When I met you on 03 September in Mumbai, I was highly impressed by two facets of your personality - simplicity and honesty. I thought at that time, if the people sitting in the power corridors too become as honest, simple and passionate about their work as you are, then it could give a facelift to the whole nation. You have changed cricket in past 24 years and now it`s time to change the face of the nation.
Sachin, when you will play your 200th Test match against West Indies in Mumbai, millions of cricket lovers in India will have their eyes fixed on you. Those watching you would want to freeze in their memories different frames of their beloved player in action forever – Sachin taking his stance, Sachin sending the ball across the boundary with ease and, if possible, Sachin celebrating his last century, waving his bat with one hand and holding the helmet in the other.
But, will your mind be invaded by the thoughts about cricket only? Will your eyes be only on the ball being hurled by the rival bowler or on that emptiness which you wouldn’t have imagined before?
Sachin, you are the brand ambassador of, not just cricket but the entire nation - The Brand Ambassador of Indian culture and family values.
The Indian cricket can now be categorised into three eras – first, pre-Sachin era, second post-Sachin era and third the Sachin era.
Since the last 24 years, you have kept the Indians hypnotised with so unique a force of magnetism that they can’t seem to believe the fact that after 18 November you will never be on the crease to play again.
Dear Sachin, cricket has been your life and I don’t mean that you should ever distance yourself from cricket. However, should Sachin be dedicated only to the game? You possess an extraordinary calibre of turning impossible into possible. You have all the options on the table as your acceptability is amazing. But the question is as to what option will Sachin choose for himself? If you wish, you can become a coach, a selector, a commentator or you can get any powerful administrative post in the BCCI. And given your market value, you can earn crores even after retirement. The logic behind doing so can be the fact that you are serving cricket. That you are paying the debt in return of the immense popularity that cricket has awarded you with.
Sachin, many Indians, including me, do not want to see you in the roles mentioned above. If it happens so, what will be the difference between you and those average cricketers who are just earning money by being part of the BCCI?
Sachin, you can change people’s thoughts. You can change the direction of the nation. You can bring into spotlight the issues left on the backburner.
Today, the country needs a hero. The country is in search for a role model, who can rise above all classes, castes and parties and become a voice of all sections of the nation. You can be that face of the nation. If you want, you can try to change the nation without being a part of any party.
Yes Sachin, you can also join politics.
Politics is not just the art of ruling; it is the art of changing the nation. And you have the ability to change the generic definition of ‘politics’.
Sachin, you may say that you do not know politics and that your membership in the Rajya Sabha is just nominal. This is true. But this is also your biggest qualification. Anyway, nowadays politics is being played on almost every issue. Be it wearing a cap or taking it out, bringing an Ordinance or tearing it apart, politics invades all. Today, we need such a national leader, who becomes a brand ambassador of non-aligned politics. We need a leader whose voice impacts the public in such a way that all the parties get compelled to agree on the issues raised by him.
In Ramayana, Hanuman was not aware of his power. When he was made aware of his power, he ended up bringing an entire mountain of Mandar. You, too, must recognise your power. The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, is also the chairman of Gujarat Cricket Association, and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visits stadium to watch every grand match. This means, both are crazy about cricket. If you wish, you can bring both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi on the same stage. If you want, you can visit parts of the country and create a new awareness about education, casteism and many other subjects.
Sachin, do you remember the World Cup semi-final in 1996? The entire Indian team had collapsed like a pack of cards chasing Sri Lanka’s 251 runs. When people started hurling stones, then you were the one who had been sent to the field like an ambassador of peace. You were the one who had placated an angry crowd. That moment, you saved the country’s prestige from being tarnished. Now, you have to make the nation proud in a different way. Sachin, now you have to play a new inning of nation building. This nation urgently needs Sachin – acceptable to all.
Sachin, the entire nation awaits your decision. Not even 125 people have got the chance to bring a paradigm change in this country teeming with a population of 125 crores in the last 125 years. Think and decide Sachin! This is the time for the big decision.
(Sudhir Chaudhary is Editor, Zee News)