Bharat Ratna controversy: Sachin Tendulkar has been made a pawn in a grotesque chessboard

The decision to award Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar created a political row. While some raised names of other figures for the award, another politician from questioned the decision to award the highest civilian honour to the legendary batsman © IANS

By Bikram Vohra

Get over it. Sachin Tendulkar never asked for it, okay. You want to give him the Bharat Ratna, knock yourself out. But don’t drag the guy through the mud. Stop comparing him to Bhagat Singh and Rabindranath Tagore, Homi Bhaba and a thousand other deserving Indians. That is gross. Not his fault.

The government showed haste. Not his fault.

The government wanted to score brownie points with the one billion Indians who they [the government] think have low IQ. Not his fault.

It was an election stunt the prime minister staggered up to the mike to announce the award 150 minutes after the post-match revelry. Not Sachin’s problem. Was it a dense and gratuitous move? Of course it was! It stank. Not his fault.

In a country where it has never been given to the Unknown Soldier and by that I mean all the men and women in the armed forces and the police who cheerfully have given up their todays for our tomorrows obviously it is obscene to compare hitting a ball with a bat. Off the top of my head, have we ever honoured the Keelor brothers who took on Sabres with second generation Gnats and won the air battle? The cops who gave up their lives in the Mumbai hostage crisis? That’ll be the day.

That is apples and oranges, you don’t compare. The thousands of broken promises to the next of kin of our forces could fill more volumes than Paradise Lost… and paradise has been lost for a long time.

Tendulkar did what he could do and he did it with panache. Fine. If cricket and dying for your country for an enemy’s bullets or writing great poetry or being the quintessential freedom fighter or guiding India into the atomic age are all in the same park then Tendulkar is no less in his success ratio.

It is these clowns in government who messed up with their unholy haste. Tendulkar could have been given the award next year instead of now. It was so populist and uncharitable to be so charitable in minutes from when he left the field.

Now, in some crazy way, he has to stand on this sticky wicket and defend an assault masquerading as an award. It is not fair to put him on the spot.

He did nothing to become a pawn in this grotesque chessboard but there he is on it stuck between this bunch of creeps who think they are smart.

Let me tell you something: Indians do not have low IQs and it is insulting to conclude they do. With one digit IQ, the government decided to rain on Sachin Tendulkar’s parade by suggesting this would be the right time.

(Bikram Vohra has been a journalist for four decades. At the age of 27, he became Resident Editor of Indian Express’ Ahmedabad edition. In 1985, he went to Dubai to re-launch Gulf News, a publication where he was Group Managing Editor till 1989. A year later, Vohra took over as Editor of Khaleej Times and was with the paper till 1995. In the next two years, he worked on the launch of English daily, Gulf Today, where he was appointed its Editor in 1997. In 2004, he took over as Editor, Emirates Evening Post, in Dubai. Four years later, he joined Bahrain Tribune its Editor. After a brief hiatus, Vohra joined Media Dubai Sports City as Director in the latter half of 2009, while continuing to write columns for leading publications across the world. The above article has been reproduced with permission from Governance Now)