Sachin from Manipur

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Valuemart Gold & Jewels and Diamond an India company will launch special edition Sachin Tendulkar silver coins, with his face, name and signature embossed on them on March 14. The numbers of coins will correspond to the number of runs that the batting maestro scored in Test matches during his twenty four year international career between 1989 and 2013. We believe this perhaps will not be the end in India’s crusade to deify the cricketer. The conferment of India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna to Sachin has its share of criticism. A RTI activist lodged a complaint to the Election Commission of India stating that the conferment was against the Election Code of Conduct. He argued that the award was an attempt to influence millions of Delhi voters who are fans of the cricketer, so that they vote for the Congress government in the Delhi Assembly election. This cricketer from Mumbai who used to come on a Maruti 800 to Colaba, Mumbai’s commercial hub, now owns a restaurant there.  He has earned more money from commercial endorsements than his cricketing fees. That is the enigma of Indian cricket. Ashis Nandy calls it an ‘Indian game’ discovered by the British.  In south Mumbai’s Oval Maidan, no any other game except cricket is allowed to play. So is the same in Azad Maidan, a fifteen minute walk from Oval. On Sundays there will be more than ten matches taking place simultaneously on the same ground. This craze is not confined in the urban areas alone. One would find cricket in all shades, in villages and hamlets, on a long distance train journey across the Indian states. Noted Historian, Ramachandra Guha, notes in one of his several commentaries on Indian cricket that India will never be an economic power to match the other Asian countries. India ranks below the impoverished African country, Namibia, in the World Development Report. It is the cricketers and they alone, who are asked to redeem these failures, to make one forget, at least temporarily, the harsh realities of endemic poverty, corruption and brutal politicians. A compassionate comment from someone who has studied cricket diligently, with academic precision, and of course the love for the game, which he admits proudly in many of his writings. The love for the game started to gain momentum in Manipur during the 80s, when the good old Doordarshan started televising international matches across the country. We remember lots of state level tournaments taking place then. It somehow got messed up with ‘plastic ball tournaments’ in the 90s. Most of the community playgrounds in Imphal were dotted with cricket matches on Sundays. The vigour of the game seemed to have retreated with the dwindling down of community playground in Imphal. But clubs like CHAMP, CYCLONE, REYOUNG STAR, MODEL CLUB, OSCAR, FORCE, THAU, CRAU and TRAU are playing robust games. And the clubs have also got outstanding players. Needless to say the state of Manipur is exceptionally good in adopting all kinds of games and sports. The game of cricket could also be one where our players could shine too. A state has to be a Ranji Trophy playing state to be in the radar of the BCCI. Manipur Cricket Association (MCA) is associated member of BCCI. There are few criteria to get full membership in BCCI. One must be able to host Ranji Trophy in their state. For that there has to be a stadium with proper infrastructure. The players must be lodged not below a three star hotel. There is an air of optimism as the stadium at the Luwangpokpa ground is nearing its completion. Who knows Manipur might produce dozens of Sachins in the future. We hope we are not beating jingoistic drum over cricket, a game with all its losses and gains.

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