The prevailing mass delirium since the onset of the Cricket Test-series against West Indies has mercifully ended. The country can now return to normalcy. While I don’t grudge Sachin Tendulkar his Bharat Ratna — yet another instance of the Indian government following the street rather than its own best instincts, the bar for this highest civilian honour has certainly been lowered to the ground level. Now just about anybody can aspire to it for doing almost anything! I mean, if a person adept at thwacking a leather ball with a piece of wood can get one a Bharat Ratna, why not for the champion guli-danda player, say, doing his far more difficult task of physical dexterity?
No, the political calculation behind this conferral is more important. The Congress party-led UPA Govt of Manmohan Singh’s conferring the Ratna on Tendulkar is yet another instance of its clutching at straw to retrieve its sinking political situation. It hopes, wishes, prays that giving the Ratna to Sachin will fetch it votes. After all, it made such a big thing of nominating this cricketer to the Rajya Sabha, didn’t they?
Successful sportsmen have been amply rewarded and in this age of glamorous advertizing Sachin’s banking some $260 million — putting him among the top ten sportsmen, earnings-wise, would appear to prove that the game is surfeit with financial rewards, so much so they wouldn’t hanker for political gongs as well. Because let’s at least be clear about one thing that Bharat Ratna is mainly and ultimately a political award given by the govt of the moment for whatever small or big returns. In an election year, the Congress party hopes that this appreciation will convert into votes.Sonia Gandhi and cohort running the Congress must consider Indian voters to be daft. Or, are they?