Sachin Tendulkar (image credit: wikipedia)
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 Great Role-Model: Humility, Passion, Leadership and Work Ethic
But Sachin’s greatness goes beyond his individual success and his ability to entertain. He has been a great role-model for an entire generation of sports fans in India and around the world. In today’s world of media hype and controversies, he has managed to stay above the fray. One of the first things that strikes you when you follow his career, is his humility. Modern day professional sports and being humble, don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. But Tendulkar has been a strong exception.
His passion and love for the game are still as fresh as they were two decades back. Every time he is on the field, this passion radiates through to the entire team. He still has that school-boyish, infectious enthusiasm.
His leadership on and off the field, is often not discussed as much as his batting. Tendulkar has been the clear leader in whatever team he has been part of. Leadership doesn’t come through titles and designations. It comes from the respect of peers. It comes from a great work ethic. It comes from an ability to put the team ahead of an individual. Sachin will gladly field on the boundary line…something most ‘senior’ players don’t do. Leaders also need a new level in mental toughness. Sachin Tendulkar has played through innumerable crises, both on and off the field. And each and everytime, he has emerged stronger.
Few people talk about Sachin’s physical endurance. To play professional sports at this level takes exceptionally good physical fitness. To play at this level for over 20 years takes something really special. Let alone cricket, but how many professional sportsmen have played at this level of competence for such a long period? Sachin’s physical endurance as well as his consistency comes from a great work ethic. This practice and hardwork is not seen on the field. After yesterday’s record-breaking 200 at Gwalior, where he batted for nearly 4 hours – many, including the commentators were predicting that he will not return to field..at least for an hour or two. But as the South African innings began, Sachin was right there! There are countless such incidents throughout his career.
Far too many times, the Bharat Ratna award has been bestowed in the twilight of the winners’ careers. Here is an opportunity to change that!
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NOTE ADDED May 5, 2010 –
Sachin Tendulkar is on twitter!
Finally Sachin Tendulkar has made his appearance on twitter! It’s great to see him tweeting. His twitter id is @sachin_rt . If you are not a twitter user, but still want to see his tweets, you can directly go to his twitter page: http://twitter.com/sachin_rt