I’m usually one of those guys who fervently defends Sachin Tendulkar whenever criticism against him is raised. Armed with memorized statistics and arguments, I tend to shut down any word against a man who has meant so much to me and so many others in this country. However, I must admit that his post-career exploits have let me down, from his relative lack of involvement in key Indian cricket circles in comparison to his contemporaries, to his inexcusable Rajya Sabha record.
Tendulkar was made a Rajya Sabha MP before he even retired, a position he duly accepted. Since then, he has attended just 29 of nearly 400 Parliament sessions, asking only 22 questions and introducing no bills. His largest policy contribution was the sanctioning of Rs. 7.4 Crore toward 185 projects across the country toward educational and structural development. He additionally allotted Rs. 2 Crore for the redevelopment of rail foot bridges following the Elphinstone Road stampede last year.
Now his term has finished, and he has found easy media acclaim in his donation of his salary to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. While this and his other actual ventures in politics are individually laudable acts, they cannot draw away from the truth of his six years of apathy.
There are a limited number of seats in the Rajya Sabha. Policy in India is complicated and difficult enough to plan and implement, and the institution of public figures without relevant experience only serves to create inefficiency and deteriorate the image of the Rajya Sabha.
The fact is that Tendulkar’s acts as a Member of Parliament probably pale in comparison to his private donations, which he does not really advertise, but, assuming his wealth, must be significant. Anybody in India can point to a school which isn’t doing well or a bridge that needs repairing and assign money to it. Tendulkar displayed no distinction which supported his appointment other than his sporting status, and the last six years have not proven anyone wrong.
He is donating money that was meant for public funds in the first place. The purpose of sizeable pay for our politicians is so that they are able to focus on nothing but their jobs. Tendulkar may not have needed it, and it is impossible to truly criticize someone for an act of charity, but considering the public cost of his appointment, nobody should be considering this redemption.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar Twitter