls of the fort has a small iron fence, creating a 10-20 feet buffer zone between the fort and the streets. This fence is broken at a few points. The grass here gives an impression that no one has tended to it in years! And it has become a mini-garbage dump.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
Most public gardens in Pune are maintained so much better than this historic monument. And they don’t even charge an entry fee. Question is who is responsible for maintaining this fort? Is it the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)? I understand that the ASI does a nice job in maintaining historical monuments like the Lal Kila, Ajantha, etc. (This is what I have heard from friends who have recently visited there… I haven’t been there in a long time).
Then what is the problem with Shaniwar Wada? Funding? Priority? What Else?
What can be done to get the attention of the right authorities? Is a ‘Public-Private Partnership Model’ an option? What can Punekars do the restore the pride and glory of this great monument? Looking for your suggestions and inputs.
I recently test drove the new Chevy Cruze. There has been eager anticipation about this new Sedan (not just in India, but globally as well…) and I too was keen to see a launch from the ‘New GM’. Over the past 2 decades, I haven’t been a huge fan of American Cars, compared to their German and Japanese counterparts. I was hoping that this new generation vehicle would change it. However, I was disappointed. The current Cruze model was originally developed by General Motors with its Korean counterpart/division (Daewoo). Note – given the price and feature range, I am comparing this vehicle with Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Skoda Laura.