Target Sachin Tendulkar: Quick way to grab attention

Targeting Sachin Tendulkar (above) has remained profitable pursuit for some looking to grab eyeballs through negative methods © Getty Images

By H Natarajan

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone — Bible

Whether he is playing, resting, convalescing or holidaying, Sachin Tendulkar makes headlines — irrespective of what he does or does not. Even after retirement, he has been making headlines — some for all the wrong reasons, and for no fault of his.

The focus on every move and every action of his is directly proportionate to the frenzy whipped by the media — mainstream and social. However, irrespective of the media frenzy, there will always be a section of the masses that thrive on nit-picking in whatever Tendulkar does. It’s their full-time occupation and their chance to grab attention.

Just days after Tendulkar was decorated with the Bharat Ratna, a case was filed in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) in a local court there challenging the decision to award him the highest civilian award, charging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde with hurting peoples’ sentiments! This takes the cake and the bakery: Tendulkar was named as an accused in the case filed under Indian Penal Code Sections 420 (offences relating to cheating and dishonesty) 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 417 (punishment for cheating), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 120(B) (punishment of criminal conspiracy).  The case was filed by a local lawyer; I won’t name him and give him what he seeks — free publicity. Honestly, it’s these ridiculous petitions does nothing to ease the pressure on an overburdened judiciary in India.

Nobody is interested if your gripe against your next door neighbour, working in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) as a clerk, getting a bank loan to purchase a one bedroom hall, kitchen (BHK) 100 kms outside the city. But if the buyer happens to the iconic, multi-millionaire son of a humble former LIC employee, then surely it does — at least for a nation that loves to lap up such news. Tendulkar making a strategic 1BHK makes national headlines when there are a zillion other things of national interest that should have got our media’s attention.  A big hue and cry was made about his applying for a loan. What’s wrong in borrowing, if it is going to give him tax breaks? It is merely an accounting issue, a decision certainly made by his charted accountant — and endorsed by him. Everybody does that and it’s allowed by the system. There is nothing illegal about it.

Another news which became a national debate is about Tendulkar selling his much-publicised Ferrari. It outraged the self-appointed moral police of the land. How could Tendulkar sell a gift?

Similarly, the whole brouhaha surrounding the sale of his Ferrari was inexplicable. Did he sell off a gold medal? Did he sell off some trophy? It was a gift from a company with whom he had a commercial deal. The company was interested in being associated with the legend and hence gifted its product to him. It helped the company’s brand image.

Don’t temple authorities auction off things offered to deities? Or should that be considered blasphemy?

Tendulkar is not guilty of what Shane Warne did: threatened a girl for clicking his picture while smoking. Warne was bound by a contract with Nike that offered him great money if he stayed off cigarettes for the contract period. If the picture were published, Warne would have lost money. On the other hand, Tendulkar has consistently turned down huge offers to endorse cigarette and alcohol. He realises that he has a social responsibility and has conducted himself impeccably in the quarter of a century that he has been in public life.

But there is little point in talking logic to people who have a hidden agenda in slamming public figures. As Tendulkar once said quite philosophically and in his characteristically restrained manner, “People will throw stones only at a fruit-laden tree.”

(H Natarajan, formerly All India Deputy Sports Editor of the Indian Express and Senior Editor with Cricinfo/Wisden, is the Executive Editor of CricketCountry.com. A prolific writer, he has written for many of the biggest newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. A great believer in the power of social media, he can be followed on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/H.Natarajan  and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/hnatarajan)