The legacy of Sachin Tendulkar lives on.
Regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time, Sachin played the game for 24 years before calling it a day in 2013 with Wankhede stadium in Mumbai filled to capacity.
Sachin was on top of the game throughout his career and achieved unprecedented heights, the highest run scorer in One Day Internationals and Test Matches, a hundred 100’s in international cricket, one of the best batsmen in the Indian Premier League history, highest run-scorer in world cup history and a world champion. He is rightly regarded as one of the most complete cricketers of the rich history of the game- he could score in all formats of the game, had a knack of taking wickets and was a good fielder.
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However it is worthwhile to know that Sachin is more than a cricketer for India- he is an Indian icon.
He made his debut in 1989, his first few years in cricket were during a tricky period in India, social and religious tensions, the subsequent riots, new economic reforms which threatened an increase in financial inequality and an unstable political situation where India had seven Prime Ministers from 1989-1998.
On this backdrop, Sachin Tendulkar became the world-beater. His skill, perseverance, talent and grit made Indians forget their tensions and cherish something which was good around them. Indian society was largely humble and to an extent defeated.
Sachin led the charge against Akram, McGrath, Ambrose, Warne, Waqar and Donald and often got better of them. He taught Indians to fight and get better of the intimidating ‘foreigners’.
He became a role model for Indians. His humility, ability to stay away from controversies, respect to the game and love towards his family became synonymous with how an ‘ideal Indian man’ must be. He stayed close to his roots and never took his feet off the ground despite achieving what most can only dream of.
He has also shown a terrific sense of social responsibility. He refused a 20-crore contract to endorse an alcohol brand. In 2009, it was announced that he will sponsor 200 children as part of Apnalaya, an NGO.
He also raised 10.25 Million Indian Rupees for a cancer charity. He was a part of government advertisements campaigning about awareness against polio and didn’t charge a single rupee for them. He is also a nominated member of the Upper House of Indian Parliament- the Rajyasabha.
As a part of an initiative by the government, Sachin adopted a small village in Andhra Pradesh. While the village didn’t have a good road connectivity, developed sanitation system, running water and uninterrupted power supply.
Sachin transformed the village entirely and within four months, after spending nearly 60 Million Indian Rupees, concrete roads, an underground sewage network with a treatment plant, 24-hour water and power supply, a playground, a community hall and a school were all established in the village.
Sachin became the first sportsperson to be conferred with Bharat Ratna, as he received India’s highest civilian award in 2014.
He taught India to dream and is indeed a gem of India. Forever and always.