From cricket whites to khadi

He should only play cricket. He is not a good manipulator, which is the basic thing required in our Parliament’. That message, from one of our followers on Twitter — @mid_day if you’re wondering — came in response to a question we posed: Do you think it makes sense for Sachin Tendulkar to become a member of the Rajya Sabha?

The query was posed an hour before it was confirmed that the little master had accepted the membership. According to Article 80 of the Constitution, nomination of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in matters such as literature, science, art and social service is allowed. Even so, mention of the veteran cricketer in this context did raise a few eyebrows.

At the risk of sounding mildly contrarian, we have to applaud Tendulkar’s inclusion. The Rajya Sabha is a body of great dignity, a fact often ignored in the face of frequent adjournments that tend to grab more headlines. It has, over the course of its history, played a constructive role, influencing government policy for the greater good. It also continues to act as a buffer against hasty legislation, a role that requires a significant amount of tact.

This, then, is where Tendulkar’s qualities come to the fore. He is, arguably, one of the most famous people on earth. Yet, he has never been caught with his foot in his mouth. He appears, over a long and illustrious career, to have made no enemies. He has stayed calm in the face of unimaginable pressure — watch any major India-Pakistan match for proof — and earned the respect of folk on and off the field in the process.

Most importantly, Tendulkar plays the role of gentleman in what has always been described as a gentleman’s game. We need more gentlemen in politics. He certainly fits. 

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